Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)


Early Childhood Education

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Jane T. Broderick

Committee Members

Carol M. Trivette, Pamela A. Evanshen


The Reggio Emilia Approach (REA) and Head Start (HS) value high-quality early education, support for families, and community partnerships according to the literature. Exploring principles of REA in relation to the HS program model may reveal alignment that will inform high-quality developmentally appropriate practices that are meaningful and enhance learning outcomes. This multiple case study explores the REA in alignment within three Head Start programs in New Mexico, Massachusetts, and Tennessee. Participant groups include one education director, one education leader, and four teachers in each of the three locations. In New Mexico, the HS program was located on a Native American pueblo. In Massachusetts the HS program was located in a diverse urban community, and the HS program in Tennessee was located in rural east Tennessee. Data to demonstrate participant’s alignment with nine REA principles include a survey, an interview, and observations without children present at each location. All participants responded with some alignment to the REA principles, yet lack of clear understanding was found among a majority of participants. Classroom observations revealed stronger alignment with REA principles in New Mexico. An interesting finding was that across cases there was one teacher who had more experience with including Reggio-inspired principles in her teaching practices. Teachers were interested in professional development beyond HS mandates. A small ungeneralizable sample is a limitation, which suggests future research using the survey and development of the 3 observation tool with a larger sample. Implications suggest future professional development introducing the REA may inform teaching practices in Head Start programs.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.