Informal learning and early childhood faculty
Lewis, Bisa Batten
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This qualitative research project describes how novice Early Childhood Education (ECE) community college faculty, who may have little to no education or experience in early care or preschool education, informally learn about the early care and preschool facet of ECE. Through personal interviews and documents, the basic interpretive qualitative approach was employed using Kolb’s (1984) experiential learning model with Beckett and Hager’s (2002) theory on practice-based informal workplace learning as a framework to portray the nature of informal learning among ECE faculty in community colleges. The findings of this study highlighted three aspects of informal learning among ECE faculty. First, ECE faculty engage in both intentional and incidental informal workplace learning activities that enhance their early care and education knowledge. Second, ECE faculty intentionally learn content on child development theory and day care rules and regulations, but incidentally learn content on best practices in early care and learning. Third, the nature of informal learning among novice ECE faculty can be characterized as intentional and incidental practice-based informal workplace learning occurring through a four-stage experiential learning cycle that enables improved practice. The very nature of their daily work enables ECE faculty to go through a continual reflective cycle of developing new theories, strategies, and behaviors based on experiences (Kolb, 1984). An understanding of how novice ECE faculty get further acclimated to the early care and preschool aspects of the ECE field might inform ECE faculty in-general and assist them to employ informal processes to upgrade their own knowledge and proficiency.
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