Professional development through communities of adult learners: A longitudinal study on team behaviors among early childhood educators
Because meeting the diverse needs of today's young children and their families can be best accomplished through a team approach to service delivery, early childhood educators have a specific need for professional development in teamwork. In an effort to understand how a collaborative, adult learner-focused model of professional development could be used to effectively provide team training, the Building Effective and Successful Teams (BEST) model of team training was developed, which allowed early childhood educators to form communities of learners in order to collaboratively train together over time, within the context of their classrooms, and at a pace consistent with their teaching schedules. Two delivery formats of the team training were developed. Team behaviors were measured using the 30-item, Likert-scaled Team Profile Survey. The research design was a pre-test/post-test with a follow-up (post-post-test). The study focused on the influence of the BEST model of team training in the development of team behaviors over time (i.e., pre to post, post to post-post, and pre to post-post), and whether or not the two delivery formats made a difference in the development of team behaviors over time. Nonparametric Wilcoxon matched-pairs and Mann-Whitney U tests were conducted. Results indicated that there was (a) a significant positive training influence on the development of team behaviors from pre to post, (b) no significant improvement or decline in team behaviors from post to post-post, (c) a significant positive training influence on the development of team behaviors from pre to post-post, and (d) no significant differences between the delivery formats and the development of team behaviors over time. The findings suggested that the use of communities of learners to provide team training to early childhood educators resulted in a significant transfer of training and lasting changes in team behaviors over time. Additional studies on collaborative methods for addressing the professional development needs of early childhood educators are needed, as well as, more longitudinal studies on educational teams to further understand the ongoing process of collaborative learning.
0516: Adult education
0516: Continuing education
0518: Preschool education