All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

James Ernest

Advisory Committee Members

Jenna Lachenaye

Grace Jempkemboi

Fran Perkins

Kelly Hill

Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Award

2019

Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Education

Abstract

This case study explored teachers’ experiences with the implementation of the Alabama P-3 initiative to move away from traditional teaching methods to active participatory learning (APL) approaches. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with nine teachers from four schools who taught kindergarten (K), first, or second grade. The data were analyzed through comparison of K and primary (P) teachers’ experiences of the implementation of the initiative using Lewin’s (1951) change theory as an a priori theory. The data were organized into two a priori themes: the process of change and forces influencing the change. The process of change theme was presented in three a priori categories: unfreeze, change, and refreeze. While in the change and refreeze phases both K and P teachers had relatively similar experiences, the data showed a distinct difference in the unfreeze phase. As an initial reaction to the initiative, all four K teachers were positive for implementing the P-3 program, whereas four out of five P teachers were skeptical about the initiative. The P teachers’ skepticism was associated with the notion that teachers will not be able to prepare children for the next grade level through play-based learning (PL) approaches. Despite the difference in the beginning, both K and P teachers noted the importance of taking small steps and changing their mindsets for implementing the initiative. The data also indicated that all the participants were satisfied with the shift because of the students’ improved social, emotional, and academic performances. The forces influencing the change theme were presented in two a priori categories: driving forces and restraining forces. Students’ enthusiasm towards their learning was the most powerful driving force for teachers to implement the P-3 program. Other driving forces were a positive school environment, parents’ support, and the grant. The data also showed forces that restrained teachers during the implementation of the initiative. Two restraining forces were revealed: assessments and teachers’ skepticism about the P-3 program. The challenge of assessments was the most cited restraining force. The study concludes with implications and future research suggestions. Keywords: P-3 program, implementation, play-based learning, Lewin’s change theory, shift, early childhood education

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