Ed.D. Dissertations

Date of Award

4-2019

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

College

College of Education

Department

Education

Degree Name

Doctorate of Education, Ed.D.

Faculty Chair

Barbara Weschke, Ph.D.

Content Specialist

Peggy Dupey, Ph.D.

Content Reader

Dennette Foy, Ed.D.

Keywords

Head Start, Early Learning Outcomes Framework, natural outdoor learning

Abstract

This action-research study was designed to discover how to encourage teachers to use outdoor learning environments to prepare prekindergarten children for kindergarten by helping them gain skills described in a framework of learning outcomes designed for Head Start. The framework described five areas of skills needed for success, which included communication skills, book knowledge, writing, physical coordination, general knowledge, mathematics, the ability to attend and engage in new learning, interacting with peers and adults, and controlling and understanding emotions. The study of a Head Start Program included teachers to help determine if outdoor learning environments could help teachers embrace an inquiry-based learning format for their students and reduce behaviors by the children that impede learning. Participating teachers addressed the specific barriers to outdoor play the program had identified by developing strategies to address those barriers, implementing the strategies, and evaluating the experiences after the implementation phase. Data were gathered through close observation, teacher interviews, and daily journals to detect if the teachers intentionally planned to use outdoor learning environments, how they implemented those plans, and how they interacted with the children during outdoor playtime once the barriers to outdoor play were removed or diminished in accordance with the strategies developed. This study was designed to actively search for solutions to encourage teachers to employ the benefits of outdoor play, especially as it pertains to preparing children for kindergarten using a framework designed for Head Start.

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