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Characterizing Key Features of the Early Childhood Professional Development Literature

Snyder, Patricia PhD; Hemmeter, Mary Louise PhD; Meeker, Kathleen Artman PhD; Kinder, Kiersten PhD; Pasia, Cathleen MEd; McLaughlin, Tara PhD

doi: 10.1097/IYC.0b013e31825a1ebf
Original Study

Professional development (PD) has been defined as facilitated teaching and learning experiences designed to enhance practitioners' knowledge, skills, and dispositions as well as their capacity to provide high-quality early learning experiences for young children. The purpose of this study was to use a framework from the National Professional Development Center on Inclusion (2008) to characterize key components of early childhood PD by conducting a descriptive systematic review of empirical literature. Two hundred fifty-six studies were identified that met specified inclusion criteria: (a) described a type of PD, (b) involved early childhood practitioners who were working with children birth through the age of 5 years, and (c) reported empirical evidence about PD outcomes for either early childhood practitioners or children. Findings revealed that studies typically included information about PD recipients, the topic or content focus of the PD, and the type of facilitated teaching and learning experiences provided. Seventy-four percent of the reviewed studies included systematic follow-up as a component of the facilitated teaching and learning experiences but limited information was provided about dose and fidelity of implementation of the follow-up. The review provides a descriptive characterization of the who, what, and how of early childhood PD. These data complement an emerging experimental intervention literature focused on second-generation PD research questions. We discuss the need to reach consensus about reporting key components of PD interventions to facilitate interpretations of relationships among PD interventions, improvements in practice, and desired child outcomes.

Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies and School of Special Education, School Psychology, and Early Childhood Studies, University of Florida (Drs Snyder and McLaughlin, and Ms Pasia); Department of Special Education, Peabody College, Vanderbilt University (Drs Hemmeter and Kinder); and Schoenbaum Family Center, Ohio State University (Dr Meeker).

Correspondence: Patricia Snyder, PhD, Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies and School of Special Education, School Psychology, and Early Childhood Studies, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611 (

Work reported in this manuscript was supported, in part, by grants from the Institute of Education Sciences to the University of Florida (R324A070008) and Vanderbilt University (R324A070212). No endorsement by the supporting agency should be inferred.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

©2012Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.