Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Education, Ed.D.



First Advisor

Julie Kalnin

LC Subjects

Literacy--Study and teaching (Early childhood); Early childhood teachers--Training of; Early childhood educators; Career development


There is a significant body of research that identifies a gap in early literacy content knowledge between the teaching profession and that held by the research community. Shulman’s (1986) PCK framework identifies pedagogical knowledge and content knowledge as the two main headings for teacher professional knowledge. The purpose of this study is to investigate the development of early literacy specialized content knowledge using relative teacher strengths in their pedagogical knowledge with in a conceptual professional development framework called Interval Learning. The study involved four Grade 1 teachers in the pilot phase and eight Kindergarten teachers in the main research participating in a mixed-methods design. Data Collection included teacher subject matter knowledge measured using Moats and Foorman’s (2003) Survey of Language Constructs Related to Literacy Acquisition, through semi- structured small group and individual interviews, and teacher created concept maps on early literacy. Student data was gathered using the WRAT IV Word Reading abilities subtest for G1 students and the TOPA II for the GK students. Data sets were analyzed independently. Quantitative analyses involved descriptive statistics, and T-tests due to small sample sizes. Qualitative data was analyzed inductively (using pattern coding) and deductively using key terms from the literature. Following individual analysis, quantitative and qualitative data analyses were converged to triangulate findings across data type. Findings in the study identified that teacher early literacy specialized content knowledge can be influenced through the application of the interval learning process. The study also informs the importance of teacher belief understood through reflection and student performance in teacher growth. Implications include expanding understandings the interplay of teacher knowledge, pedagogy, and beliefs within professional development models.


Copyright for this work is retained by the author.