Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Education, Ed.D.



First Advisor

Julie Kalnin

Second Advisor

Ellyn Arwood

Third Advisor

Katie Danielson

LC Subjects

Preschool teachers--Attitudes; Preschool teachers--In-service training; Literacy--Case studies; Literacy--Study and teaching (Preschool)


Teacher beliefs have been shown to be an influential factor in student outcomes in all areas of learning. In light of the persistent achievement gap between White students and students of color, it seems important to study and understand the role of teacher beliefs in public education. This exploratory case study contributes to a deeper understanding of how preschool teachers’ beliefs about early literacy are expressed or may evolve within a context of implementing the Neuro-semantic Language Learning Theory, a learning framework integrating neuroscience, Western cognitive psychology, and language acquisition into educational applications. The study design included a sample of three preschool educators and multiple data collection events using a robust variety of elicitation methods, including concept map construction, video-stimulated recall, and semi-structured interviews. The data were analyzed following Saldaña’s first, second, and third cycle coding methods and employed both deductive and inductive approaches. Findings included broader definitions of early literacy by study participants than are noted in the literature and the belief that meaningful learning requires context within social interactions in addition to skill-based interventions. The most significant finding highlighted the complex and contextualized nature of teacher beliefs, which may be changed through the insertion of cognitive disequilibrium supported by a complex and contextualized system of theoretical translation, professional learning opportunities, ongoing coaching, and believable vicarious experiences. Specific recommendations for professional learning experiences and future research are offered.


Copyright retained by the author.