Title

Teaching and Learning Through Play: A Case Study of Taiwanese Kindergarten Teachers' Perceptions and Implementation of Play in a School Setting

Date of Degree

12-2008

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Program

Education

Advisor

Mary Ruth Moore

Advisor

Dorothy Ettling

Advisor

Susan Hall

Advisor

Sharon Herbers

Abstract

This case study focused on the identification of some teachers' diverse perceptions and use of play in a school setting.

Play is a spontaneous and natural ability that children have, regardless of their cultural differences. It is a complex term, which is understood differently in different cultural contexts. In Taiwan, play is listed as one of six content areas in the 1987 National Kindergarten Curriculum Standards document because it is considered as a separate subject rather than as a means for achieving academic goals. At the same time, the Standards document emphasizes that children learn through play and encourages teachers to use play as a tool for children's learning. This situation which seems contradictory, aroused this researcher's curiosity and motivated her to find out about the perceptions of some Taiwanese kindergarten teachers regarding play in the curriculum. This case study focused on the identification of some teachers' diverse perceptions and use of play in a school setting. Seven experienced teachers and four student-teachers from a exemplary public school participated in the study. Multiple data collecting methods that included informal conversations, semi-structured interviews, observations, and document reviews were utilized. The data organization and analyses, using a constant comparative method, indicated that while agreeing upon the value of play in childhood development and learning, this group of teachers, working in the same school system, demonstrated diverse perceptions of the meaning and function of play in learning. Using the thematic/project teaching approach was found to have given the teachers more flexibility in integrating play into the school's curriculum. It can be concluded that a successful model emerged from the teachers' sharing of ideas during the study. Their intrinsic characteristics and the extrinsic organizational context coalesced to form a Learning Organization that has affected their educational goal of successfully integrating play into their daily teaching. The teachers' strong convictions about the value of play in education and its utilization in their daily teaching activities through meaningful integration have turned their experiences into a successful model of teaching and learning through playing.

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