Tara Mathien

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Flynn, Joseph E. (Associate professor)

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations


Early childhood educators--Training of; Early childhood education--Vocational guidance; Early childhood education


This study examined the experiences of early childhood educators that had chosen to make teaching a career. Little research exists that examines resiliency and persistence factors in association with career commitment ideals of early childhood educators. Work experiences in early childhood programs have been researched extensively yet without the focus on those that have stayed in the field for at least five years or more. Questions addressed by this study involve how educators describe and perceive their role and overall careers. Additionally, background experiences, life experiences, personality factors, and resiliency were deeply explored. The study involved a three-part interview series to explore experiences and perceptions of early childhood careers. This case study was conducted on four early childhood educators that have been in the field and identify as committed to their careers. The setting was a campus child care center. Each participant was interviewed a total of three times and observed in their classrooms three times. Analysis was done on all interviews and observations to find themes between participants. Five emergent themes were identified as a result of this study. The findings revealed important factors that relate to career commitment in early childhood educators. Findings further indicate a need for programmatic and policy infrastructures to support new teachers, mentors, and peer learning opportunities. The study also outlined several recommendations that address the greater implication for the field. Recommendations include issues around competency, qualifications, education, well-being, and quality of early childhood educators.


Advisors: Joseph Flynn.||Committee members: Maylan Dunn-Kenney; Laura R. Johnson.


172 pages




Northern Illinois University

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