The purpose of this participant selection model mixed methods study was to investigate early childhood education preservice teachers’ perceptions on children’s play. The study was conducted at one of the Midwestern universities’ early childhood undergraduate education program in the United States. Within the program, 241 students at different stages within the program (Cohort I, Cohort II, Cohort III, Cohort IV, and Cohort V) participated in the quantitative phase of the study. The survey results demonstrated that concept of play does not have a shared definition. Play is viewed as social and physical activity but less cognitive. It was also found that participants at earlier stages within the program are more inclusive toward play and the participants at the later stages perceive play in more rigid and strict ways. The seniors tend to be focused on a specific outcome rather than viewing play as process-oriented activity within the early childhood classroom.

Keywords: Pre-school education, mixed methods, pre-service teachers


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