Rapid growth in all domains of development occurs during the early childhood years. Even so, the pressures of high stakes testing and the push down of curriculum often elicit a focus on cognitive development while neglecting other developmental areas important in school and later life success such as executive functions. All developmental domains including social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development are embodied in executive functions with previous research illustrating gains in executive functions as efficacious in a child’s success outside and inside of school. The purpose of this study was to explore how children apply executive functions during situated learning experiences with a classroom pet that align with their temperaments. A hermeneutic phenomenology design was implemented for this qualitative study. Methods utilized for data collection included observations, initial and culminating interviews along with ongoing collaborations with the classroom teacher, pre and post temperament scales, pre and post executive function tasks, documentation, and a field notebook to better understand the phenomenon with classroom pets through the lived experience of the participants. Three levels of data analysis took place: starter codes, with-in case analysis, and cross-case analysis. Major findings included the connection between temperament and executive functions, the classroom pet as provocations for augmenting executive functions, and negotiated meaning. Several implications are provided for ensuring optimal outcomes for children in the classroom, including the benefits of understanding children’s temperament in providing a goodness of fit and integrating situated learning experiences with a classroom pet into the curriculum to enhance executive functions.
Mason N McLary
|Publisher||University of Oklahoma|
|Location of Publication||Norman, Oklahoma|
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