Teachers' Commitment to the Field and Teacher-Child Interactions in Center-Based Child Care for Toddlers and Three-Year-Olds

Amy C. Thomason, Elizabethtown College
Karen M. la Paro, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro


Defining teacher characteristics that are associated with effective teaching continues to be a challenging task for the field of early care and education. Much of the research examining classroom quality has focused solely on teacher characteristics such as education and experience; However, teachers' commitment to the field of early care and education defined as including job satisfaction, perception of the job as a long-term career, education level, years of experience, and membership in a professional organization may be an important characteristic to consider in teachers' interactions with children in the classroom, especially teachers of very young children. Using the NICHD Study of Early Child Care data at 15, 24, and 36 months, the present paper examines characteristics of early childhood teachers' commitment to the field and the assessed quality of teacher-child interactions in the classroom. Results indicate that overall, these characteristics significantly predict the quality of teachers' emotional and cognitive support provided to children as measured by the Observational Record of the Caregiving Environment (ORCE). Characteristics of commitment to the field were stronger predictors of the cognitive support than the emotional support teachers' provide in classrooms. The current work provides important information to consider in discussions of how characteristics of early childhood teachers influence their interactions with children in classrooms. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.