Educational Play: Theories, Perspectives, and Proposals

Educational Play: Theory, Programs, & Perspectives Abstract The following play program educational survey and observation details the educator and administrator perspectives on performance outcomes in four Virginia Beach schools. The use of play as an effective educational method is supported by the comprehensive literature review on the topic which discusses the major theories of Piaget, Erikson, and Vygotsky as the foundation for concluding how to best utilize play in the formal elementary education segment. The data provides a look into the primary factors driving play program success as well as hurdles to program effectiveness.
Further research is needed to substantiate the solidification of play programs as empirically-supported components of successful education initiatives. Insert Title Page1 Abstract2 Introduction: Literature Review4 Literature Review5 Method8 Participants8 Instruments8 Process9 Issues and Considerations11 Data Analysis12 Results14 Group A16 Group B18 Group C19 Group D21 Discussion: Use and Limitations22 References:25 Appendices:27 Table 1. Total Respondents Breakdown27 Table 2. Survey Race and Gender Demographic Breakdown27 Table 3. Top Suggested Improvements for Play Program Effectiveness27 Appendix 1.
The Play Curriculum Teacher Questionnaire28 Introduction: Literature Review In childhood education, the theory of play is of major importance to actualizing learning despite increasing administrator and educator focus on testing scores and performance outcomes. Theorists have posed a number of perspectives that address the importance and role of play in the primary education sector. Hymes (1981) contends that play is a solid foundation for teaching children as well as an insightful tool through which educators can accurately observe and assess student learning.

Erikson’s (1950) theory of psychosocial development posits that play in not only helpful, but essential to childhood development. The psychologist states that play creates a safe space in which children can work out their conflicts. The imagination, when allowed to run free, facilitates self-exploration and autonomy. An environment can be deliberately designed to initiate play without personalizing the child’s engagement and interaction, thereby supporting freedom. Piaget (1962) expands play theory from the individual education to social interaction learning and development.
Play and imitation become critical elements to learning and adapting to an external environment as the child learns about their world and self within this context. This hands-on involvement allows the child to experiment with symbols and self. According to Vygotsky (1978), play is also pertinent to developing the ability to defer immediate gratification as fantasy play assists the child in adapting to their circumstances and experiences through more mature means. For the purpose of this study, Piaget and Vygotsky’s theories of play will be used o evaluate the use of play in the primary education environment for self and social teaching; this will be achieved through a comprehensive review of current literature in conjunction with a play program survey to connect the theoretical foundation of play theory with the practical application of play in the classroom. Using four primary play programs in the Virginia Beach school district, the author examines play promotion and hindrance to outline avenues for improving the use of play in the elementary education environment. Literature Review
The United States school systems have moved away from the integration of play in primary education despite the extensive theories and research supporting the importance and use of play to childhood education and development. Even recess has been reduced as administrator and educator focus has been forcibly shifted to core education activities and test score outcomes (Stokes-Guinan, 2009; Smith & McKnight, 2009) with 40% of school districts having eliminated – or nearly eliminated – recess altogether (Zygmunt-Fillwalk & Bilello, 2005).
However, while less students are receiving play opportunities in their structured school curriculum, this does not negate the wealth of research evidencing the social, emotional, and physical benefits of research and play (Stokes-Guinan, 2009). The U. S. system’s prioritization of student achievement is short-sighted in its scores-focus, failing to comprehend the building blocks that allow for students to build and sustain the capacity for greater individual and social learning success, thus improving academic advantage.
Play assists children in navigating the real world through fantasy by empowering decision-making, initiative, rules, consequences, and uncertainty (Annetta, et al. , 2009). Research concludes that play is both imaginative and symbolic (Galvez-Martin, 1997). Bronson (1995) states that play is crucial to human existence and that this need extends into human learning as it is maintained and utilized throughout the individual’s lifep (Galvez-Martin, 1997). Additionally, play is both an educational experience and a learning process s children engage their internal and external environments. According to Isenberg and Jacob (1982), in play, children learn how to learn. “When children play, they learn” (Annetta, et al. , 2009, p. 1091). This translates into the idea that, while playing, children are learning new methods, techniques, and skills through incidental ways. Researches often quote Piaget, Erikson, and Vygotsky’s theories of play in which play facilitates intellectual, psychological, linguistic, and social growth through cognitive and symbolic exploration (Rivera, 2009).
Fein (1985) examples the powerful creative component of play; however, the author also upholds play’s vital contribution to the development of language, memory, and problem solving (Galvez-Martin, 1997). A majority of modern education is defined by a rule-oriented realism in which play is, at best, compartmentalized. In 1987, Bergen contended that empowering academic achievement and cognitive capacity required the introduction and encouragement of play, stating that mastery of such skills would result in more sophisticated problem-solving and ingenuity.
Play is a realm that fosters more in-depth understanding of environment, interpretation, and response; this definition speaks to the individual play perspective. However, there is also a social sphere wherein groups participate in this same development but through social role-playing and collaboration (Stokes-Guinan, 2009). As toys act as symbols, they can be insightfully used to teach fundamental principles and reinforce factual comprehension (O’Brien, 1993; Galvez-Martin, 1997). In any activity where mastery is the intended goal, play is the means for reaching this destination (Rivera, 2009).
A wealth of perspectives on defining play and its impact exist; however, researchers have reached consensus on the integral importance of play in early childhood development and education programs using the theoretical foundations of Piaget (1962) and Vygotsky (1978). Each of the quoted authors cites various researchers, programs, and theorists in the goal of substantiating play as a plausible method for educational outcomes. The largest points of contention concern the definition of play and the exact cognitive connections.
For example, Piaget’s (1962) assimilation theory does not necessarily equate to Vgotsky’s (1978) theory of cognitive development (Fox, n. d. ). While these divergences exist, there is little debate concerning the fundamental importance of play as the majority of researchers corroborate the vital need for play as a crucial framework for childhood education. Another point of divergence is the practical application of play in the classroom. The researchers offer a wealth of methods yet fail to construct a best practices model for play program development in elementary education.
Furthermore, measuring the outcomes of these programs is a difficult task as it is challenging to isolate variables and validate causation. There are an extensive number of factors engaged in the creation of play programs, including government, administrator, educator, parent, and student influence and involvement. The necessity in research is to move beyond these limitations and reliance on theory, reaching empirically-based evidence for the use of play programs in public and private education forums. This is a difficult task for the academic research community.
The theoretical framework for logically grasping the importance and role of play in learning is rooted in qualitative measures of study, exampled by surveys, observations, and other perception analyses. There are ways of comparing educational outcomes using strict tactics of methods separation to delineate the most effective techniques by their correlating outcomes; but again, it is important to highlight that the primary causation remains elusive as each child’s learning style, capacity, and conditioning are uniquely derived and affecting.
Therefore, research in this field is likely to continue it trajectory of working from a sound theory context by aligning educational tactics to fit this construct. Method Participants The Virginia Beach School District has a total of seven schools (public and private) who have some form of official play program currently in place. The focus of this study is in detailing the success of implemented programs that have been operating these programs for a minimum of two years. In meeting this criterion, two schools were eliminated as possibilities and another denied an offer of participation through omission of response.
Therefore, the survey sample population was reduced to four school groups, two private and two public, who qualified and accepted study inclusion. Prior to receiving the survey, each of the four school groups were contacted and the purpose of the study was discussed with the administration. After receiving agreement to allow their programs to be evaluated for this project, the participating staff received a preliminary email explaining the process and intent of the study which is to gain more in-depth understanding of factors that contribute to and factors that harm play program success.
Administrators and educators were encouraged to submit any questions or concerns in response to the email; however, no further clarification was needed. Initial confirmation was received from 29 faculty members; but this number decreased to 27 as the final count of total survey completion upon commencement of the survey process. The sample qualifies as random in that the researcher set the criteria of the study population and both the schools and the staff members then determined participation voluntarily. Instruments The study instruments are two-fold. The first and major source of data collection is the play program questionnaire.
The questionnaire includes a number of areas pertinent to further understanding the construct of the play programs, the participant or leaders backgrounds, the makeup of the professional and student body, and the perceived outcomes of the play program implementation. Additionally, respondents were asked to communicate in open-ended question format for a number of items to gain more specific feedback regarding their program achievements and pitfalls. The second arm of analysis is the on-site visitation and observation. Each of the four schools allowed the researcher to sit in on play program class times.
This observation relies on the researcher’s perception and evaluation. In preparation for the analysis, an observation format checklist and focal point document was created to guide the researcher. Particular attention was directed at classroom engagement, learning outcomes, student interactivity, faculty attitudes, play duration, and play activities. The observation period additionally acts as an open-ended question response as the researcher aimed to incorporate as much information as possible regarding the design, delivery, and success of these individual programs.
During this day period, the researcher optimized any opportunity for individual discussion with faculty members. Given the age of the students, it was determined unnecessary to include them in the evaluation at this time other than observing their perceived connection, response, and learning during the play period. Each program differed greatly; therefore, the researcher, after meeting the written document guide points of consideration, recorded observations freely in an attempt to eliminate preconceived analysis or areas of importance.
Process The survey invitations were sent out on the same day; seven days after this, each of the five possible candidate schools were contacted via telephone. During this call, the researcher spoke to the Principle or Program Director. Within three days, four of the five candidates confirmed their commitment to the project, understanding the survey and the observation period framework of the study. The fifth institution was contacted twice more; however, after failing to obtain confirmation, the school was eliminated from participation.
The questionnaire was then sent out to a total of 29 potential respondents who were identified by the school administrators as having direct involvement in the play program although in varying degrees. Participants received the survey via email at their school accounts. The questionnaires were then either mailed or emailed to the researcher. Within a ten-day period, 27 questionnaires were received and two administrators reported they were no longer involved significantly in the programs and could not honestly add to the survey.
Upon receipt of the results, using the devised coding system, the researcher recorded replies in the research database. The surveys protected anonymity; the only identifying factor was the institution. The purpose of this distinction was for comparison of institutions as well as the difference between private and public school programs. After each of the surveys was properly coded, the observation period was conducted. Unfortunately, given each school’s constraints in procedure, it was impossible to replicate the observation at each of the schools.
For example, School A included a four-hour total observation of the play program activities, five brief staff interviews, and a one hour interview session with the Play Program Director. School B’s observation was solely comprised of three hours of direct program observation. Each of the observation periods allowed for total checklist completion; however, the results were undeniably weaker in those periods where the researcher was not able to conduct interviews. After completion of the four observations, the researcher then applied a similar coding structure and documented these results in the study database.
Patterns and insights were recorded as well. Interview responses were compartmentalized, coded, and quoted according to the devised system and to the perceived importance of input or reply. Results were then compiled and analyzed as outlined in the data analysis. During this procedure, the researcher identified patterns of similarity and differentiation as well as exacted a number of factors that seemed to have little relevance given the diversity of the results. Issues and Considerations
The selection of the survey method is due mainly to ease of use, time constraints, and cost limitations; however, the questionnaire also aligns with study intention in its qualitative efforts of delineating factors of successful play programs. The survey structure also allows for a flexibility in data analysis as the results facilitate multivariate assessment. The standardization of the survey further provides an economy of analysis as the researcher determines the questions, and responses to be asked, recorded, coded, and analyzed.
The disadvantages of this method of data collection are primarily linked to the study’s limited capacity for analysis through more scientific and mathematic modes of date correlation. Another consideration is the weakened validity of these results given the reliance on close-ended questions. The greatest area of concern, however, is both the human element of the respondents and the researcher. Reporting accuracy is difficult to ascertain and may be largely dependent upon circumstances, attitudes, and beliefs that have no direct connection to the program or study direction.
The primary challenges included properly coding responses and determining study significance. In asserting correlations or points of interest, the researcher is met with questions of causation. The survey results yield useful information regarding play program design, delivery, assessment, and improvement; however, the reliance on qualitative data undermines the validity and generalization of the study. Instead, the study reveals a strong comparison within this small sample population but lacks quantitative empirical support through student performance assessments and comparison to prior to and following play program introduction.
Understanding the realistic perimeters of the study is necessary for comprehending the actual and applicable usage of the results. For the participating institutions, the study builds a solid foundation for present and future objectives by taking the temperature of the current program faculty and educator perceptions. This microcosm perspective may be applied to other school districts where researchers seek similar comparison. On the macrocosmic scale, the results are guideposts in play program implementation and suggest future avenues of study in this field. Anonymity did not prove to be an ethical necessity for this study.
Participants were willing and open to interdepartmental discussion; 85% of respondents included their names despite the lack of request. Data security was therefore unsubstantiated in this study sample. Despite the limitations of the questionnaire, the method of study aligns with research intent. Acknowledging analysis barriers offers a lens for grasping the integrity of the results as well as in understanding the importance of the human element in any organization initiative. With this clarity of mind, the study reveals useful data for the play program community as a whole.
Data Analysis Data analysis is the process of data evaluation in which data is logically and mathematically deconstructed. In this project, the data was collected from the selected sample populations which consisted of both public and private primary education sites. In total, 27 participants committed to the project. Data preparation in this process involved logging the survey results, checking for accuracy, entering the data into the computer system, and developing a document database structure for examining various data measures and outcomes.
Along with the survey, the researcher conducted four on-site observation periods, which included discussions with administrators and educators concerning student progress and implication. This data source serves to create a more comprehensive context for data and program comparison. The data collection is fundamentally qualitative. The main body of data collection is the questionnaire, which predominantly contains Likert scale reporting, short answer input, short response, and short answer questions. The first portion of the questionnaire collects demographic data relaying the respondents’ personal and professional history.
This data was recorded and analyzed as it correlates with the specific play programs in question and the sample segment as a whole. Teacher age, education, sex, language fluency, race, profession, experience, and subject are outlined in this section and are analyzed for correlations, dependences, and relationships. The compilation of this raw data was used in relation to the Likert scale results to identify underlying trends, similarities, or dissimilarities in the reporting. The classroom portion is additionally intended to assist the researcher in differentiating results and relationships.
The Diversity Item grouping allows the respondent to give more detailed observations of the student group and the diversity of the student make-up. This information may prove useful is comparing play program design and outcomes in accordance with student body profiles. Following this section, the questionnaire moves into the specific element breakdowns in the play curriculum. These ratings and measures provided the framework in which all other gathered data was integrated, compartmentalized, and correlated.
Finally, the last part of the questionnaire provides space for personal reflection and response in open-ended answer format. The researcher has to use judgment in the identification and evidencing of the significance of these similarities; coded interview process was utilized, but the researcher is paramount in this stage of evaluation given the heavy reliance on personal perception and data interpretation. This questionnaire is a hand-written response format. Therefore, checking for accuracy is necessary part of the data review process. Major concerns are: legibility, complete response, and answer quality.
Scale totals and categories will then be established to quantify survey results. In analyzing the data inputs, the researcher uses both descriptive and inferential statistics. Descriptive statistics are employed to directly describe what the data shows whereas inferential statistics aim to intelligently reach conclusions existing outside of this base reading of the data. Univariate analysis is central as single variables will be compared across the section using: distribution and central tendency; dispersion and standard variation will not be used for this study.
Simple distribution lists each variable value and the respondent number or percentage. Central tendency includes the three major types of estimates of: mean, median, and mode. Using inferential statistics, the researcher will simply compare different group segments performance outcomes and offer conclusions and recommendations based on these measurements. This discussion will incorporate the administrator and educator responses, in hopes of determining how play programs designs, outcomes, and perspectives can be maximized according to class, teacher, and institution profiles. Results
The survey results were successfully collected from 27 respondents in 4 school groups (Table 1). The private school groups are divided into Group A and Group B while the public schools are denoted as Group C and Group D. Group A consists of a total of 6 participants – four educators and two administrators. Group B consists of 9 participants – 6 educators and 3 administrators. In total, the Private School Group (PRSG) is comprised of 10 educators and 5 administrators. Group C consists of 8 participants – 5 educators and 3 administrators while Group D consists of 4 respondents, all of which are educators.
In total, the Public School Group (PUSG) is comprised of 12 participants – 9 educators and 3 administrators. Logically, the educator class had greater representation due to the fact that this group is simply larger and responsible for implementing the programs within the schools; however, little information is derived concerning the degree of authority and influence yielded by these different sects. It seems practical that the administration would have a larger affect on bureaucratic measures such as funding while the educator sect is of greater impact on actual student outcomes.
It is necessary for future research to examine the weight of these different groups to generate more accurate analysis of the results. Approximately 78% of all survey respondents were female; the 22% (6) male group all fell into the administrative categorization, 50% of which (3) were employed within the public school sector. However, this gender representation does not reflect the entire school faculty community but speaks only of the play program participants. As such, we conclude that play program implementation in this population is female driven.
The demographic profile of the groups did not reveal any significant correlations to the data in terms of race in relation to the play program outcomes; however, it is interesting to note that the PRSG was predominantly Caucasian. In Group A, 83% (5) identified as White and one member identified as Hipic. In Group B, 78% (7) were Caucasian and two respondents were African-American. The PRSG is therefore 80% White. In the PUSG, the racial profile was more diversified. In Group C, 3 (37%) were Caucasian, 3 (37%) were African-American, and 2 (25%) were Hipic.
In Group D, 2 (50%) were Caucasian, 1 (25%) was African-American and 1 (25%) was Asian-American. In total, PUSG is racially divided as: 5 (42%) were Caucasian, 4 (33%) were African-American, 2 (17%) were Hipic, and 1 (8%) were Asian-American. The total survey race demographic is summarized in Table 2. Analysis did not reveal any significance difference in program outcome report and demographics. Again, the most relevant information is the lack of male representation and the lack of racial differentiation within the play programs, especially within the private school sector.
However, further inquiry into each school’s total demographic makeup shows that there is no need for concern regarding play program disparity as the numbers are within range in reference to race. This point is not true when investigating gender. For example, in Groups A, B, and D, the total institutional presence of male educators and administrators was higher than the presence of male participation in the play program; for Group C, the gender split was relatively similar in total. All of the play program respondents taught between the 1st and 3rd grade range.
Group B reported the greatest number of years in both the school system and the particular school of study, ranking them as the first in regards to experience and play program delivery duration. Group A’s program has been active for 2 school years. Group B’s program is 5 years old. Group C has 3 years and Group D estimates 4 years, however, the respondents do not have a clearly articulated program and have instead been trying to apply the theories to their lesson plans. The results demonstrate that each school was significantly different than the others in play program approach.
The study is limited in that the particular differences are not clearly defined. Therefore, each school will be examined separately prior to making conclusive remarks about the play programs. Group A The play program has been active for two years. The program has a total of 4 educator participants with students ranging between 1st and 3rd grades. The 6 respondents indicated an average program satisfaction score of 6. The educators reported significantly lower ratings regarding the organization’s prioritization of the program and a low (4) average rating of the program’s improvement since inception.
The administrators, however, were more highly satisfied, reporting an average rating of 8 for overall program satisfaction and a score of 7 for program prioritization. The educators and administrators were largely in agreement with the clarity of the program’s expectations. The following factors were rated as poor to fair by the educators, suggesting the source causes of this disconnect in program perception: 1) Administrator Involvement, 2) Student Learning, 3) Student Feedback, 4) Student Outcomes, and 5) Curriculum Depth.
Therefore, the educator consensus was that the program was of fair benefit to the students but the effectiveness was rated as poor amongst the team. There was some differentiation of opinion amongst the two administrator respondents with one reporting that Program Achievements were excellent and the other rating these as satisfactory; however, the more useful data came from the educators who mirrored each others’ discontent. The three primary obstacle identified by the participants were: 1) funding, 2) time for planning, and 3) administration support.
The short answer component revealed that the educator team was dissatisfied by the time and resources allotted to the program, stating that they were unable to successfully integrate their ideas and knowledge due to the lack of administrator support and access to needed resources. The observation period demonstrated that the program was not strongly structured. Instead, the educators loosely integrated periods of play throughout their instruction. The largest observed block of consistent time was 15 minutes and the educator did not have a curriculum guiding the process.
Students were allowed to free play under the theme of letters. Some students (2nd grade) took turns acting out letters while others colored pictures and seemed to wander throughout the room. However, after this period was finished, the students did appear better able to focus on their studies. The interviews portion further outlined a division between the administration and the staff. It was evident that clear sides had been drawn although the administration was not aware of the degree of teacher dissatisfaction. Both of the administrators were male.
In speaking of the play program, the language used centered on the connecting the program to the school’s overall superiority to the public school system. The educators were more interested specifically in the outcomes of the play program and required assistance with design and delivery of the program. The loosely appointed director of the program had only 3 years experience, most of which was in play program theory; her reported comfort level was a 6. In interview, she stated, “I don’t really know how to connect play to our curriculum.
It is hard to balance my daily duties and research…. I really could use some more help. ” Group B Group B had the longest running program at 5 years. Survey participants’ responses to the likert scale ratings were consistently close, depicting cohesion in performance, vision, and perception. This group reported the highest years of experience as well as the highest levels of comfort, affect, prioritization, and satisfaction. The program specifically focused on 3rd grade students. In observation, the team was highly structured in their intention and structuring of play activities.
For example, one class spent an entire hour and a half period engaged in dramatic theater as part of their study of significant Americans. The teacher had devised a game where each of the students was given a role to play and allowed time to research their role/character as well as to dress in costume. The students were then invited to a party where they acted their parts as they interacted with each other. After this period, the class guessed what each student was acting. On every category, the program was rated in the Good to Excellent range by all participants.
The survey showed that 7 of the team members had been involved since the program’s launch and the other 2 had at least one year’s background of active play theory experience in their prior employment institutions. The survey concluded a unanimous report of “Excellent” across the organizational team on the categories of: 1) Integration with Core Curriculum, 2) Administrator, Teacher, and Student Involvement, 3) Student Engagement, 4) Benefit to Students, 5) Program Outcomes, 6) Usefulness, and 7) Effectiveness.
Additionally, the program was rated above an 8 by all participants on the topics of: 1) improvement since program launch, 2) personal involvement with the program, 3) confidence in implementation, and 4) overall experience with the program. The only significant point of dissatisfaction relates to Parent Involvement with 78% of respondents rating this item as poor to satisfactory. This factor was similarly reported as a means of improving the program’s effectiveness. The top three enhancement strategies were (in order of importance): 1) Increased Parent Involvement/Funding, 2) Access to Experts, and 3) Professional Development Courses.
The core components of the program were collaboration, innovation, and accountability. Furthermore, seven of the nine participants state that the most significant point for integrating a successful play program is “Collaboration between the administration and educator team. ” This finding is significant especially in comparison to Group A results and observation where this disconnect is having impact on the program’s performance and perceptions. Group C This group was the most diverse in opinion.
The average rating for overall experience with the program was a 6; however, the mean rating was a 7. Approximately 60% stated they had clear expectations of the program’s expectations and initiatives; but the remaining three participants had barely any knowledge whatsoever (1 to 3). Similarly, these respondents reported significantly low confidence scores and personal involvement. On the remaining items of the test, the rater spread was such that little data could be meaningfully connected to the scores; instead, there was a wide variety of experience and opinion expressed.
When analyzing the minority survey results, a few arguable consistencies were traced. The first was a general agreement that funding was the primary hurdle to the play program; additionally, these teachers tended to remark that the administration was disconnected from the student’s needs and more concerned with test scores and other performance outcome measures. The Caucasian teachers had a different perspective on the underlying problems facing program improvement; all 3 stated that a lack of parent involvement was a major disruption to program progress.
The most interesting aspect of this group’s outcome was the prevalence of general agreement on the total benefit to students that held both an average and mean rating of Excellent. The three participants who reported a lack of confidence did not fail to see the benefit provided to the students. During observation, it became clear that the program participants took relaxed approach and the students were moderately to highly engaged in the activities. The student’s appeared to be “having fun;” the issue of consideration is the degree to which learning is measurably promoted in this relaxed environment.
The average overall rating of 6 was connected to ratings of poor to fair in the categories of Program Design, Play Time Allotment, and Curriculum Depth. During interview, one administrator stated, “The play program allows the opportunity for the students to interact with one another and build learning relationships. ” The phrase “learning relationships” was echoed in both the observation and the survey. When asked to define this concept, one educator summarized, “The learning relationship creates a social bonding experience for the earner and the educator; the students and the staff become more comfortable sharing through learning. ” Another educator exampled this concept, stating that “her kids…openly discuss their challenges and interest” which leads to “group problem-solving” and “strong social support in the classroom. ” Group D Group D is characterized by the small size of the play program team. The four members, all educators, estimated four years total program implementation and generally remarked that the had been working together to integrate the theories and suggestions into their lesson plans.
The lack of administrator involvement, according to the team, did not hinder their performance outcomes. Instead, the participants were strongly aligned in their survey responses. This cohesion advantaged the team. The members worked collaboratively to select and design play activities. These were then modified to fit instructor needs. The teacher’s kept journals tracking their personal observations of the effectiveness of specific activities, even using student feedback (voting) to rate the most enjoyed activities. The teachers also employed learning outcome quizzes to determine the degree of learning retention.
Over the four-year period, the teachers concluded that their learning outcomes had improved by 70%, suggesting that these improvements were due to increased experience and understanding in how to effectively use play as a consistent component of a learning environment. The three key point for play program success were noted as: 1) Group Cohesion, 2) Preparation, and 3) Educator Autonomy. The teachers also supplied previous grades and reports as evidence that student performance and involvement had improved since the program’s launch.
The observation period revealed that the consistency of the group was integral to determining how to best evolve the program. The teachers also reported experimenting with teacher switch and student led activities as means for spurring interest. The team also used activity split tactics to determine the best approach. In doing so, the group would decide on an activity and possible delivery methods and engagement techniques, selecting the believed best means of teaching from this pool. Two of the educators would represent the first approach and the remaining two would follow the second; there experience and data would then be shared.
This team was highly organized. The administration had little input regarding the program design or operation; instead, the school’s principal commented during interview that the teachers were of the highest caliber and that both parents and students where in complete agreement. The teacher’s largest statement of need was funding. They all stated that they could enhance the program and outcomes with revenue backing and expressed a desire to bring it to a school-wide and even district-wide level after they had conclusive evidence of an effective standard program that could work with their curriculum.
Discussion: Use and Limitations The survey and observation results help guide play program participants in establishing and monitoring their programs. Each of the four groups studied showed promising educational outcomes; the majority of the discrepancy in reporting is due to individual perceptions regarding how to best oversee the program’s facilitation. The survey results did not yield any conclusive data regarding play program or theory as a whole. Instead, the study in totality exposed some of the trials of program implementations and sustainability.
The most significant factors in program success are cohesion, preparation, administrative support, and planned activities. This level of integration is supported in survey consensus and observation reporting. Additionally, each of the studied institutions found their program specific results to be helpful and plan on utilizing the data to drive program changes and generate support. The study is limited in its scope and validity. Likert scaling is built on a bipolar scaling method, based on a range of positive and negative responses.
In using this method, the respondents must characterize the variable in question as the questionnaire does not allow for neutral responses. Additionally, the use of a ratings model creates a more broad range of clarification. However, the inherent problems of both methods are in their reliance on the respondents’ perceptions that may be affected by bias, mood, and other external factors that are inappropriate indicators of the play programs’ actual performance. Unfortunately, this ordinal data ystem combines intensity scaled questions, ranking systems, and open-ended questions. Survey reliability is difficult to measure given the sample size and the individual involvement in the development and implementation of the play program. Survey validity is arguably strong given the internal validity achieved in measuring both the educator and administrator participants in each programs’ team. However, external validity is limited. Instead, the results can be used to illuminate play program design challenges and potentialities.
The results should also be evaluated from the perspective of construct validity, criterion validity, and predictive validity if the desire is to expand the survey beyond this initial pilot play program measurement approach. This is impractical at this stage of research. Achieving a higher response rate can strengthen reliability. The advantages of the survey include versatility and simplicity. Standard survey challenges of disbursement and collection are overridden by the scale and size of the sample population as well as by the predetermined commitment.
As previously stated, the size and specificity of the sample population renders the results not generalizable to the greater population; however, this does not negate the importance of the survey as a contribution to the field of education. The data analysis reveals the following within the sample population: core components of successful play programs, potential diversity impacts on play programs and outcomes, avenues for program improvement, and overall play program satisfaction. Causation remains a hurdle; however, the study does reveal useful data to help guide schools in play program implementation.
None of programs surveyed integrated technology into their programs. This may be a necessary direction to pursue considering the changing climate of the educational landscape. There is a strong need for more comprehensive research on this topic to better support future generations of educators in addressing student body learning needs. References: Annetta, L. , Mangrum, J. , Holmes, S. , Collazo, K. , & Cheng, M. (2009). Bridging Realty to Virtual Reality: Investigating gender effect and student engagement on learning through video game play in an elementary school classroom.
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H. (1950). Childhood and psychology. New York, NY: Norton. Piaget, J. (1962). Play, dreams, and imitation in childhood. New York, NY: Norton. Rivera, M. (2009). The Powerful Effect of Play in a Child’s Education. Education Digest: Essential Readings Condensed for Quick Review, 75(2), 50-52. Retrieved from EBSCOhost. Smith, K. , & McKnight, K. S. (2009). Remembering to Laugh and Explore: Improvisational Activities for Literacy Teaching in Urban Classrooms. International Journal of Education & the Arts, 10(12), Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
Stokes-Guinan, K. (2009, October). Child’s play: Why increasing opportunities to play and be active may improve students’ academic and physical outcomes. In Gardner Center. Retrieved from gardnercenter. stanford. edu/docs/Lit-Review_PlayWorks_091027. pdf Vygotsky, L. (1978). Mind and society: The development of higher educational processes (14thth ed. ). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Zygmunt-Fillwalk, E. , & Bilello, T. E. (2005). Parents’ victory in reclaiming recess for their children. Childhood Education (Fall), 19-23.
Appendices: Table 1. Total Respondents Breakdown |GROUP |Educator # |Administrator # |Total | |A |4 (67%) |2 (33%) |6 | |B |6 (67%) |3 (33%) |9 | |Private |10 (67%) |5 (33%) |15 | C |5 (63%) |3 (37%) |8 | |D |4 (100%) |0 |4 | |Public |9 (75%) |3 (25%) |12 | |TOTAL |19 (70%) |8 (30%) |27 | Table 2.
Survey Race and Gender Demographic Breakdown |Group |White |Black |Hipic |Asian |Male |Female | |PUSG |5 |4 |2 |1 |3 |9 | |Total |17 (63%) |6 (22%) |3 (11%) |1 (4%) |6 (22%) |21 (78%) | Table 3. Top Suggested Improvements for Play Program Effectiveness Top 5 Suggested Improvements for Play Program Effectiveness | |Reported Item: |Reported PRSG Percentage: |Reported PSUG Percentage: | |“Cohesion/Collaboration” |87% |58% | |“Administrative Support” |73% |58% | |“Preparation” |53% |75% | |“Activities Planning” |47% |66% | |“Parent Involvement” |47% |50% | Appendix 1. The Play Curriculum Teacher Questionnaire About the Questionnaire The purpose of this questionnaire is to examine the theoretical and practical importance of play in the education environment and curriculum. You have been selected to participate due to your employment in an educational organizational that currently promotes and integrates play integration. Your feedback and observations are essential to determining the present efficacy of play in a primary educational atmosphere. Thank you in advance for your honest contribution.
We ask that you answer each question to the best of your ability. Any additional comments, perceptions, or information can be sent back along with the completed questionnaire; however, please refrain form attaching these resources to the actual questionnaire. We assure you that all data and input will be reviewed. Anonymity For the purpose of these results, all administrator and educator names will be protected to safeguard students, school programs, and respondents. School and Professional Background: 1. Name of School: 2. Position at School: 3. Age:years old 4. Educational Background: Last level of Education Completed: Degree Received: 5. Sex: Male or Female (circle one) 6.
Languages Spoken (list primary first): 7. Race/Ethnicity: 8. How long have you been working at this particular school? ______ days/months/years Within the education system? _______days/months/years 9. If you are an educator, what subjects do you teach? 10. What grade levels do you teach? 11. If you are an administrator, what are your primary functions within the school? Classroom Profile 1. Number of students total: 2. Gender ratio (Male:Female): ____:____ 3. Age range of students: _____years old to _____years old 4. Number of special education students: Classroom Diversity Assessment: DIVERSITY ITEM Very Somewhat Neutral Little None Racial |( |( |( |( |( | |Gender |( |( |( |( |( | |Learning Abilities |( |( |( |( |( | |Learning Styles |( |( |( |( |( | |Socioeconomic Backgrounds |( |( |( |( |( |
Play Curriculum Assessment 1. How long has your institution been formally integrating play into the curriculum? ______days/months/years 2. How much experience do you personally have with implementing and evaluating play program outcomes? ______days/months/years 3. Please rate your Play Theory knowledge on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 minimal, 10 great): 4. Please rate your Play comfort (1 to 10): 5. Rate your satisfaction with your organization’s play program as is (1 to 10): 6. Rate your satisfaction with your organization’s play program progress since inception (1 to 10): 7. How much time per day is devoted to the play program? 8. Time per week? 9.
What are the number of staff involved in the Play Program: 10. Rate the organization’s prioritization of the program (1 to 10): 11. Rate your performance in relation to the program (1 to 10): 12. Rate your improvement since the program launched (1 to 10): 13. Rate your ability to comprehend program expectations and initiatives (1 to 10): 14. Rate your personal involvement with the program (1 to 10): 15. Rate your confidence in implementing the program within your class (1 to 10): 16. Rate your overall experience with the program (1 being poor and 10 being excellent): Please rate the following items within the context of your organization’s play program. Insert Heading if Required |Poor |Fair |Satisfactory |Good |Excellent | |1. Program Design |( |( |( |( |( | |2. Play Time Allotment |( |( |( |( |( | |3. Integration w/ Core Curriculum |( |( |( |( |( | |4. Aministrator Involvement |( |( |( |( |( | |5.
Administrator Feedback |( |( |( |( |( | |Teacher Involvement |( |( |( |( |( | |Teacher Feedback |( |( |( |( |( | |Program Monitoring |( |( |( |( |( | |Student Learning |( |( |( |( |( | Student Improvement |( |( |( |( |( | |Student Engagement |( |( |( |( |( | |Student Feedback |( |( |( |( |( | |Student Outcomes |( |( |( |( |( | |Parent Involvement |( |( |( |( |( | |Parent Feedback ( |( |( |( |( | |Curriculum Engagement |( |( |( |( |( | |Curriculum Depth |( |( |( |( |( | |Participants Cohesion |( |( |( |( |( | | | | | | | | OVERALL PROGRAM ASSESSMENT: |1. Benefit to Students |( |( |( |( |( | |2. Program Implementation |( |( |( |( |( | |3.
Play Time |( |( |( |( |( | |4. Program Achievements |( |( |( |( |( | |5. Program Outcomes |( |( |( |( |( | |Usefulness |( |( |( |( |( | |Effectiveness |( |( |( |( |( |
Please briefly delineate the core components of your program: Please briefly identify major obstacles (i. e. administrative support, funding, etc. ): Please briefly comment on your observations regarding student participation and benefit: Please briefly explain your conclusions regarding the effectiveness of your organization’s play program: Offer 5 suggested improvements or changes that would make the play program more effective: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. List three key points for successfully integrating a play program: 1. 2. 3. Please use the below space to include any additional comments you feel necessary to provide a comprehensive and accurate understanding of play programs integration and implementation:

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