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The progress of a novice ethnographic researcher is traced from problems associated with a pilot study through the production of a final draft of her dissertation--an observational case study. Focus is on the data analysis process, the development of conceptual maps leading to an emergent grounded theory, and writing the dissertation. Research questions center around the existence of teacher expectations and the subsequent effect that expectations may have for 4-year-old children's future school success. The study was conducted in a private day care center in a mid-sized university community in the southeastern United States. Three prekindergarten classes (54 children and 3 teachers) participated in the preliminary study conducted in April through June of 1990, and 3 teachers (1 from the original study) and 48 children participated in the dissertation study in August 1990. Many changes in the researcher's data collection and analysis procedures resulted from the preliminary study as her naive perspective and idealistic expectations about student-teacher interactions gave way to a more realistic approach, and the research questions were refined and modified for the dissertation study, along with a revised interview and observation process. Writing the dissertation and drawing up a conceptual map of the emergent theory clarified the findings that teachers of 4-year-olds do have expectations for behavior and academic performance, and do treat children differently according to their expectations. Three figures present the conceptual map as it developed. (SLD)

Descriptors: Data Analysis, Data Collection, Day Care, Doctoral Dissertations, Ethnography, Pilot Projects, Preschool Education, Qualitative Research, Research Design, Research Methodology, Research Reports, Researchers, Teacher Attitudes, Teacher Expectations of Students, Technical Writing, Young Children

Autor: White, Kimberly


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