Teachers of young children in Taiwan: Teachers' concerns about curriculum and the implementation of the project approach
The Project Approach has been applied to early childhood education in Taiwan since 1993. The purposes of this study were to explore how teachers of young children conduct the Project Approach, what challenges they have encountered and what support they may need. In addition, this study investigates teachers' implementation of the Project Approach using an explanatory mixed method research. The survey research method was utilized to collect the major data, and face-to-face interviews were employed to obtain additional information. Two hundred and twenty-nine participants and six volunteer interviewees were recruited from 14 schools located in four regions of Taiwan, including urban and suburban areas. The results showed that teachers utilized three phases—beginning, developing, and concluding a project—in the implementation of the Project Approach to help children learn new concepts. Teachers used the processes of adopting, revisiting, and representing in order to enhance children's abilities via a path of exploration, observation, representation, and understanding. Children not only learned academic skills, but also obtained practical life skills and acquired meaningful knowledge through their participation in project work. Teachers enhanced their professional development by utilizing this approach. Parents and teachers developed a good relationship, which benefited the children's learning. Parents also became more involved in school activities and children's learning experiences in project work. Teachers were more concerned about Impact Concerns than Self Concerns and Task Concerns. They remained concerned about curriculum choices and how this approach affected children's learning experience as well as collaboration with other teachers. The challenges which teachers have encountered were related to children's development and abilities, children's prior knowledge about a topic, their teaching skills, and receiving parental involvement. Teachers' needed supports were professional trainings in the Project Approach, having more volunteer helpers, and having enough preparation time for project work. The research findings provided practical information for teachers and administrators in implementing the Project Approach. Additionally, the findings presented a guideline for teacher educators for the introduction of the Project Approach. For future studies, the researcher should investigate methods of different curriculum integrated with the Project Approach. Future studies should examine the challenges and support for new teachers, as well as discovering the solutions for each challenge and comparing the Project Approach between different regions or countries.