An exploration of training and change in practice in infant/toddler programs

Date of Completion

January 2001


Education, Early Childhood|Education, Teacher Training|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies




For over two decades shortages of adequately prepared personnel have threatened our ability to appropriately serve young children with disabilities and their families. This situation has been exacerbated by the growing practice of providing early intervention services in the “natural environment” and the resulting need to also train early childhood staff. Indeed, the need for pre-service and inservice training for early intervention and early childhood personnel is urgent. The goal of inservice training is to provide experiences and information that result in improved practitioner behavior in individual work settings and throughout the service delivery system. There is a plethora of information about inservice training strategies that foster desired changes in practitioner behavior, yet the process of facilitating permanent and fundamental change is not well understood. ^ This study explored the perceptions of a group of training participants about (a) the concepts, ideas, best practices, and techniques presented during training that they have adopted into their behavior and (b) what training experiences or events facilitated these changes. Focus group interviews were held with a purposive sample of seven training teams whose members participated in the Hilton/Early Head Start (EHS) Training Program. Data were collected before, during, and after the focus groups and included multiple sources. Contextual verification was derived from data collected by the Hilton/EHS Training Program. ^ Systematic, verifiable, and ongoing data analysis was imbedded into the study's design. An external auditor defined and verified the codes and themes. ^ Fifty-two percent of the learning outcomes of the training were found to be in practice in the programs. In particular, there was notable change in the parent attendees. Several factors that supported change subsequent to training were identified: (a) specific structural components in the training design, (b) distinct organizational and personal characteristics. An analysis of the effectiveness of various training strategies in supporting change found no differences among them. Recommendations for future research and considerations in providing training were generated. ^