Early Childhood Education
Advanced Program

The Masters of Arts in Education, Early Childhood Education Option at California State University, Fresno is a long established NAEYC-recognized program for the advanced preparation of early childhood educators and care providers.  In addition to offering a Masters degree in Education, the ECE option offers to its credentialed candidates, a preparation program leading to a California ECE Specialist Credential that may be earned with or without the Masters Degree (No student to date has earned the ECE Specialist Credential without a Masters Degree, but the option is available for those who already hold a Masters of Education degree or do not wish to pursue the advanced degree.)   Also sponsored by the ECE graduate program is a Transitional Kindergarten Certificate program that provides graduate-level courses to credentialed teachers teaching or hoping to teach in transitional kindergarten settings in California’s public schools.  Added to Assessment #1 in fall 2012 was a Comprehensive Exam option to the Thesis and Project as required by all Masters degrees awarded by the Kremen School of Education and Human Development.  

LEE241 —  Fieldwork in ECE — provides candidates in the Advanced Program with formal field and clinical experiences related to their course of study. Other field experiences are embedded in required Program coursework and provide additional opportunities for the Advanced Program candidate to apply theory to practice. Below is a description of LEE241 — Fieldwork in ECE (3 units).

Field Experiences and Field Study Requirements for LEE 241

This course involves ongoing field experiences in an ECE setting such as ECE programs, classrooms, children’s centers, etc. During their ECE field experience, students make a field study as part of their requirements.

The total number of required hours for field experiences in LEE 241 is 45 hours. ECE field experiences typically average three hours per week or more. Field experiences may involve teaching, visits to ECE programs, classroom observations, etc. At least 1 hour per week must be devoted to the field study.

1. Field Site Descriptions: Students provide in writing the names and program types (ECE center, classroom, agency, etc.) of the places where they complete their field hours. They must include the reasons for selecting each of the field sites. They must provide information on the children-ages, background, etc./teachers/ administrators involved. They must describe their activities each week and complete the Field Study Activities Form, obtaining proper signatures to verify completion of field hours.

2. Organization: Students must create a system such as a notebook, file folders or an album for the field assignment to document their field experience and collect evidence of these experiences.

3. Examples of ECE Practice (2 Examples): Students provide concrete evidence of their specific field activities to document their progress. For ECE Program Leaders, this may include teaching, observations, work with families, etc. For ECE Teacher Leaders, evidence must be provided of ECE teaching with children to demonstrate quality ECE practices.

Each Example of ECE Practice should include at least one video (no more than 10 minutes) (two examples = 2 videos) and other evidence such as photos, experiences samples or products. If children or other adults are shown, written consent must be obtained. The purpose of the videos and other evidence is to allow the LEE 241 supervisor and others in the fieldwork course to provide feedback helpful in improving the quality of the student’s ECE practice and leadership skills.

4. The Field Study: The student determines a problem or interest area to study in more depth at one or more of the field sites. The field study may be included in the field hours, but typically involves additional time.

5. Questions: Students explain how this study addresses their specific ECE interest or focus. They develop a series of questions to inform the study and reflect the purpose and context of the field study.

6. Participant(s) or Data Sources: Students determine who is going to participate in the study or other data sources. They obtain written informed consent if needed.

7. Theoretical Frame: Students choose a theoretical frame, ECE philosophy, etc. to guide their field study. They read at least two related books or articles relevant to the field study.

8. Documentation Plan: Students record information, collect data and document findings. In addition to observational notes or a journal, students may develop interview forms, use photographs or video tape, collect experiences samples, etc.

9. Modify and Finalize Study Plan: Students conduct an observation to try out the methods selected and finalize the field study plan. The LEE 241 instructor approves the proposed field study.

10. Implementation: Students conduct the field study and document their findings.

11. Reflection: After completing field study, students write a reflection concerning the findings, what was learned and how this field study assisted in enhancing student’s professional experiences and leadership in ECE.

12. Field Study Presentation: The field study is shared at the LEE 241 seminar. The presentation is usually brief, 10-20 minutes. A powerpoint, video, etc. is typically used to help explain the study and findings. Students also provide a one-page summary with two or more references.

13. Leadership Activity: To demonstrate ECE Graduate Student’s leadership in our ECE field, students must present their field study to another interested audience, such as staff at the school or other field site where the study was conducted, parents or an ECE organization.

Program of Study


2012-13    40    19
2011-12    46      5
2010-11    40      4

Faculty Vitae:
Shareen Abramson
Jacques Benninga
Susan Macy
Marilyn Shelton
Cathy Yun

#1Table 1

(For each Standard, indicate the following assessments)
Standard 1— Assessments 2, 3, 6
Standard 2 —Assessments 2, 5, 6
Standard 3— Assessments 2, 3,
Standard 4— Assessments 2, 3,
Standard 5— Assessments 1, 2, 4,

(For each Tool, indicate the following assessments)
Tool 1 — Assessments 2, 6
Tool 2 — Assessments 2, 6
Tool 3 — Assessments 2, 4
Tool 4 — Assessments 1, 2, 5
Tool 5 — Assessments 2, 3
Tool 6 — Assessments 1, 2, 5
Tool 7 — Assessments 2, 4
Tool 8— Assessments 2
Tool 9 — Assessments 2, 4

Assessment #1A
Assessment #1B
Assessment #2
Assessment #3
Assessment #4
Assessment #5
Assessment #6


Overall Findings

Findings: Content Knowledge
1.  Analysis of performance on three assessments over three years indicate Standard 1 (Promoting Child Development & Learning) to be a relative strength in the program.  A large percentage of students “exceed expectations” on this standard, although each year one student “did not meet expectations” for Standard 1 on at least one assessment.

2.  In 2010-2011 and 2012-2013 students showed relative strength in Standard 2 (Building Family and Community Relations) on each of three assessments.   

3.  Tools 5 (Identifying and Using Professional Resources), and 6 (Inquiry Skills & Knowledge of Research Methods) score higher than anecdotally reported by faculty who believe this to be an area of relative weakness in student performance.

Findings: Professional and Pedagogical Knowledge, Skill, and Dispositions
1.  Standard 3 (Observing, Documenting, & Assessing to Support Young Children and Families) scored high based on data from three assessments over three years.  However, the percentage of students “exceeding expectations” on the newly revised DAP: Charter School Assessment in 2012-2013 dipped from previous years and differed from the Standard 3 data reported by other assessments in the same year.

2.  Student performance data on two assessments indicate Standard 5 (Growing as a Professional) to be a strength in two of the three years reported.  For 2012-2013 there is a significant discrepancy between the two measures in the number of students who “exceeded expectations” for Standard 5 with students performing at a higher level on Assessment 2: ECE Leadership Portfolio than on Assessment 1: Exam, Project, Thesis or Paper.  

3.  Cultural Competence (Tool 1) scored the strongest of all Standards and Tools on all measures  of tht Tool.  There has been consistent improvement on this Tool over time.

4.  Tool 2 (Knowledge and Application of Ethical Principles) scored at a high level on Assessment 3, ECE Leadership Portfolio, but significantly weaker on the revised Assessment 6: Dispositions Assignment.

5.  Tool 7 (Collaborating, Teaching & Mentoring), Tool 8 (Advocacy), and Tool 9 (Leadership Skills) were all relatively weak areas of performance.  The implementation of LEE250, Leadership in ECE, as a required ECE core class will no doubt, improve student performance relative to these three tools.
Findings:  Student Learning
1.  The DAP: Charter School Assessment and the ECE Leadership Portfolio Assessment both identified Standard 4 (Teaching & Learning) as a strength over the three year period with approximately 40% of the scores at the level of “exceeding expectations.”


1. Align coursework and fieldwork syllabi, assessments, and data collection strategies with the 2010 NAEYC Standards, Key Elements, and Tools for Advanced Preparation Programs.

2. Continue to provide resources and advising to students regarding professional writing skills.  Although assessment scores for Tool 3 (Communication Skills) indicate that expectations are being met, faculty still believe written communication skills to be less than adequate for many students.  Faculty will provide feedback to students relative to their communication skills on written assignments and will refer students to the Graduate Writing Center for tutoring as soon as they are aware that students’ writing skills do not meet graduate-level standards within the classroom. Additionally, more emphasis can be given to writing skills through assignments using the Program’s writing rubric.

3. Collaborate with research faculty teaching ERA220 to provide carry-over assignments that involve Identifying and Using Professional Resources (Tool 5) and Inquiry Skills and Knowledge of Research Methods (Tool 6).  Expose students to more research articles that can be discussed in depth in class, and increase students’ opportunities to use evidence-based practices of measurement in classroom assignments.

4. Continue to monitor and adjust Assessment #6, Dispositions Assignment, to assure validity.

5. Expand assignments related to the K-6 developmental theories of Piaget, Ericson, and Vygotsky in LEE171, Trends and Issues in ECE, to include Transitional Kindergarten.  This inclusion of TK should be considered in other coursework and perhaps even fieldwork assignments.

Actions Taken    

Over the past several years the Early Childhood Education Advanced Program has made changes to strengthen its content and fieldwork experiences.  Despite faculty retirements and new hires, the program continues to attract early childhood educators from a variety of settings and backgrounds.  The following are some of the data-driven changes made to the Program:
1. Project/Thesis advisors work more closely with candidates in ERA220, Research in Education, the semester before they register for a project or thesis to focus their skills in methodology and analysis of data (Essential Tools 4 & 6)

2. The Program works with University graduate administration to provide resources specifically designed to better develop graduate-level writing skills (Essential Tool 3).

3. In spring, 2012, all four ECE core classes (LEE171, Trends and Issues in ECE; LEE232, Literacy in ECE; LEE233 Curriculum and Assessment in ECE; and LEE271, Diversity in ECE) were approved as required for the ECE Graduate Program.  In the past, students were required to take 3 of the 4 core classes.  This action better assures more uniform coverage of all Standards and Tools for all students in the Advanced Program.

4. A new class, LEE250, Leadership in ECE, was approved at the School level and has moved on for University approval this fall 2013 semester.  This required course will become part of the ECE core and will speak directly to strengthening Standard 5 (Growing as a Professional) and Essential Tools 3 (Communication Skills), 5 (Skills in Identifying and Using Professional Resources), 8 (Advocacy Skills), and 9 (Leadership Skills).  

5. The Combined DAP: Charter School assessment was modified as a result of the University approval of the required four core classes (see #3 above).  Each of the four component-assessments were evaluated by faculty.  The DAP: Charter School assignment used in LEE233, Curriculum and Assessment in ECE, that was one of three components of the “combined” assessment was adopted singularly as Assessment #3 and the DAP: Charter School project previously assigned in LEE171, Trends and Issues in ECE, has become Assessment #6, Disposition Assignment.  

6. In compliance with school-level mandates, a comprehensive exam was developed by ECE faculty as an alternative to the Project and Thesis as a summative assessment of Program content mastery.  The exam was developed to reflect the same level of rigor as the Project and Thesis.  A rubric was developed to align with the quality descriptors associated with Standard 5 (Growing as a Professional) and Tools 4 (Mastery of Relevant Theory and Research) and 6 (Inquiry Skills and Knowledge of Research Methods) as assessed by the Project and Thesis.

7. A system for data storage was developed through the University’s Blackboard system.  This system allows faculty to independently enter assessment data for easy access to the entire Program’s faculty when preparing reports or contemplating changes in the Program.

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