Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Human Development and Family Studies

First Advisor

Gayle J. Luze


The purpose of this dissertation was to explore multiple methods of assessing early childhood programs and to investigate children's individual experiences and activities in inclusive early child care and education settings. Specifically, this research investigated if individual play/learning experiences in early childhood programs differed for children with and without disabilities and the relationship between global quality of early childhood care and education programs and individual play/learning experiences of individual children with or without disabilities;Early care and education quality is a complex phenomenon influenced by variables that exist on a number of levels including overall program quality, personnel quality, and interaction quality. Paper 1 describes a proposed ecological framework recognizes the multifaceted and interwoven components that can comprise quality and acknowledges the variation of experiences and learning opportunities in the early childhood environment. It also acknowledges the importance of multiple aspects of quality that comprise the early childhood environment. Quality evaluations that only examine quality from one perspective, most often the program level, may be neglecting important contributions of the program to children's development. Examining quality only from the program level makes the assumption that classroom quality impacts every child in the classroom similarly. This may or may not be true. Assessing quality from multiple perspectives, including children's individual experiences is important to truly assess and improve quality and provides valuable information for the individualization of care;Paper 2 describes a research project that examined children's individual experiences and activities in early child care and education settings. Sixty 4- to 5-year-old children (30 with disabilities and 30 without disabilities) were observed in early care and education settings using the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale-Revised (ECERS-R) and items from the ECERS-R adapted to focus on an individual child's experience. Early childhood global quality had the largest effect on children's individual experiences after controlling for family and child characteristics. Furthermore, it appeared that the relationship between global quality and children's individual experiences did not vary by child characteristics, including disability status. There was some evidence, however, that the relationship between global quality and individual experiences varied by children's behavior problems.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Carolyn Luann Clawson



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

169 pages