Margaret Dougherty


Alan Stoskopf, Andrea Martone

Date of Award


Date Accepted


Degree Grantor

Northeastern University

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Department or Academic Unit

College of Professional Studies, School of Education


education, elementary education, educational evaluation, early childhood education, academic achievement, curriculum fidelity, early childhood learning, kindergarten, play-based curriculum, qualitative


Education | Elementary Education and Teaching | Pre-Elementary, Early Childhood, Kindergarten Teacher Education


Structured Play and Student Learning in Kindergarten: An Outcome Evaluation

This qualitative research study was an outcome evaluation of an alternative kindergarten curriculum to those currently used in most public schools. Tools of the Mind, a Vygotskian, play-based curriculum was implemented during the 2010-2011 school year in four kindergarten classrooms, involving data from approximately 50 students, within a public school district located in a rural, coastal region of New England.

The following three research questions were investigated in this study:

1. How does the Tools of the Mind curriculum develop students' literacy skills and understandings through play?

2. How does the teachers' implementation of the Tools of the Mind curriculum reflect the curriculum as it was intended to be implemented? and

3. How do students who have experienced the Tools curriculum perform on the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS)?

This methodology used was a qualitative, five-step protocol (University of Wisconsin, Madison, Cooperative Extension Campus) to assess the interplay of the intended, the enacted, and the attained curriculum (Marzano, 2003). The Tools of the Mind curriculum was analyzed, the teachers were surveyed about their implementation fidelity, and student DIBELS data was analyzed. This study used the teacher survey responses and the student DIBELS data, to design questions used in follow up interviews with teachers and the early childhood director. The responses to these interview questions created the depth of detail needed to understand the impact of the curriculum on student learning outcomes and the teachers' professional dispositions about teaching kindergarten.

The study findings provide educational policy makers, public school leaders, and classroom teachers with another example of a way to alter their current kindergarten environment if they so choose.

Document Type

Doctoral Thesis

Rights Information

copyright 2012

Rights Holder

Moira Smith Rodgers