Karen La Paro
PhD, University of New Orleans
My primary research focuses on effective teaching in early childhood classrooms. Within this area, I focus on pre-service teacher development, practicum and student teaching experiences of pre-service teachers and cooperating teachers, and assessing effective teachers and quality classrooms.
Measure Development Project (EQuIPS)
The development of a new measure for use in a Tiered Quality Rating and Improvement System (TQRIS) will allow for a broader understanding of quality in early care and education programs than is captured with measures currently in use. Although the conceptualization of items and measurement process has a foundation in children’s experiences, classroom and program practices known to promote optimal development and learning will be the focus of the measure; current measurement approaches emphasize the classroom as the unit of analysis with little attention to the programmatic systems that underlie classroom performance. The new measure is grounded in Early Learning and Development Standards as well as current child development theory and research, leading to a focus on practices that support important developmental outcomes valued across multiple states. It includes administrative/program level items; items across infant, toddler, preschool, age classrooms; and will be relevant for the broad range of programs included in TQRISs, including centers, family child care homes, public school programs, religious-affiliated programs, and Head Start. The measure is designed to take into consideration multiple sources of evidence from programs, teachers, and classrooms, through multiple methods of data collection including program self-assessment/document review, interviews, and observations and it will allow for continuous improvement over time. The assessment will result in a program level portrait showing program strengths and areas for improvement.
Practicum Experience Project (PEP)
The Practicum Experience Project (PEP) seeks to explore and understand specific components of the practicum experience for pre-service teachers in early care and education and their cooperating teachers. Specifically this project focuses on the development and exploration of a model as the foundation for teacher education the supports the development of highly effective teachers for young children. The aims of the project are (1) to collect data from early childhood education pre-service teachers in practicum classrooms about their perceptions of their relationships, comfort in the classroom, feelings of self-efficacy, communication around feedback, and support for teaching practices and (2) to collect data from cooperating teachers about their perceptions of relationships with practicum students and demographic information. Information gathered from this study will provide information to guide the development of effective practicum experiences for practicum students and support cooperating teachers in their mentoring and communication with students in our efforts to develop high quality teachers for young children.
OSEP Preparing Post-Baccalaureate Early Interventionsits/Early Childhood Educators for Working with ALL Children
The primary goal of the project is to increase the number of highly-qualified personnel to work with other professionals and families to implement responsive, evidence-based practices in their work with young children in high need community-based programs and schools, including children from traditionally underrepresented groups. Cooperating Teacher Collaboration and Development The Cooperating Teacher Collaboration and Development includes faculty from HDFS and SES focused on developing the knowledge base and mentoring skills of the cooperating teachers working with students in our BK/ECE program. This group has developed an orientation module for cooperating teachers and collected preliminary data on the usefulness of this module. The group also has distributed a needs assessment about the information topics that would be useful to cooperating teachers.