Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

School Name

Annsley Frazier Thornton School of Education



Major Advisor

Dr. Ali Taylor

Second Advisor

Dr. Grant Smith

Third Advisor

Dr. Tim Kinard


There is a growing body of research behind the play-based movement in education today – a topic that is somewhat controversial (Nicolopoulou et al., 2010; Overstreet, 2018). While some are steeped in a more classical approach to early education, advocating learning should be painful (Adler & Van Doren, 1988), others are paving the way for a more progressive approach, suggesting play to be the premier window into a child’s development (Paley, 1979-2014; Wohlwend & Peppler, 2015). The purpose of this study was to look at how the perceptions of pre- and in-service teachers changed regarding play and storytelling after participating in a play and inquiry practicum. The study examined the experiences of 27 teachers, each with a story as unique as the person they grew to become. In an effort to understand, holistically, how the teachers were growing and changing, a triangulation of methods were employed - including the documentation of daily interactions, quantitative analyses, and in-depth interviews. The teachers, overall, reported a philosophical awakening, following the week of readings (Pre-Survey Composite = 1,565). For most, a slight reservation about the practical aspects of play, following the intensive week of teacher preparation work (Post 1 Composite = 1,487). And finally, a better understanding of play, theoretically and practically, following the three week play and inquiry workshop with the community children (Post 2 Composite = 1,513).