Developing Effective Online Early Childhood Courses Through Innovative Partnerships


Early childhood, or birth through age 8, is the most influential time during a child’s brain development — a time in which teachers can make an impact that has life-long effects. Children who experience effective early childhood programs are more likely to finish college, get high-paying jobs, and be healthier and happier later in life. Unfortunately, many teachers lack the skills they need to support young children’s cognitive and social development, resulting in fewer children receiving a high-quality early childhood education.

A new initiative at the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL) aims to put more effective teachers in early childhood classrooms to ensure that every child has the educational experiences they need to succeed in school and life. Researchers at CASTL will develop, implement and evaluate a novel, competency-based approach to train and support early childhood teachers. The initiative goals are to:

  1. Create a set of high-quality, web-based early childhood courses that provide authentic training experiences and can be easily deployed to emerging and practicing early childhood providers

  2. Evaluate those courses within innovative partnerships aimed at improving early childhood education in high-need settings

In support of this initiative, the Stranahan Foundation has awarded $600,000 to CASTL to design and implement a suite of online courses as part of a bachelor degree program. CASTL, in collaboration with UVA’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies (SCPS), developed a new early childhood concentration through the Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies (BIS) program.

Designed for adult learners seeking to complete their undergraduate degree with a focus on early childhood, the BIS program’s online platform and seamless enrollment makes the courses more accessible to non-traditional students — and those already working in early childhood education who want to enhance their skills — than traditional collegiate pathways.

To learn more about this project, please contact Jennifer LoCasale-Crouch at jl3d@virginia.edu.

Project Status: Jan 2019 - Dec 2021

Funding Source: Stranahan Foundation

Principal Investigator: Jennifer LoCasale-Crouch