PRAXIS II Principles of Learning and Teaching: Early Childhood Exam

The Principles of Learning and Teaching: Early Childhood exam is divided into two sections relating to topics associated with early childhood education: one section includes four case studies with 4 corresponding short answers questions, and the multiple choice section consists of 70 questions divided into four sections.

The short answer section will give four teaching related scenarios, with three questions each, pertaining to comprehension of forms of teaching, guidelines for learning and teaching associated with various methods of teaching, and the implementation of the techniques. Two hours is given to complete the entire exam.

The first area that the questions may address is Students as Learners, which consists of theories of learning, theories of human development, differences in learning styles, laws and responsibilities related to diversity in schools, the management of the classroom, and ways to promote motivation in the classroom. The next area is the instruction process, which focuses on types of learning and methods of teaching, such as the inquiry method and learning centers, techniques and materials involved with forms of teaching and learning, and strategies for creating lesson plans. The next section is assessment which focuses on the variety of ways to grade and assess students. The last area of questioning addresses Profession and Community and involves knowledge of resources for educators and the role of teachers beyond the classroom.

The short-answer questions can be given scores from 0-2, with the high score being 2. A score of 2 is given for answers that respond to each element in the question with a superb understanding of important parts of the scenario and a strong demonstration of theories and methods that apply to the situation. A score of 1 is given for fair demonstration of this knowledge and for response to only part of the question. A score of 0 is given for misinterpreting the important aspects in the scenario and misapplying theories and concepts. The Students as Learners and the Instructional Process sections contribute approximately 22.5% each to the total score, the Assessment section contributes 15% to the score, the Professional Development and Community questions contribute to about 15%% of the score, and the Analysis of Instructional Scenarios contributes 25% of the total score.


PRAXIS II Principles Of Learning And Teaching: Early Childhood Practice Questions

1. Developmental psychology studies:

A. motor and language skills
B. problem-solving abilities
C. moral understanding
D. All of the above

2. List some skills learned in early childhood.

A. Wider social interactions
B. More attuned to people
C. Taking the initiative
D. All of the above

3. Which of the following is not used in qualitative analysis?

A. Tests
B. Classroom observation
C. Interviews
D. Computer logs

4. Which technique is not effective when using behavior modification?

A. Biofeedback
B. Reinforcement
C. Punishment
D. Aversion therapy

5. The major learning styles are:

A. visual
B. auditory
C. tactile/kinesthetic
D. All of the above


Answer Key: Principles Of Learning And Teaching: Early Childhood

1. Answer: D

Human development or developmental psychology is the scientific study of the emotional and behavioral growth of human beings from birth to death. This branch of psychology studies the development of motor and language skills, problem-solving abilities, conceptual and moral understanding and the formation of a unique identity. A major research focus is how children are different from adults: Are they qualitatively different or do they merely lack experience because they haven’t lived as long? Another question explored: Do human beings accumulate knowledge or move from one way of thinking to another as they age? Are babies born with certain information imprinted in their brains, or do they learn how to figure things out as they learn life lessons (the nature versus nurture debate)?

2. Answer: D

In early childhood, approximately three to five years of age, children widen their social interactions and become more involved with and attuned to the people around them. They are eager to explore their environment, take risks, find adventure in the backyard and discover how things work. Children this age are very creative and expressive. Their world might have purple trees, an orange sky, and super heroes living behind the garage.

It is the responsibility of the caregivers in his or her life to encourage initiative and exploration and help the child learn from mistakes. If the caretaker offers appropriate praise when earned and is consistent with discipline when needed, the child will become more responsible, follow through on assigned tasks and develop a healthy, positive self-esteem. If the child is not allowed to make some decisions for himself and be a little independent, he may stop taking the initiative altogether and be easily led by other people.

3. Answer: A

Because of the underlying cognitive differences between children and adults, educational psychologists have designed new and often innovative methods to study how children learn, as well as the unique educational problems and instructional issues encountered in the classroom environment. Experiments and studies must be designed so they provide internal, external, and ecological validity. Methods should include both quantitative and qualitative measurements.

An important development in quantitative methodology is factor analysis, which is used to summarize a set of variables, such as test questions, develop theories about both positive and negative reactions to the test, and determine the reliability of the content of test questions.

Qualitative analysis uses verbal data gathered from the notes of classroom instructors and/or classroom observers. The information can be obtained from conversations, interviews, focus groups, and personal journals. Analysis can also come from students’ artwork, computer logs, and interactions recorded on video.

4. Answer: C

The American Heritage College Dictionary defines behavior modification as “the use of basic learning techniques, such as conditioning, biofeedback, reinforcement, or aversion therapy, to alter human behavior.” When the goal is to alter inappropriate behavior, the conduct must be defined, observed, and measured before techniques can be developed to change the undesirable activity. All behavior follows a particular, defined set of consistent rules; if the rules change, the conduct changes. All conduct is maintained, shaped, and changed by the consequences of that conduct. All children (with certain exceptions) function best when they know the rules and understand the consequences of those rules.

Behavior can be changed by either reinforcement or punishment. Studies have shown that reinforcement strengthens behavior, while punishment weakens it. To effectively modify behavior, the consequences must be relevant and follow immediately after the action. Paying attention to unacceptable behavior stops the conduct at the moment but does little to permanently alter the behavior. Reinforcement of the desired behavior is much more effective in bringing about lasting change, which is the goal.

5. Answer: D

A “learning style” describes how a particular individual best learns. Teachers should be aware of the various ways children learn, so they can develop multi-faceted lesson plans that capitalize on the students’ strengths and compensate for their weaknesses. Some people learn almost exclusively using one method while others use one or two or a combination of all three. However, those who use a combination do have a dominant or preferred style. The primary learning styles may be defined as follows:

  • VISUAL LEARNERS tend to think in pictures, so diagrams, graphic illustrations, videos, and handouts help them. They take detailed notes for later reference.
  • AUDITORY LEARNERS learn through lectures, discussions, talking things out, and listening to others. They may not understand written information until they hear it read aloud.
  • TACTILE/KINESTHETIC LEARNERS learn by moving, doing, touching. They need hands-on activities. They may become distracted if made to sit still for long periods of time.