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Turkish early childhood pre-service teachers’ beliefs about free play and teacher roles in free play

Meran, Sevi
The purpose of this study was to investigate Turkish early childhood pre-service teachers’ beliefs about free play and teacher roles in play as well as the changes, if any, occur in these beliefs after taking teaching practice course. In this study, explanatory sequential mixed method was employed and qualitative data was used to support and enrich the quantitative data. The participants of the study were senior early childhood preservice teachers from public universities in Ankara, Denizli, Eskişehir, Kırıkkale, Kırşehir, Mersin, Uşak and Van. Firstly, Free Play in Early Childhood Education and Teacher Roles in Free PlayQuestionnaireswere administered to participants (N=467, N=425) at the beginning and end of 2018-2019 fall term. Following that semi-structured one-on-one interviews were carried out with volunteer pre-service teachers(N=24). Descriptive statistics; means, percentages and frequencies was used to analyze quantitative data while descriptive analysis was used to analyze qualitative data. According to the results, preservice teachers believe that alongside the contributions of free play to learning and development, it may bring about such negative consequences for children as peer bullying, aggression towards others and materials, and negative peer learning, especially if it is not under adult supervision. However, the preservice teachers were found to be prone to redirecting, intervening in play for instructive purposes so they seem to need clarification about director and guide teacher roles. Moreover, the changes noted in preservice teachers’ beliefs after teaching practice course were found to related to the practices of the mentor teachers which were disapproved by preservice teachers