Exploring Preschoolers' Personal Epistemology and Potential Links to Emotion: Using Embedded Instruction, Constant Comparative Approach and Focus Groups

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This qualitative study design utilizes embedded instruction with a constant comparative approach to explore the personal epistemologies of preschool children during peer focus groups. Personal epistemology is an individual's belief about knowledge and knowing, and little is known about early onset of epistemological development. This case study looks at how preschoolers' emotional engagement and affective interactions with peers may inform early conceptions of knowledge and knowing. This study investigated six preschoolers' epistemic responses and reactions over six 1-week lessons embedded within the scheduled classroom curriculum (theme-of-the-week), in which a consistent theme guided the literacy and center activities each week. Constant comparative method was conducted weekly to get an essence of their words, background knowledge, and experiences. Throughout the week, we observed whole class literacy, center activities, and probed during formative learning opportunities. This information helped us facilitate relevant and meaningful peer focus group at the end of each week. Focus groups were analyzed to include epistemological development, dimensions of knowledge/knowing, and emotion/affect. Findings suggest that preschoolers do exhibit unique information that can inform early epistemic development. We conclude future research with preschoolers' epistemologies and implications for teaching, learning, and development.