Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Jeanne L. Surface


The professional capacity of a kindergarten teacher is central to the implementation of developmentally appropriate practices that support children’s learning and development. Evidence indicates that a teacher’s professional capacity is influenced through experiences with leadership, professional learning, and collaboration. Although research clearly supports the positive impact of play experiences for young children, the current educational climate does not provide teachers with the confidence or the structural supports needed to actualize play in kindergarten classrooms. The findings demonstrate what influences kindergarten teachers to implement guided play practices in their classrooms. The implications provide insight as to which elements of leadership, professional learning, and collaboration are most influential. A theory of change demonstrates how to impact quality play experiences in support of children’s learning and development.


A Dissertation Presented to the Faculty of the Graduate College at the University of Nebraska in Partial Fulfillment of Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Education. Copyright 2020 Amy Schmidtke.

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