Study Guide

Field 001: Assessment of Professional Knowledge:
Early Childhood (PK–3)
Sample Multiple-Choice Questions

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Competency 0001
Understand processes of human development, variations in student development, and how to apply this knowledge to provide instructional environments and experiences that promote all students' development and learning.

According to the theoretical framework developed by Lev Vygotsky, a young child's cognitive development is most strongly influenced by which of the following factors?

  1. encounters with conflicting ideas that lead to disequilibrium and motivate change
  2. positive reinforcement from key individuals in the child's life
  3. genetically programmed characteristics that unfold gradually throughout childhood
  4. conversations and other interactions with adults or more able peers
Correct Response: D.
This question requires the examinee to demonstrate knowledge of the major theories of human development as related to students in early childhood. Vygotsky's sociocultural theory is based on the idea that social interactions are the most important factor in creating cognitive structures and thinking processes. Higher mental processes, such as problem solving, are first co-constructed during shared activities or discussions between the child and another person. These processes are then internalized by the child and become part of the child's cognitive development.

Competency 0002
Understand learning processes, factors that can affect student learning and performance, and how to apply this knowledge to provide instructional environments and experiences that promote all students' learning and achievement.

As part of a science unit on living things, a first-grade class germinates seeds in damp paper towels and carefully transplants the sprouted seeds into peat pots. The students care for the young plants in the classroom and make observations throughout the process, including noting that several of the plants fail to survive. Before concluding the activity, the teacher plans to ask the students questions about what they have learned about seeds and plants. Which of the following questions asked by the teacher would best help promote the students' use of higher-order thinking skills?

  1. What do seedlings need in order to grow into healthy plants?
  2. What would you do differently the next time you plant seedlings to help all of them survive?
  3. Do you think it is easy or difficult to care for seedlings?
  4. Do seedlings planted indoors grow differently from seedlings planted outdoors?
Correct Response: B.
This question requires the examinee to apply knowledge of strategies for promoting higher-order thinking skills. Such skills include critical thinking and problem solving. These skills are important in order to develop a more complete understanding of material being learned, and they are also transferable to novel situations. Asking children to reflect on what actions could be taken in the future to improve a given outcome would prompt them to analyze cause-and-effect relationships and to apply understanding of these relationships to plan future actions that would help to solve the problem.

Competency 0003
Understand student diversity and how to provide learning opportunities and environments that are responsive to student differences, promote all students' learning, and foster students' appreciation of and respect for diversity.

An elementary student who has a mild cognitive impairment is likely to experience the most difficulty in which of the following areas?

  1. generalizing learned skills to new contexts
  2. following classroom routines
  3. working with a peer on a class activity
  4. identifying personal interests
Correct Response: A.
This question requires the examinee to demonstrate knowledge of different types of student exceptionalities, their characteristics, and their implications for teaching and learning. Cognitive impairment is defined, in part, as a disability characterized by significant limitations in intellectual functioning. While students with average cognitive abilities can be expected to generalize new knowledge or skills from one situation to the next, often with minimal support, students with cognitive impairments need explicit instruction in this process of generalization. To learn most effectively, students with cognitive impairments need frequent opportunities to practice, with guidance, newly acquired knowledge and skills in appropriate and relevant educational or real-world settings.

Competency 0004
Understand assessment instruments and practices, the relationship between assessment and instruction, and how to use assessment to guide instruction and monitor students' learning progress.

A teacher regularly gives students brief quizzes of three to five questions covering material taught in the current or preceding lesson. Which of the following is likely to be the primary benefit of this practice?

  1. helping improve instruction through ongoing feedback on teaching effectiveness
  2. minimizing the amount of reteaching required for students to master curricular content
  3. ensuring that the teacher has adequate performance data to assign students a fair grade for the class
  4. enhancing students' engagement in the learning process and recognition of key learning goals
Correct Response: A.
This question requires the examinee to apply strategies for using assessment to monitor student understanding and to guide instruction. A primary purpose of classroom assessment is to determine whether students have mastered targeted concepts and skills. Giving students brief quizzes at frequent intervals allows the teacher to quickly determine whether students have achieved this mastery as well as the effectiveness of particular instructional strategies or approaches in promoting student learning. If students perform well on a daily quiz, the teacher can be relatively sure that the approach used in a lesson was effective in promoting student learning. If students perform poorly on a daily quiz, the teacher must then use an alternate methodology or different examples to facilitate students' understanding. The ongoing use of frequent quizzes helps promote the teacher's ability to tailor instruction to students' specific learning needs.

Competency 0005
Understand principles and procedures of curricular and instructional planning and how to use effective planning to design instruction that promotes all students' learning and achievement.

A teacher is planning lessons for a new instructional unit. The teacher can best ensure the effectiveness of these lessons by considering which of the following questions first?

  1. What is the fairest and most efficient way to evaluate students' achievement of unit objectives?
  2. Which unit activities are best completed individually and which activities are best done in a group?
  3. What background knowledge and experience do students already have with regard to the unit topic?
  4. In what ways does the unit support the goals of the district curriculum in this subject area?
Correct Response: C.
This question requires the examinee to identify procedures used in curricular planning and decision making. The extent of students' prior knowledge and experience with a topic helps determine a teacher's approach to a new unit. If most students have a good foundation of information with regard to the unit topic, the teacher may only need to provide a brief review before beginning the unit. Conversely, if students have had limited or no experience with a unit topic, the teacher will need to help students acquire foundational knowledge of the topic before proceeding with planned instruction.

Competency 0006
Understand principles and practices associated with various instructional approaches and how to apply these principles and practices to promote all students' achievement of instructional goals.

Which of the following strategies would likely be most effective in improving the quality and effectiveness of cooperative learning experiences for elementary students?

  1. allowing students to choose their own group members for group activities
  2. providing students with direct instruction and guided practice in group-process skills
  3. delaying group work until students have had a chance to get to know each other well
  4. giving students verbal feedback on their group work instead of assigning them a grade
Correct Response: B.
This question requires the examinee to demonstrate knowledge of how to provide instruction that helps students work cooperatively and productively. Successful cooperative learning experiences depend on group members' effective use of specific process skills. These skills include communicating appropriately, giving and receiving constructive feedback, coming to consensus, and encouraging participation by all group members. Providing students with explicit instruction in these skills and opportunities to practice them gives students the tools they need to achieve success in cooperative tasks across the curriculum and in the real world.

Competency 0007
Understand principles and practices of motivation and communication and how to apply these principles and practices effectively to promote students' active engagement and learning.

Students in an early elementary class are completing a unit about their community. Which of the following teacher questions related to the unit would best promote the students' use of divergent thinking?

  1. What was one important thing you learned about your community during the unit?
  2. What do police officers do to keep people in your community safe?
  3. What are some things you can do on your own to keep your community clean and attractive?
  4. What do people use your community's public library for?
Correct Response: C.
This question requires the examinee to demonstrate knowledge of how to use various questioning techniques to achieve instructional goals. Divergent thinking is the ability to propose many different ideas or answers. Questions that promote this type of thinking are open-ended, allow for many possible answers, and do not always have right or wrong answers. Discussion questions that promote divergent thinking are generally structured so that individual student responses prompt elaboration or additional responses from other students, providing a wider range of responses and adding depth to the discussion.

Competency 0008
Understand how to structure and manage the classroom to establish a safe, inclusive, and positive environment that is organized and productive; fosters excellence; and promotes learning, appropriate student behavior, and effective work habits.

Two kindergartners, Jack and Leilani, are building a castle in the block area. Liam, a classmate, sits down to play with them. Jack and Leilani tell Liam that he cannot join in their project because it is almost done and they have a special plan for the castle that they decided on together. Liam says they have to let him play, and soon the children are arguing and pushing each other. Their teacher has noticed that Jack and Leilani often choose to play together and prefer not to include other children. Which of the following strategies should the teacher try first to facilitate conflict resolution among the children?

  1. meeting with Jackís and Leilaniís parents to let them know of the children's refusal to include Liam and other children and to work on a plan to help them learn to include others
  2. telling Jack and Leilani that they must let Liam join them in their project or they will have to leave the block area
  3. posting illustrated rules for cooperative play where they are easy to see and asking Jack, Leilani, and Liam to refer to them often
  4. having Jack, Leilani, and Liam describe their feelings about the present situation and helping them generate some potential solutions to the problem
Correct Response: D.
This question requires the examinee to demonstrate knowledge of strategies for promoting positive student interactions and facilitating conflict resolution. According to research, helping children develop problem-solving skills is a highly effective deterrent to conflict, aggression, and antisocial behavior. Effective steps in problem solving include teaching children to pay attention to and identify their feelings, describe the current problem in a way that explains how it makes them feel, and seek help from an adult in generating several solutions to the problem. Research has shown that children who have more solutions to choose from usually solve the problem before resorting to aggression.

Competency 0009
Understand how to establish partnerships and collaborate effectively with families, colleagues, and members of the community to enhance and support student learning.

As a new school year begins, a second-grade teacher is making plans to hold a conference with the parent(s)/guardian(s) of each student in his class. During each conference, the teacher will discuss broad goals and expectations for all students in the class. Which of the following additional teacher actions during the conferences would best help promote positive communication and a sense of partnership with parents/guardians?

  1. encouraging parents/guardians to share their own goals for their child's learning and development during the upcoming year as well as any concerns they may have
  2. providing a thorough review of the second-grade curriculum in each subject and giving parents/guardians time to ask questions about the content to be covered
  3. soliciting from parents/guardians information about any problematic situations in the home that they believe may affect their child's learning and achievement in school
  4. sharing information with parents/guardians about the teacher's own personal and educational background and his professional credentials
Correct Response: A.
This question requires the examinee to demonstrate an understanding of how to develop partnerships with families to support student learning. Efforts to create partnerships with parents/guardians should begin with the teacher's recognition that parents/guardians are knowledgeable, influential people who have contributions to make to students and their education. True partnerships between teachers and parents/guardians are balanced, with both parties being seen as having valuable knowledge and perspectives. When a teacher solicits input from parents/guardians about their goals for their children's learning and development as well as their concerns, it initiates two-way communication and helps set the stage for this balance.

Competency 0010
Understand roles and expectations for professional educators, legal and ethical guidelines, and strategies for continuous professional growth and self-reflection.

A new teacher has asked her mentor to observe instruction during several lessons and provide feedback on her teaching. These observations are likely to be most beneficial if the new teacher takes which of the following actions before they occur?

  1. identifying for the mentor specific aspects of her instruction, such as leading discussions, that she has particular concerns about
  2. explaining to her students ahead of time the purpose and intended outcomes of the observations
  3. providing the mentor with an overview of her students' current achievement levels, interests, and behavior patterns
  4. clarifying for the mentor key aspects of her own current philosophy of teaching and learning
Correct Response: A.
This question requires the examinee to demonstrate knowledge of types of professional development opportunities and resources, including interactions with mentors, and their use in enhancing professional knowledge, skills, and expertise. New teachers often have difficulty assessing their own teaching practices and an observation by a more experienced mentor can provide helpful insights. New teachers who are struggling with a particular aspect of teaching (e.g., class discussions) will benefit most from targeted feedback in that area. Providing a specific focus for an observation helps direct the mentor's attention and helps ensure that the post-observation dialogue between the mentor and the teacher addresses an identified need.