Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Date of Award

January 2022

Degree Type


Degree Name



Education Evaluation and Research

First Advisor

Kevin Carroll


The field of early childhood education is one of high stress and low compensation. Yet, little is known about how the increased demands for accountability and professionalization within the field impact the workforce. This study examines whether educators in high- and low-quality early learning settings experience differences in professional identity development, work-related stress, and professional dissonance between feelings of authority and vulnerability. Previous research on these issues has been limited to small qualitative studies that have shown that educators may experience more stress and professional dissonance in conjunction with increases in their professional experience and demands on their time to document accountability measures. This study intends to examine this issue within the context of robust quantitative methods and develop an early childhood professional identity scale, which researchers and early learning program administrators can use to evaluate the well-being and professional commitment of early childhood educators. However, the findings of this study are not consistent with those found in previous research, indicating that there is little difference in the professional identity of educators regardless of the quality of the program in which they work. the results of this study should be considered with some caution due to small sample size. The study concludes with recommendations for further development of an early childhood professional identity scale.