This research aimed to investigate the behavior intention of early childhood teachers to apply teaching aids. The survey method was used to collect data from 281 early childhood teachers currently working at early childhood education institutes. The data was analyzed by t-test, Chi-square analysis, and Pearson coefficient to examine the differences and correlation on various dimensions in different backgrounds. Stepwise regression-coefficient was analyzed to investigate the predictability of self-efficacy on behavior intention of teaching aids application of early childhood teachers. The results showed that: a. all early childhood teachers agreed that teaching aids acquired multiple functions; b. environmental conditions of teaching aids provided by early childhood education institutes located in different cities were different; c. most teachers showed both positive self-efficacy and high behavior intention of applying teaching aids in their teaching; d. behavior intention of applying teaching aids was influenced by the restriction of environmental conditions; e. teachers with higher self-efficacy also had higher behavior intention to use teaching aids in teaching; f. the major reason for not using teaching aids was because teachers had too many chores to prepare. Finally, some suggestions were proposed according to the results for the reference of relevant organizations and staff.
Keywords: Early childhood teachers, teaching aids, behavior intention
Research Background and Motivation
Early childhood is a stage when physical and mental functions such as body, cognition, language, social relation and emotion are wholly developing. Therefore, many countries devoted a large amount of men and money on promoting early childhood education. For the past few centuries, employment population of women workforce has increased due to the prosperous economy, therefore, children must be taken care of by nannies or early childhood education institutes. Therefore, the numbers of day-care centers and early childhood education institutes have been redoubled in recent years. To guarantee the quality of early childhood education institutes and the rights of children, early childhood education has gathered people's attention. "Good teachers make a strong nation" is an old Chinese proverb, which showed the importance of the quality of early childhood teachers as they will impose the initial influence to the whole lives of children (Carol & Nita,1990 ; Shi,1999).
What professional knowledge should an excellent teacher acquire? From the teaching model designed by educators, it should include: analyzing students' attributes, deciding teaching goals, editing or choosing teaching materials, choosing suitable teaching media, guiding students to give feedback, and teaching evaluations (Qin, 2004). Apart from these, how to choose an appropriate teaching media to suit with the nature of teaching materials and professional knowledge and skills for applying teaching aids in teaching. Early childhood educator, Montessori (1870-1952), suggested an early childhood education environment should be equipped with three elements: a fine environment, excellent teachers, and suitable teaching aids. He argued an excellent teacher not only has to look after children but to design a fine environment and also to apply different teaching skills (such as changing teaching methods, designing and choosing appropriate teaching aids), so as to nurture holistically developed children. Wu (1997) also believed teachers can not teach by mouths only, they should apply multimedia to cooperate with their teaching. By providing visual, audio, and tactual sensational experiences, teachers can inspire students' learning motivation and produce excellent teaching results. Therefore, teachers should acquire respectable professional knowledge, such as: excellent expressive ability; able to understand students' attributes; knowing how to cooperate teaching methods with suitable teaching aids; estimating if teaching aids are suitable for students' to handle and operate; evaluating if teaching aids match teaching situation; and if time allowance is sufficient, etc. …