The Professional Identities of Child and Youth Program Assistants (CYPAs) at a Military Installationtation

Katherine Susan Clark, University of Texas at El Paso


This six-month long phenomenological case study seeks to add to the body of literature regarding the impact of learning on the construction of professional identities for early childhood care and education professionals by drawing on sociocultural theories of learning and identities. Specifically, this study explores how nine Child and Youth Program Assistants’ (CYPAs) professional identities construction was impacted by their personal and professional learning experiences. The study was conducted in the Southwestern region of the U.S. at Quartz CDC (QCDC) located on Ft. Gem Military Installation where the CYPAs were employed as early childhood professionals. The analysis of multiple data sources revealed CYPAs’ personal and professional learning experiences impacted the construction of their identities as early childhood professionals when it was social and occurred in context. It was also revealed that as CYPAs shared personal experiences with learning, families served as sources of recruitment for becoming members of the “figured world” (Holland, Lachicotte, Skinner, & Cain, 1998) of early childhood professionals. Learning experiences such as babysitting, volunteering, and being a part of a family were activities that enabled CYPAs to gain skills they later used as early childhood professionals. Lastly, as CYPAs talked about professional learning experiences it was found that while they valued various approaches to professional learning, they viewed these approaches as existing on a continuum. The findings of this study have implications for policy and the field of early childhood care and education as well as for research and practice related to the professional learning and identity construction of early childhood professionals.

Subject Area

Education|Teacher education

Recommended Citation

Clark, Katherine Susan, "The Professional Identities of Child and Youth Program Assistants (CYPAs) at a Military Installationtation" (2018). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI10823637.