The Year 4 interviews of the Learning Together study reveal that two to three years post degree, nearly 95 percent of graduates remain in the early care and education (ECE) field, and that graduates overwhelmingly report personal, professional and educational benefits as a result of their B.A. degree cohort program. Specifically, graduates report that structural aspects of their B.A. program, such as financial aid and flexible class schedules, were important to their educational success, that the cohort experience continues to provide them with professional support, and that as a result of their degree attainment they now earn more, have advanced in their careers, and continue to explore educational opportunities. Graduates also identified several important areas for programmatic improvement, such as expanding coursework to include ECE public policy and classes on working with adults. They also discuss workplace characteristics that support or impede their abilities to engage in good practice and to continue to develop their skills.
The Learning Together study focuses on four California counties’ (Alameda, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, and San Francisco) efforts to expand bachelor’s degree opportunities in early care and education (ECE) for working adults. The student cohort model – in which small groups of ECE students with similar interests and characteristics pursue a bachelor’s degree together and receive targeted support services – has emerged across the country.
The Learning Together study is supported by: First 5 Alameda County-Every Child Counts, First 5 Santa Barbara County, First 5 San Francisco, the WestEd – E3 Institute, and the W. Clement and Jessie V. Stone Foundation.