2011, Volume 14, Journal Articles

NZ Research in ECE Journal Volume 14 (2011)

early childhood research journal


Dr Andrew Gibbons and Dr Kaye Cederman
Joint NZRECE Editors for Vol. 14, 2011
Editorial, pp. 1 - 2.

Abstract:  The 14th issue of NZ Research in Early Childhood Education provides perspectives on assessment, inclusive practice, parent partnerships, and more. As a collection of papers it presents a range of views on the nature and purpose of early childhood education, and on the myriad relationships. An ongoing commitment to the community is evident in the breadth of empirical research conducted for the benefit of early childhood communities.    


From Vision to Practice: Are Children at the Centre or Clinging on at the Periphery of Practice within Early Childhood Care and Education Provision?

Mary Moloney
Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick, Ireland.
NZRECE Journal, Vol. 14, 2011, pp. 3 - 22.

Key Words: child-centred, agency, policy, practice, quality

Abstract:  Concepts such as child-centred practice, children's agency and active participation feature strongly within Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) policy. They have been shaped by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989). Thus children are increasingly recognised as being "able, willing and reliable contributors within their own significant social contexts of home and school" (Wyness, 2000, p. 2-3). What does this construction mean for children as they go about their daily life within ECCE settings?  What does it mean for practitioners working with young children on a daily basis?  What role do policy makers play in ensuring that the vision for children espoused in policy becomes a reality within practice? Drawing upon a doctoral study, this paper identifies multiple barriers to realising children's agency in daily practice.

"I'm Scared of That Baby": How Adults and Environments Contribute to Children's Positive or Negative Understandings and Experiences of Disability in Early Childhood Settings

Karen Turnock, Diane Gordon-Burns, Kerry Purdue, Benita Rarere-Briggs, and Robyn Stark
University of Canterbury, College of Education
NZRECE Journal, Vol. 14, 2011, pp. 23- 38.

Key Words: disability, inclusion, exclusion, early childhood, critical reflection

Abstract:  While New Zealand has robust policy and legislation to support the equitable inclusion of children and adults with disabilities across the education sectors, the lived experiences of some people with disabilities and their families challenge any sense that the country's education system is equitable. In this paper, we present accounts of children's experiences and understandings of disability, inclusion and exclusion in early childhood settings. In particular, we focus on how adults and environments contributed to children forming positive or negative constructions of disability, and the implications of this for inclusion. We then suggest some strategies or ideas for further dialogue that may help early childhood practitioners and other adults develop more inclusive early childhood settings and communities, with a particular emphasis on critical reflection of values and beliefs.

Playcentre Parent Educators' Assessment Practice

Brent Mawson
The University of Auckland
NZRECE Journal, Vol. 14, 2011, pp. 39 - 52.

Key Words: assessment, parent educator, community of practice, social competence.

Abstract: While research abounds on parenting and on teaching, the practice of parents as educators within more or less formal educational settings is an area in which little research has been done. Hence, information on complex practices such as assessment of children by parent educators in early childhood settings has been similarly scarce, yet the role of assessment is regarded critical to teaching and learning. The Playcentre movement in New Zealand is unique in the degree to which parents are involved in the teaching process. This article examines the assessment practice of 16 Playcentre parent educators. Data was gathered through semi-structured interviews with the parent educators and analysis of the learning portfolios of 26 children. Assessment of children's learning was focused on their social competence, in particular cooperation and friendship. The key influences in developing the parent educators' knowledge and understanding of assessment were the relationships and processes within the Playcentre and a strong community of practice was clearly evident.

The Intricacies of Mentoring and Teaching Assessment in Field-based Early Childhood Teacher Education

Caterina Murphy and Jenny Butcher
Te Tari Puna Ora o Aotearoa/NZ Childcare Association
NZRECE Journal, Vol. 14, 2011, pp. 53 - 66.

Key Words: practicum, student assessment, field-based, teacher education.

Abstract: This qualitative study focused on listening to and documenting the teaching practice experiences of first year early childhood student teachers in a New Zealand field-based teacher education programme. Eleven students in two separate focus groups were interviewed from one campus. Four research questions guided the study centering on relationships, assessment, goal-setting and field-based teacher education. This article reports findings on student relationships and assessment. Key themes emerged from the students' stories such as the importance of communication with and accessibility to their mentoring teachers. Suggestions are offered for teacher education providers when developing policies and practices for supporting students and strengthening their practice. The implications drawn from the findings may be helpful as points of reflection to those who are involved in field-based teacher education.

Dynamic Ways of Knowing. Not Just in Our Heads: A Study of a Continuous Practicum in Field Based Teacher Education

Cheryl McConnell
Eastern Institute of Technology
NZRECE Journal, Vol. 14, 2011, pp. 67 - 80

Key Words: teacher education, early childhood education, practicum, contextualised learning

Abstract: Field Based Teacher Education (FBTE) is one approach to initial teacher education (ITE) in New Zealand. The research project reported here analysed the extent to which a continuous practicum contributed to early childhood student teachers' professional development in one FBTE Diploma Programme. A qualitative methodology within an interpretive paradigm was used. Data was generated using individual interviews with four graduate teachers, reflective journals from five teacher educators and questionnaires from 26 peer support teachers. The results suggest a continuous practicum provides highly contextualised learning in specific social and cultural early childhood contexts. These contexts, along with campus classes, provide student teachers with weekly opportunities to interweave theory and practice. It is the continuous practicum that creates a 'dynamic knowing' as students 'see' and learn through practice. This research provides a basis for further investigation into how teachers' learning can be embedded in the socio-cultural practices of teaching communities.

Partnerships in Integrated Early Childhood Centres: Getting from Policies to Practices

Elspeth McInnes & Susan Nichols
University of South Australia
NZRECE Journal, Vol. 14, 2011, pp. 81 -94.

Key Words: partnership, integrated services, policy, professional development

Abstract:  Working with parents as partners with early childhood services in supporting their children's well-being has become increasingly complex as early childhood services move into integrated services provision. This paper reports on one element of a three-phase exploratory study into the ways in which parent partnerships are enacted in early childhood and family services in South Australia. The research took place shortly after the South Australian Government announced plans for integrated Children's Centres, bringing together children's services, schools, health and family services and community programs. The research process encompassed a policy analysis, case studies and professional development workshops. This article focuses on the professional development workshops examining the ways in which childcare providers, kindergarten and pre-school educators, community nurses and other service providers engaged with families. The types of engagement with families which practitioners described reflected diverse practices and approaches. These were driven by the type of service provided, the terms of service provision and the need to accomplish particular service outcomes, such as timely attendance or payment of fees. The workshops highlighted the diverse ways in which practitioners define and enact partnerships and the resultant discursive contest between different meanings and practices. They provided a valuable process towards the development of a shared understanding of the goals of integrated services provision.

The Aesthetic Responses of Babies: Paintings That Captivate Their Interest

Kathy Danko-McGhee
The Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio
NZRECE Journal, Vol. 14, 2011, pp. 95 - 120

Key Words: infants, aesthetic preferences, visual stimulation, brain development.

Abstract: The research reported here is phase two of a three-tier investigation. While infants looked at a variety of images, this phase focuses on their aesthetic preferences for abstracted and representational painting reproductions of landscapes, seascapes, still-life and portraits. Previous aesthetic preference research focused on children ages two and older, which has ultimately left infants unnoticed. Determining the aesthetic preferences of infants can help parents, child-care providers, early childhood art educators, and picture book illustrators to provide imagery that is aesthetically appealing to this particular audience. Because a stimulating environment (that includes visuals) is important for early brain development, providing infants with visually engaging imagery that they prefer could influence this process. Phase two of this research study has concluded that with this group of 115 children, 2 to 12 month old infants, when given a choice, preferred both abstracted and representational paintings, while 13 to 18 month old infants, when given a choice, preferred more representational paintings.

Discourses of Happiness in Infant-Toddler Pedagogy

Jean Rockel (University of Auckland) & Janita Craw (AUT University)
NZRECE Journal, Vol. 14, 2011, pp. 121 - 131

Key Words: happiness, infant, toddler, pedagogy.

Abstract: In a recent investigation of teachers' pedagogy with infants and toddlers in New Zealand early childhood care and education centres, the theme of happiness was identified as a pedagogical aspiration. This theme is a component of a two-year qualitative multiple case study research project in which five researchers worked with twelve infant-toddler teachers in five early childhood centres in two cities in New Zealand. The research project examined ways in which the teachers understood the infant and toddler as 'learner' and considered multiple pathways of early learning. The desire for children's happiness is often mentioned by teachers and parents as an important goal but left unexplored and un-theorised in regard to infant-toddler pedagogy. This article focuses on selected data from one early childhood centre. 


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