NZ Research in ECE Journal Volume 12 (2009)

early childhood research journal

Reviewing the Reviewers: Commentary on the Education Review Office’s Evaluation of Assessment in Early Childhood Settings

Ken E. Blaiklock
Unitec Institute of Technology, NZ
NZRECE Journal, Vol. 12, 2009, pp. 3- 10.

Key words: Assessment, learning stories, Te Whāriki

Abstract: The Education Review Office recently undertook a review of assessment practices in early childhood centres: The Quality of Assessment in Early Childhood Education. The report endorses the use of Learning Stories and is critical of educators who do not follow the guidelines on assessment in Te Whāriki and Kei Tua o te Pae. This paper argues that it is inappropriate for ERO to sanction an approach to assessment that is not adequately supported by research evidence. Moreover, early childhood centres that rely on the assessment techniques outlined in the ERO report may gather information that is of limited value for assessing essential areas of learning and development. The assessment techniques favoured by ERO may also be of limited value for planning future learning experiences or for showing changes in children’s learning and development over time.

Dictators and Directors: Leadership Roles in Children’s Collaborative Play

Brent Mawson
The University of Auckland, NZ
NZRECE Journal, Vol. 12, 2009, pp. 11 -22.

Key words: Leadership, kindergarten, peer relations

Abstract:Little research has been undertaken into the nature of relationships within children’s independent collaborative play. The focus of research has been on selected children working on adult set activities. This article reports on one aspect of a research project into children’s spontaneous collaborative play. The research was an interpretivist case study. The research question was “Which factors appear to initiate and maintain collaborative play between young children in early childhood settings?” Children’s spontaneous collaborative play was observed for two hours on one morning a week throughout the year, and documented through audio and videotaping, field notes, and digital photographs. A strong factor in initiating and maintaining a play episode was the roles taken within the group by individual children. Two key roles were those of dictator and director. The dictator was more autocratic and less able or likely to resolve inter-group conflict. The director on the other hand had a more democratic approach to conflict and was more ready to compromise to keep the play episode going. Both boys and girls filled these roles, although there were gender differences as to how they carried them out.

Recognising a Child’s Perspective of Time in Daily Practice

Marianne Knaus
University of New England, TAFE Illawarra Institute, NSW
NZRECE Journal, Vol. 12, 2009, pp. 23 - 32.

Keywords: Time, routines, phenomenology, Heidegger, Foucault, power relations

Abstract: In this paper, issues of time are examined considering a child’s point of view. What often happens within a child’s day is dictated by the routines and schedules set by the adults in his/her life. Using Heidegger’s notions of Being and Time, attention is given to children’s being in time. Drawing on phenomenological research from my PhD studies, I have looked at the significance of daily life experiences and how time is used. The lived experiences of young children observed in this study reveal that their understanding of time differs to that of adults. Questions are raised about regulating a child’s use of time with consideration to Foucault’s theoretical position that power relations are embedded in our culture.

Accentuating the Otherness of Men in Early Childhood Education

Alex M. Williams
Unitec Institute of Technology, NZ
NZRECE Journal, Vol. 12, 2009, pp. 33 - 44.

Key Words: Men in early childhood education, gender, otherness, gender positioning, early childhood policy

Abstract: The highly gendered nature of early childhood education is highlighted by the statistical reality that currently less than one percent of early childhood educators in New Zealandare men. This situation is of significant concern and has potentially negative implications, not only for the early childhood educational experiences for both boys and girls but also for the sector as a whole. This paper explores the notion that men in the early childhood sector, as a statistical minority, may be perceived in terms of being unusual, different and even perhaps as outsiders. An analysis of nine ‘Personal Stories’ posted on the TeachNZ (the recruiting arm of the Ministry of Education) website was conducted to gain an insight into how men in early childhood education can be unintentionally positioned as outside the norm and how the differences between men and women early childhood educators can be accentuated within this specific context (i.e., the TeachNZ website). This paper considers how such positioning of men within the early childhood education sector not only highlights the difference and otherness of men within the sector but may also actively contribute to the perpetuation of such a perception.

Everyday Cultural Development in the Life of a Three-year-old Child: A Vygotskian Interpretation of Dialectical Relations and Shared Meaning

Hilary Monk
Monash University, Australia
NZRECE Journal, Vol. 12, 2009, pp. 45 - 56.

Key words: Cultural-historical theory, sociocultural, young children, family, development

Abstract:Social interaction is impossible without words and words are nothing without shared meaning (Vygotsky, 1987). Children participate in home contexts that are full of shared cultural understandings. The research reported here is part of an ongoing study exploring the appropriation, transfer and transformation of values and beliefs within and between three generations in case study families living in Australia. Drawing on a cultural-historical framework (Vygotsky, 1987) and the work of neo-Vygotskians (Hedegaard, 2005; Moll & Greenberg, 1990) the study investigates factors that mediate and/or motivate family funds of intergenerational cultural understanding. Data for the study was generated through a multi-phased iterative process consisting of interviews, photographs and video footage. This article focuses on an incident where a three year old child uttered a word that was initially misunderstood by both the researcher and her mother. It was not until the child’s father intervened that the significance of the word “alive” began to emerge, linking the child with her grandfather through her father. Grappling with the Vygotskian concepts of shared meaning and generalisation within the child-rearing practices of this family, it appears that the genesis of thinking, speech and social interaction are dialectically interrelated. Making the familiar strange to understand cultural meaning better remains the challenge of both the present and future research.

Parents as Educators at Playcentre: Understanding the Constraints and Enablers of Teaching Practice

Suzanne Manning and Judith Loveridge
Victoria University of Wellington, NZ
NZRECE Journal, Vol. 12, 2009, pp. 57 - 70.

Key words:  Playcentre, funds of knowledge, teaching practice, curriculum

Abstract: This paper reports on a study which investigated four parents as educators’ use of their life experiences, skills and knowledge in their teaching practice in an urban Playcentre. This paper focuses on two themes that arose from the analysis. Firstly, the influence that the parents as educators’ changing sense of belonging to the group had on their teaching practice is discussed and how this suggests the need to build a temporal dimension into understanding teaching practice within a team. Secondly, findings are examined that suggest that a sociocultural approach to the discourse surrounding adults’ teaching practices could open up the possibilities of more culturally valued mature activities being undertaken within the centre setting, enabling educators to draw more fully on their own funds of knowledge.

The Hearing Status and Exposure to Noise of Early Childhood Centre Staff

Stuart J. McLaren and Philip J. Dickinson
Massey University, Wellington, NZ
NZRECE Journal, Vol. 12, 2009, pp. 71 - 80.

Key words: Noise exposure, noise induced hearing loss, hearing threshold levels

Abstract:A study investigated the sound exposure that children and teachers receive in childcare centres. During this study, requests for concurrent work to evaluate the hearing acuity of the teachers resulted in a small extra study. Personal sound exposures were measured on 73 teachers in early childhood education centres and compared to the prescribed levels for workers in the health and safety in employment legislation. Twenty eight teachers in part-time (sessional) centres and 45 teachers in all day centres were tested over one working day. One staff member of a sessional centre and five of those in all day centres received noise exposures well in excess of the 100% maximum daily sound exposure permitted in the workplace. Standard hearing tests were conducted on a small group of 20 teachers including young adults through to those nearing retirement. There was a noticeable increase in noise- induced hearing loss as age increased with significant loss evident in the older participants. The paper argues that if this study has transferability across this teaching population, then potential hearing loss from noise exposure is of concern for early childhood teachers.

Researching Children’s Musical Learning Experiences within a Learning Story Framework

Berenice Nyland and Jill Ferris
RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia
NZRECE Journal, Vol. 12, 2009, pp. 81 - 94.

Key words: Early childhood music, learning stories, affordances, cultural activity theory

Abstract: This paper reports on a research project undertaken as part of an on-going research interest in the musical experiences and competence of children in early childhood settings. This research draws on socio-cultural theory and the work of Carr (2001) in documenting children’s learning through Learning Stories. One aim of the research was to observe and record what music children were experiencing during the everyday program. Learning Stories as a tool of socio-cultural theory were used to document and analyse the children’s experiences. Three examples of learning stories are presented, including examples of incidental and planned experiences. The paper explores the use of cultural activity theory and affordances to elaborate and enrich the potential of these learning stories as an interpretive strategy to support the research method. Different types of music experiences are described and theorised.

Bicultural Meanings: What do Practitioners Say?

Chris Jenkin
AUT University, NZ
NZRECE Journal, Vol. 12, 2009, pp. 95 - 108.

Key words:Te Whāriki, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, Tiriti-based curriculum, biculturalism

Abstract:The New Zealand Government has an expectation that bicultural aspects of the early childhood curriculum, TeWhāriki (Ministry of Education, 1996), will be implemented. However, many educators report difficulties with this. This article reports on findings from three qualitative questions within a survey that explored practices and understandings of ‘biculturalism’. Specifically the questions asked about definitions of bicultural, perceptions of the ‘ideal’ early childhood education bicultural curriculum and invited respondents to provide additional comments. Findings showed most respondents agreed that TeTiriti o Waitangi/The Treaty of Waitangi, partnership, and te reo were integral to the bicultural curriculum. However, respondents also identified a number of tensions with which they had to contend: these included ‘tokenism’, expectation of Māori, and being confronted by Māori spiritual beliefs. It is concluded that early childhood teachers do have a vision of the bicultural curriculum and are committed to it, but can still struggle to implement it. They need to move beyond the theory of the bicultural curriculum, ritual and tokenism into discerning how to deliver (in other words the action of) the bicultural curriculum in an empowering context more broadly, rather than in small pockets of success. In this paper I use the more current terminology “Tiriti-based curriculum”, (unless referring to the wording of the questionnaire) rather than bicultural curriculum.

Planning, Undertaking and Disseminating Research in Early Childhood Settings: An Ethical Framework

Joy Cullen, Helen Hedges and Jane Bone
NZRECE Journal, Vol. 12, 2009, pp. 109 - 118.

Key words: Research ethics, ethical principles, relationships, young children, practitioner research

Abstract: This statement is intended to guide academic researchers, teachers, postgraduate students, managers, licensees and any other persons who may be involved, who plan to conduct or participate in research in early childhood settings. The framework is distinguished from professional codes of ethics for teachers which do not focus specifically on research or teachers as researchers. It identifies some questions, issues and dilemmas that may arise throughout the research process.

Building Positive Research Relationships with Young Children

Rosemary D. Richards
Massey University, NZ
NZRECE Journal, Vol. 12, 2009, pp. 119 - 130.

Key Words: Ethnography, art, children’s perspectives, researching with children

Abstract:My research investigated four young Australian children’s experiences of art in their homes, and as they moved from early childhood centres to schools. Each child had a digital camera with which s/he took photographs of art and wider experiences. Over approximately a one-year period, I regularly met with the children in their homes, preschool, and schools. The intense involvement in the children’s lives, and the use of digital photography through which meaning was shared and negotiated, constituted a visual ethnographic approach (Pink, 2001) and the children’s conversations, images and experiences generated narratives of experience (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000).  Building positive and dynamic research relationships with the children, their families, teachers and wider communities was vital throughout the research. This paper outlines the principles that guided my interactions with young research participants. These principles considered how perspectives on children, research and theory influenced research processes; how co-researcher’s roles are negotiated and dynamic; and how research relationships developed and changed over time and experience. The paper also considers the tensions that arose when working at the boundaries of one’s own beliefs and those of the research participants. 

Embedding Self, Others, Culture and Ethics in Intercultural Research

Karen Liang Guo
Unitec Institute of Technology, NZ
NZRECE Journal, Vol. 12, 2009, pp. 131 - 142.

Key Words: Research ethics, intercultural, relationships, reflection

Abstract: This paper highlights the tensions evident in maintaining ethical principles while simultaneously responding to interpersonal and cultural demands in an intercultural research setting. The tensions reflect the intersections of relationships between ethical principles and practice, between a researcher and her research participants, and between people in the same or different cultural communities. The intricacies of cultures encompass unpredictable expectations for many aspects of research, as shown in the sociological perspectives, which are at the very centre of deliberations in this paper. It is argued that ethics, interpersonal relationships and cultural considerations are representative of the complexity of considerations that researchers negotiate throughout the conduct of an intercultural study. Therefore, it is important that the positioning of ethical practices is considered as central to the wider research process.

Writing Research: Narrative, Bricolage and Everyday Spirituality

Jane Bone
Monash University, Melbourne
NZRECE Journal, Vol. 12, 2009, pp. 143 - 152.

Key words: Narrative, bricolage, spirituality

Abstract: Privileging writing provides an opportunity to explore different approaches to (re)presenting research. Writing research always involves decision making about what can be told, when, how and to whom. This account suggests that writing research as narrative may also involve reconceptualising oneself in new ways; it describes the process of becoming researcher, writer and bricoleur. These multiple ‘becomings’ present new and different possibilities. In this case they changed the story that would eventually be told and the way it was told. A personal experience of researching, writing, and forming bricolage is shared and deconstructed within the context of a specific research project about spirituality in different early childhood settings. Research about spirituality meant that at some point this elusive concept had to be (re)presented as the written word through the creation of fresh, and, in this case, ‘messy’ or layered text. In the research, writing was itself a means of discovery; a research method and means of analysis. Part of this process involved engaging with the poetic aspect of revealing lived experience. Qualitative case study research involved children, teachers and parents. In this account the voices of participants, researcher reflexivity and narrative approaches to writing research are celebrated. 


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