Current theoretical perspectives influencing kindergarten practitioners in Victoria, since the implementation of the EYLF

By Lauren Armstrong

Overview
         

Brief background of researcher Introduction to the study Underpinning theories of ECE An overview of the EYLF The research design Data analysis techniques Preliminary research findings Implications for practice Opportunities for further research Questions

Brief background of researcher
 Early

childhood field

 Diploma  Bachelor

of Children‟s Services
of Early Childhood Studies

 Honours

degree of Bachelor of Education
gained throughout field placements

 Experience  Room

Leader in Long Day Care and sessional crèche

Introduction to the study
Research question What are the current theoretical and pedagogical perspectives influencing kindergarten practitioners in Victoria, since the implementation of the EYLF (DEEWR, 2009)? In light of  Traditional developmental theories  Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP)  Sociocultural theories

Theory in ECE
Traditional developmental theories
Jean Piaget
The evolution of knowledge structures through experience
(Edwards, 2003).

Piaget‟s ages and stages of cognitive development NAEYC‟s Developmentally Appropriate Practice
Planning for the individual needs of children, based on their physical, social and emotional, cognitive, and language developmental domains. (Bredekamp & Copple, 1987; Copple &
Bredekamp, eds., 2009)

Sociocultural theories
Lev Vygotsky
“…the social and cultural context in which children were born served to define how they would develop and what they would learn” (Edwards, 2003, p. 12). Vygotsky‟s Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD)
Children‟s level of development can be defined by evaluating their current, assisted and future abilities
Potential ability Independent ability Assisted ability

The Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD), (as cited in Edwards, 2009, p. 15).

Sociocultural theories
Barbara Rogoff
“Children‟s development is „transformed‟ as they participate (through observation, social interaction and direct teaching) in activities with other people”
(Edwards, 2003, p. 6).

Wide debate
The relevance of two of the most predominant theories in early childhood education
(Bredekamp and Copple, 2009; Rogoff, 2003; Fleer, 1995; 2005; and Edwards; 2003; 2005; 2009, Aldwinckle, 2001).

Developmentally Appropriate Practice Some contend that it‟s perception of development is too rigid, while others suggest that it is broad and translatable to practice Piagetian theory Some argue that the universal norms focus upon the age and stage of individual children – regardless of social/cultural context Vygotskian theory Many see the influences of social and cultural contexts on learning, and acknowledge children‟s potential abilities and levels of development

A shift in theories
“Whilst the shift in emphasis from developmental to sociocultural theory has been liberating in a pedagogical sense, developmental theory has been „so foundational to the field of early childhood education that erasing it would seem to leave us in a mindless limbo in which everything is relative‟”
(Lubeck, 1996; as cited in Edwards, 2003, p. 259)

The EYLF
Elements of the Early Years Learning Framework, as cited in the EYLF (DEEWR, 2009, p. 10). Learning Outcomes Principles

Practices

The Learning Outcomes

The EYLF

Outcome 1: Children have a strong sense of identity Outcome 2: Children are connected with and contribute to their world Outcome 3: Children have a strong sense of wellbeing Outcome 4: Children are confident and involved learners Outcome 5: Children are effective communicators
(DEEWR, 2009, pp.19-44)

The EYLF

The Principles
Secure, respectful and reciprocal relationships

Partnerships with families
High expectations and equity Respect for diversity Ongoing learning and reflective practice

(DEEWR, 2009, p. 12-13)

The Practices

The EYLF

Holistic approaches Responsiveness to children Learning through play

Intentional teaching
Learning environment

Cultural competence
Continuity of learning and transitions

Assessment for learning
(DEEWR, 2009, p. 14-18)

The EYLF

The Theories
Developmental theories Socio-cultural theories Socio-behaviourist theories

Critical theories
Post-structuralist theories

(DEEWR, 2009, p. 11)

So what? Identified through the literatures
 Diverse

perspectives regarding the relevance of traditional developmental theories in ECE in theories and approaches in ECE

 Shift

 An

absence of research regarding:
- the current perspectives of practitioners, since the introduction of the EYLF

- how practitioners make sense of the underpinning theories of the EYLF

The research design
An interpretivist position Through the processes of interpreting social action, subjective meaning can be achieved (Bryman, 2012). A sociocultural perspective The examination and comparison of specific issues or phenomena in various sociocultural settings (Bryman, 2012). Qualitative research methodology “…acknowledges that human reality is socially and symbolically constructed, constantly changing in relation to other facts of social life” (O‟Toole & Beckett, 2012, p. 63).

The research design
Participant selection Kindergarten practitioners recruited through postgraduate programs in Education at Monash University, Clayton

Data Collection 1 hour semi-structured, audio-recorded interviews
31 open-ended questions were formulated using Rogoff‟s Three Lenses of Analysis (Rogoff, 2003) as a theoretical framework

The research design
Barbara Rogoff‟s three lenses of analysis (as adapted from Edwards, 2009, p. 18).
The service

The EYLF

The VEYLDF

Institutional
The participant Other practitioners Intrapersonal Interpersonal Children and families

Their context

Their beliefs

Other professionals

Common-sense analysis

Data analyses

Responses were interpreted to identify meaning
What are the current theoretical and pedagogical perspectives that influence kindergarten practitioners, since the implementation of the EYLF (DEEWR, 2009)? Rogoff’s Three Lenses of Analysis: Participant 6 Institutional Lens Question What is your professional opinion of the processes involved in the introduction of the EYLF to early childhood education in Australia? Response “…being, perhaps, in the private school sector (as opposed to the community sector) we missed a lot of information. And I don‟t know if that was based because it was sent somewhere else in our school and we never received it, or was it that we were missed in the loop? I don‟t know” (line 215-217) “…our staff attended a PD [Professional Development seminar] in Adelaide, we all panicked – because everyone else seemed to know what they were talking about and we didn‟t. And so that was that initial… that was in that first year of it being talked about and introduced” (line 217 219) “…a lot of it came from South Australia, I‟m thinking because a lot of the models that they already had in place there were very reflective of what is the Framework now. So all their staff… and they were very comfortable, and we were just were saying ‘oh my goodness, we don’t know what this is’” (line 219-221) “…the modules that they then put in place for Victoria weren‟t informative – could have been delivered better, I think. I don‟t know that everyone that delivered them actually knew what they were talking about. And I think it was a bit of a ‘feel your way’ for some of those Suggests that much of the content of the EYLF originated from the South Australian Framework Acknowledges the differences in composure between South Australian practitioners and the practitioners of the service Suggests a possible lack of understanding and preparation in the deliverance of the Victorian modules Reiterates the attendance of practitioners to the professional development seminar in Adelaide Confirms that this was the first information obtained about the EYLF Notes/Interpretations Implies that being connected to a large school system may have resulted in the information regarding the EYLF getting lost in translation

Conceptual analysis

Data analyses

Concepts were categorised within all responses
What are the current theoretical and pedagogical perspectives that influence kindergarten practitioners, since the implementation of the EYLF (DEEWR, 2009)? Rogoff’s Three Lenses of Analysis: Participant 6 Institutional Lens Question What is your professional opinion of the processes involved in the introduction of the EYLF to early childhood education in Australia? Response “…being, perhaps, in the private school sector (as opposed to the community sector) we missed a lot of information. And I don‟t know if that was based because it was sent somewhere else in our school and we never received it, or was it that we were missed in the loop? I don‟t know” (line 215-217) “…our staff attended a PD [Professional Development seminar] in Adelaide, we all panicked – because everyone else seemed to know what they were talking about and we didn‟t. And so that was that initial… that was in that first year of it being talked about and introduced” (line 217219) “…a lot of it came from South Australia, I‟m thinking because a lot of the models that they already had in place there were very reflective of what is the Framework now. So all their staff… and they were very comfortable, and we were just were saying ‘oh my goodness, we don’t know what this is’” (line 219-221) “…the modules that they then put in place for Victoria weren‟t informative – could have been delivered better, I think. I don‟t know that everyone that delivered them actually knew what they were talking about. And I think it was a bit of a ‘feel your way’ for some of those Suggests that much of the content of the EYLF originated from the South Australian Framework Acknowledges the differences in composure between South Australian practitioners and the practitioners of the service Suggests a possible limitation of understanding and preparation in the deliverance of the Victorian modules Reiterates the attendance of practitioners to the professional development seminar in Adelaide Confirms that this was the first information obtained about the EYLF Notes/Interpretations Implies that being connected to a large school system may have resulted in the information regarding the EYLF getting lost in translation

Data analyses
Thematic analysis
Concepts were grouped into common themes
What are the current theoretical and pedagogical perspectives that influence kindergarten practitioners, since the implementation of the EYLF (DEEWR, 2009)? Intrapersonal Lens Theme Participant 1 Participant 2 Participant 3 Participant 4 Participant 5 Participant 6 Major Themes Perceptions Sense of stress Transition Struggle of working A sense of being Implies that First time that Changes in documentation of confusion and confusion from the with Diploma-qualified overwhelmed changes in practitioners had (1), planning processes, Changes in traditional practitioners and their Having to comply with influential heard about the presentation of program documentation approaches to developmental new requirements theories are EYLF content, self-perception (1) „One right more perspective Similarities between the related to and the perception of „best approach‟ contemporary “„do what your teacher practices previously in experience in Shift from practice‟ and applicability The process of approaches says, but then come place and practices the field and developmental to individual service (1) incorporating Other and listen to me and I‟ll identified within the EYLF not directly practices & One right approach (1), developmental practitioners show you why we Changes occurred in selfrelated to the changes in discarding old approaches and more found this don‟t do it that way‟” perception as a practitioner EYLF the perception (1) and complying with contemporary transition (line 46-47) Changes of planning Admits that of “best new requirements with no approaches difficult “it‟s a double-edged processes and presentation maintaining practice” has predetermined approach (1) Still attempting sword” (line 45-46) of program content to the practices evolved Perceives that transition to apply “polar opposites” (line families and services of several links to change from traditional 51) Extreme Initial anxiety in frameworks Differences developmental theory (4) theorists differences between the attempting to develop an can be a between Attempting to incorporate Concern in the developmental understanding of the daunting developmental developmental theory (1) shift from perspective throughout EYLF process domains and the and refers to others in the developmental the Diploma and the with “one right way of outcomes field who do so (1) theory theories which doing things” (line 37) Struggling to understand Not promoting underpin current Sense of inquiry which Difficulty in the theories and apply theories developmental practice questions the theories design and to practice (3) domains Some kindergartens are behind practice underpinning Difficulty, anxiety, Struggle in utilising the elements Other practitioners may concepts of the confused, overwhelmed, understanding of developmental respond more effectively VEYLDF daunted (5) the significance theory in the EYLF to to a predetermined Extreme differences of theories and justify the applicability approach Suitability to between old and new the ability of of developmental practice approaches (1); similarities transforming theory (1); changes in theory theory into related to experience (1) practice

Findings
Demographics of participants Category Family context Female Married Children Education Completed VCE Diploma of Children‟s Services Higher Education Completed Bachelor degree in Education (BECS/BECE) Completed a Master of Education Experience in the field Experience as a qualified kindergarten Ranges from 6 months to 23 years Ranges from 1.5 years to 23 years 3 Information Participants 6 6 5 5 4 6

practitioner

Findings
Perceptions of influential theories to individual practice Theory Perception Sociocultural theory Preference to theory – links to university training Vygotsky‟s cultural-historical theory Preference to theory – links to university training Traditional developmental theory Emphasised in prior tertiary training Influential to practice Barbara Rogoff‟s sociocultural theory Urie Bronfenbrenner‟s Ecological Preference to theory – links to university theory training The Reggio Emilia approach Incorporated into practice Multiple theories Howard Gardner‟s Theory Bruner‟s theory Erik Erikson John Dewey Freud‟s theory Attachment theory Postmodernist theories Poststructuralist theories Holistic approach Utilises many theorists in practice Multiple Intelligences theory Supports the Reggio Emilia approach Emphasised in prior tertiary training Emphasised in prior tertiary training Taught in prior tertiary training Taught in prior tertiary training Currently influences practice Currently influences practice “… eclectic viewpoint of many” (6:20) Participants 5

4
4 3 2

2
2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1

Findings Significant themes
 Confusion

among practitioners and services

 Resistance
 Diverse

from the early childhood field

understandings of the new curriculum, traditional and contemporary theories levels of support and training in building effective partnerships with

 Various

 Difficulties

families

Transition and implementation of the new curriculum

Findings
“„Here you go, off you go‟” (line 167)

Theories, principles and practices of the EYLF
Understanding family perspectives and their interpretations of the EYLF “a steep learning curve for a lot of us”(6:110-111) Partnerships with families and family involvement

Changes in self-perception
“it‟s polar opposites of what we‟ve learned previously” (3:54-55)

Institutional

CONFUSION Intrapersonal Interpersonal

Translating new theories into practice
Accountability: stress, workload and responsibility

Traditional approaches of tertiary “this is just a phase; they‟ll go back to institutions, diploma Piaget” (1:188-190) students, preschool field officers and NQS assessors A “reluctance to change” perspectives and practices

Findings
Services and training facilities still attempting to apply or revert to traditional approaches
Traditionallytrained practitioners, and long-term in the field “A lot of older colleagues… they‟re having difficulty with the nonprescribed way of doing things” (3:37-39)

Institutional

“Piaget is God and anybody else is a threat” (3:33-34)
Struggling to let go of traditional approaches

RESISTANCE Intrapersonal Interpersonal

Struggling to incorporate and comply with “nonprescribed” approaches and new theories

Some families still value traditional approaches due to their similarities with formal schooling

So what? Implications for practice
Inconsistencies across the field due to:
 Diverse

interpretations of the new curriculum and its underpinning theories and practices of content and delivery within tertiary and university training imbalance in the provision of quality support, training and professional development within individual services

 Disparities

 An

What now?

Opportunities for further research
 Perceptions

of traditionally-trained practitioners in the field who have not participated in recent university training and pedagogical content and delivery at tertiary and university levels and quality of support and professional development across services at management and departmental levels

 Theoretical

 Availability

“Research is about uncovering and enabling the emergence of new understandings, insights and knowledge. The best research will always involve close, ongoing collaboration between those who plan the research, those who carry it out, those who participate in it, and those for whom the results have an impact”.
(Rolfe & Mac Naughton, in Mac Naughton, Rolfe & Siraj-Blatchford, 2010, pp. 3-4)

References
Ardwinckle, M. (2001). The DAP debate: Are we throwing the baby out with the bath water? Australian Journal of Early Childhood. 26 (2). pp. 36-39.

Bryman, A. (2012). Social research methods. (4th eds.). New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN: 978-0-19-958805-3
Clough, P. & Nutbrown, C. (2002). A student‟s guide to methodology. (2nd Ed.). Sage Publications Limited: London. ISBN: 9781446208625 Copple, C. & Bredekamp, S. (2009). Developmentally appropriate practice in early childhood programs: Serving children from birth through age 8. (3rd Ed.). Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children. ISBN: 978-1-928896-64-7 Cullen, J., Hedges, H. & Bone, J. (2009). Planning, undertaking an disseminating research in early childhood settings: An ethical framework. New Zealand Research in Early Childhood Education. 12. pp.109-118. ISSN: 1174-6122

References
Department of Education and Early Childhood Development and Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority. (2009). Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework: For all children from birth to eight years. East Melbourne, VIC: Early Childhood Strategy Division, Department of Education and Early Childhood Development and Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority. ISBN: 978-0-7594-0590-5 Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, (2009). Belonging, being and becoming: the early years learning framework for Australia. Barton, ACT: Commonwealth of Australia. ISBN: 978-0-642-77872-7 Edwards, S. (2009). Early childhood education and care: A sociocultural approach. Castle Hill, NSW: Pademelon Press. ISBN: 9781876138301 (pbk.) Google Images. Accessed 08/09/2013. Retrieved from: https://www.google.com.au/imghp?hl=en&tab=ii Mac Naughton, G., Rolfe, S. & Siraj-Blatchford, I. (2010). Doing early childhood research: International perspectives on theory and practice. (2nd Eds.). Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin. ISBN: 978-1-74237-069-9 Rogoff, B. (2003). The cultural nature of human development. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN: 978-0-19-513133-8

Questions