Observing, understanding and developing learning dispositions in an early years centre.
Cardiff Metroplitan University
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This longitudinal study investigated young children's learning within an early years education and care environment. The qualitative research design adopted an action research approach. The research methodology included; parent and staff semistructured and structured interviews, staff questionnaires, child observations and interviews. A key term in the research was that of learning dispositions to describe children's attitudes, actions and approaches to learning The study paid particular attention to children's voice, to professional debate and the learning environment and to how these support the development of reflective practitioners and reflexive practice. This research aimed to link learning theory and child development with early years practice in a naturalistic setting. As a professional doctorate it linked research project design and implementation with pedagogic planning and practice over a three year period. The researcher played a pivotal role as the manager of the study setting. During the research an observational framework, the child learning disposition' observation tool (CLDOT), was developed. This was used to complete a series of child learning disposition observations (CLDOs). These observations identified children's learning dispositions and whether they adapted them to the different learning environments of inside or outside, adult-led or child-led activities. These observations then became part of the learning disposition activity (LDA) cycle. The LDA cycle gave staff a practical and objective process through which they could: think about children's learning and use this in the planning process; observe the children's leaming comparing planning to practice; and deepen the reflections of practitioners and involve children in the process. The LDA instigated improvements to pedagogy and provided all involved in the research with a shared vocabulary and understanding of learning in the early years. As such, the study makes a contribution to the education debate about what is the right start for our youngest children at this most precious time: their early years.
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