Author Identifiers

ORCID: 0000-0001-7082-3473

Date of Award

6-6-2019

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Education

School

School of Education

First Advisor

Lennie Barblett

Second Advisor

Pauline Roberts

Field of Research Code

130202

Abstract

The research study investigated why and how educators make use of knowledge about children and their interests for the purpose of curriculum decision-making, and the subsequent influence on children’s involvement. The study took a Participatory Action Research approach and examined curriculum construction in childcare-based and school-based Kindergarten settings. Data were collected over a six-month period in 2018 from settings in the metropolitan area of Perth, Western Australia. Initial interviews were conducted with four Kindergarten educators to find out how they gathered and used information about children and their interests for curriculum purposes. These interviews were followed by a curriculum intervention that took place in one of the settings. Prior to the intervention, four children were selected to be in a focus group. The children’s pre-intervention involvement levels were measured using the Involvement Scale (South Australian Department of Education and Children’s Services, 2008) and through the analysis of video observations taken of the children during everyday classroom experiences. Then, two curriculum intervention activities were implemented with the children in the focus group in order to obtain information about their funds of knowledge and funds of identity. The Shoebox Activity required the children to place personally meaningful items inside of a shoebox and share these items with their teacher. The Photovoice Activity was where children took photographs of experiences in which they participated outside of Kindergarten and shared these photographs with their teacher. Following the curriculum intervention activities, the Kindergarten curriculum was constructed using children’s funds of knowledge and funds of identity. Children’s involvement levels were again measured for the post-intervention ratings, which occurred during the period of time when the adjusted curriculum experiences were offered. Results from the study indicate that children’s level of involvement significantly increases when educators know more about and prioritise children’s knowledge and identity in the curriculum. The study provides an Australian perspective in the areas of research focusing on children’s interests, curriculum construction, and children’s right to participation. This research study can be used to inform policy and build on early childhood educator practices to promote the provision of high-quality curriculum experiences for young children.

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