A Case Study Of Pedagogical Documentation In A South Australian Early Childhood Centre

Author: Anita Ramchandran Menon

Menon, Anita Ramchandran, 2016 A Case Study Of Pedagogical Documentation In A South Australian Early Childhood Centre, Flinders University, School of Education

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This study examines the role of pedagogical documentation, one of the principles of the Reggio Emilia educational project in an Australian Early Childhood setting. The aim is to generate local understandings and examine how the theoretical concept is interpreted and put into practice in one site in South Australia. The study investigates the role of pedagogical documentation as an educational tool. The context of this phenomenological case study is a Reggio-inspired Early Learning Centre in Adelaide.

An Interpretivist theoretical perspective underlies the study design and this approach holds that knowledge can be gathered through peoples’ interpretations and understanding of their individual context. A purposeful sampling technique was applied in selecting the participants for this research study. When using purposeful sampling, individuals and the site for the study were selected as they have demonstrated a commitment to the principles of the Reggio Emilia educational project. Data collection methods include: direct observation which is recorded through field-notes, artefacts such as children’s portfolios and photographs of children’s work, individual semi-structured interviews with four educators and a focus group interview with the Director and staff of the Early Learning Centre. Thematic analysis was used to analyse data. Vignettes of children’s learning are utilised to juxtapose educators’ voices, photographs, observation data and the literature to discuss research findings.

The case study is presented using three themes that emerged from data analysis and literature review namely: pedagogical documentation as an educational tool, pedagogical documentation builds reflective practice and pedagogical documentation leads to professional development. The study findings confirm pedagogical documentation is used as a multi-faceted tool in Early Childhood Education, by educators for reflective practice and professional development. In this Australian context, pedagogical documentation makes children’s learning visible and gives a voice to children as co-constructors of knowledge.The rhizomatic characteristic of pedagogical documentation aptly describes the concept of pedagogical documentation as non-linear and following the interests of children. Pedagogical documentation is beneficial to parents as they can visualise children’s learning and then in collaboration with the educator take children’s learning to its next level. For policy makers, pedagogical documentation is a potential tool to assess children’s learning.

The study highlights the importance of reflective practice and illustrates some pedagogical practices used by educators in documenting children’s work, which contribute to this process. These practices include progettazione (flexible planning), ‘provocation’ during a project investigation, enacting a strong image of the child (and themselves as educators), intentional teaching, using digital technology and the co-construction of knowledge. In this Australian context, these pedagogical practices provide opportunities for the educators’ professional development.

This Australian study thus contributes to a better understanding of the key aspects of pedagogical documentation within a particular context. The research presented in the thesis provides deeper insights into how it can be used in Early Childhood Education to make children’s learning visible and shareable with the community. The study of pedagogical documentation has the potential to raise issues and encourage dialogue with all stakeholders: educators, parents and policymakers about young children’s learning.

Keywords: pedagogical documentation

Subject: Education thesis

Thesis type: Professional Doctorate
Completed: 2016
School: School of Education
Supervisor: Dr Susan Krieg