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Title: "It's like we are getting involved with their world" : an exploration of the environment that supports active learning with two to three year olds
Author: Nicholls, Hannah
ISNI:       0000 0004 5919 4356
Awarding Body: Newcastle University
Current Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Date of Award: 2015
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Active learning opportunities are linked to characteristics of effective learning and enable progress and longer term outcomes. I conducted a quantitative systematic literature review asking the question, ‘What key characteristics of the early years learning environment are effective in advancing active learning?’ The studies acknowledged the importance of considering the environment provided for young children. The themes identified as contributory elements of effective learning environments were grouped and named as: ‘configuration of children’, ‘physical environment,’ and ‘pedagogical approach’. I concluded that current knowledge is diverse and contradictory with gaps in need of further exploration, particularly for the under three population. The reviewed research focused on structured observations; individual views were not sufficiently represented. Consideration of the practitioner experiences in the construction of appropriate environments was needed, in order to provide a comprehensive overview with a focus on developmentally appropriate practice for discrete age groups. Informed by gaps highlighted in the literature review, as well as the government directive to increase free nursery places for two year olds, my empirical research aim was to gain practitioner perception to generate a theory about effective learning environments for two to three year olds. Five early years professionals were asked questions, informed by Personal Construct Psychology theory, to discover their perceptions. Semi-structured interviews took place (with photograph elicitation in four out of five interviews). Data were analysed using a Grounded Theory approach, creating four thematic categories of ‘responding in context’, ‘joining up thinking’, ‘perceiving the child’s world’, and ‘facilitating child participation’. The practitioners’ theory suggested that creating effective learning environments for two to three year olds involves a prerequisite of supporting emotional needs, along with perceiving the child’s world via a reflective process of responding in context and joining up thinking. The following theory was created: The Toddler Telescope – perceiving the world of a two to three year old. The practitioners’ theory has the potential to act as a guiding frame supporting practitioner metacognition when considering how to advance active learning opportunities.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.App.Ed.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available