Teacher decision making in early childhood education

Kilderry, Anna Dorothea (2012) Teacher decision making in early childhood education. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


The study investigated early childhood teacher decision making at the preschool level in the state of Victoria, Australia. Victorian teachers at the preschool level were in an interesting position in 2004. Unlike most other Australian states Victoria did not have a curriculum framework guiding educational content and pedagogy.

Consequently, this study was able to take advantage of this situation and examine teacher decision making at a time when early childhood teachers were relatively autonomous in deciding curriculum content. The opportunity to study teacher decision making in this way has since passed, as Victorian preschool teachers are now regulated by newly introduced state and national curricula frameworks.

To identify influences affecting teacher decision making three preschool teachers were interviewed and curricula related policies were analysed. The data were analysed using Fairclough’s critical discourse analysis (CDA) technique.

Critical discourse analysis enabled a close analysis of influences on teacher decision making illustrating how discourse is legitimated, marginalised, and silenced in certain curricula practices. Critical theory was the underpinning framework used for the study and enabled taken-for-granted understandings to be uncovered within early childhood policies and teacher interviews.

Key findings were that despite there not being a government-mandated curricula framework for Victorian preschool education in 2004, teachers were held accountable for their curricula practice. Yet as professionals, early childhood teachers were denied public acknowledgment of their expertise as they were almost invisible in policy. Subsequently, teachers’ authority as professionals with curricula knowledge was diminished. The study found that developmentally appropriate practice (DAP) was a dominant discourse influencing teacher decision making (TDM). It operated as legitimated discourse in the 2004 Victorian preschool context. Additionally, the study found that teacher directed practice was legitimated, marginalised, and silenced by teachers. The findings have implications for early childhood teacher decision making at the practice, research, and policy levels.

Findings show that the dominance of the DAP discourse informing teacher decision making limits other ways of thinking and practising.

Impact and interest:

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

5,834 since deposited on 17 Aug 2012
929 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 53196
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Grieshaber, Susan & Danby, Susan
Keywords: teacher decision making, early childhood curriculum, policy, accountability, preschool education, critical theory, critical discourse analysis (CDA)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Office of Education Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 17 Aug 2012 05:29
Last Modified: 10 Sep 2015 02:04

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page