Working with toddlers in Child Care: Personal epistemologies and practice

Brownlee, Joanne M., Berthelsen, Donna C., & Boulton-Lewis, Gillian M. (2004) Working with toddlers in Child Care: Personal epistemologies and practice. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 12(1), pp. 55-70.


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In the present study, the personal epistemological beliefs of group leaders in toddler child care programs are investigated. Epistemological beliefs are beliefs about knowing and learning. It is considered that the quality of these beliefs is influenced by educational experiences. In this study, such beliefs are assumed to be mediating factors in the nature and quality of child care practice. Six caregivers in toddler programs (children aged 18 months to 3 years) in Australia were videoed within their programs and subsequently asked to describe their personal epistemological beliefs as well as their beliefs about how children learn. In the interviews, excerpts from the video were presented and the caregivers asked to reflect on their practices. The interview data for each caregiver were analysed to ascertain the nature of the personal epistemological beliefs and the nature of beliefs about children’s learning. The manner in which caregivers’ reflective responses about their practices observed in the video aligned with caregivers’ personal epistemologies and their beliefs about children’s learning was also considered. Two caregivers, who held relativistic beliefs, also held strong constructivist perspectives about children’s learning that aligned with how they reflected on their practices. The other caregivers evidenced mixed or multiplistic epistemological beliefs. They described learning by children as an active or modelling process. These caregivers’ reflections on practice were congruent with their personal epistemologies and beliefs about children’s learning in viewing their educative role as a guide or a model for the children. Implications for how the exploration of personal epistemologies about knowing and learning can inform and enhance professional development programs are discussed.

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ID Code: 1195
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Epistemological beliefs, Child care, Infant programmemes, Relational pedagogy
DOI: 10.1080/13502930485209311
ISSN: 1350-293X
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > EDUCATION SYSTEMS (130100) > Early Childhood Education (excl. Maori) (130102)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2004 Taylor & Francis
Copyright Statement: First published in European Early Childhood Education Research Journal 12(1):pp. 55-70.
Deposited On: 05 May 2005 00:00
Last Modified: 20 Mar 2013 01:03

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