The Data, Knowledge, Action research programme: Reflections on teachers’ use of authentic data-systems to understand and enhance children’s experiences of curriculum in New Zealand early childhood education settings.

Year: 2019

Author: McLachlan, Claire, McLaughlin, Tara, Cherrington, Sue, Aspden, Karyn, Hunt, Lynda

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In this paper, we describe our Data, Knowledge, Action research programme that is investigating the development and use of innovative and authentic data systems to help New Zealand ECE teachers examine young children’s curriculum experiences and strengthen their teaching practice. To date the programme comprises: a) a pilot study undertaken in 2017 to develop and pilot innovative and authentic data systems to investigate children’s experiences of curriculum: b) a current 18-month project funded by the New Zealand government’s Teacher Led Innovation Fund (TLIF) involving teacher-led inquiry into data-informed teaching in ECE; and c) a current Teaching and Learning Research Initiative (TLRI)-funded project exploring sustained shared thinking to deepen young children’s learning.

The research programme is a partnership among a multi-university research team and a local kindergarten association. The research has been guided by the premise that effective data can lead to knowledge which can lead to action for improved curriculum implementation (cf. Earl & Timperley, 2008; Gunmer & Mandinach, 2015).

In the pilot, multiple data systems and tools were developed to capture and analyse children’s experiences using live observation recorded on a tablet, video recordings from cameras affixed to children’s clothing, and a teacher-completed child profile to document children’s characteristics. Collected data were analysed with structured coding systems using observational software and entered into report templates that generated graphed data for teachers to review. Tools included reflection and discussion guides and video analysis protocols completed by teachers to gain deeper insights into specific children.

In the TLIF project, these data systems are being used to support teachers’ inquiries into questions of curriculum provision and children’s learning; in the TLRI project, the focus is on investigating the frequency and nature of sustained shared thinking episodes between teachers and children and with the use of the Sustained Shared Thinking and Emotional Wellbeing (SSTEW) scale (Siraj, Kingston & Melhuish, 2015) and the Language Environment Analysis (LENA) system as additional data system tools.

In this presentation we provide an overview of the Data, Knowledge, Action research programme, explain the data system tools developed and present examples from the TLIF and teachers’ insights and reflections on the use of the data. We discuss the feasibility of these data systems for use in ECE settings and highlight some of the successes and challenges emerging as we have implemented use of these data systems tools with teachers.