An Integrative Review of Transitions to School Literature (2000 – 2015)

Year: 2015

Author: Boyle, Tess, Grieshaber,, Petriwskyj, Anne

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The purpose of this review was to identify theoretical perspectives informing transitions to school literature between 2000 and 2015. An integrative literature review “critiques and synthesizes representative literature on a topic in an integrated way such that new frameworks and perspectives on the topic are generated”(Torraco, 2005, p. 356). To achieve this the authors used the term ‘transition to school’ to search the international early childhood education literature namely; books, book chapters, refereed journal articles and conference papers published between 2000 and 2015. Items that identified a theoretical perspective within the text of the publication were selected and collated, resulting in more than 300 items. The literature was grouped according to four major theory frames identified during the review process: developmental, ecological, socio-cultural and critical. The literature was then grouped according to these categories. Consistent with the aim of an integrative approach, the literature was further reviewed to identify key concepts of transitions within and across each theory frame. The concepts readiness, pedagogy, transitions activities, policy and power were synthesised and collated into tables to provide a succinct comparative overview of their application within each of the theory frames. A frequency count of the texts within each category revealed the emergence of ecological and sociocultural perspectives, yet developmental theoretical perspectives continue to influence transitions practices and policies. The review also revealed a small but growing body of literature informed by critical theory. The analysis shows that this emergent frame provides thought-provoking constructions of transitions and in doing so offers alternative perspectives to developmental theories.