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The Young Learners’ Project Associate Professor Margaret Brown Dr Anna Bortoli Dr Linda J Byrnes.

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Presentation on theme: "The Young Learners’ Project Associate Professor Margaret Brown Dr Anna Bortoli Dr Linda J Byrnes."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Young Learners’ Project Associate Professor Margaret Brown Dr Anna Bortoli Dr Linda J Byrnes

2 Chief Investigators: Associate Professor Margaret Brown (Principal Investigator), Associate Professor Esther Care, Professor Bridie Raban, Professor Field Rickards, Mr Terry O’Connell (Australian Scholarships Group) Research team: Associate Professor Brown (Team leader), Ms Emelie Barringer, Dr Anna Bortoli, Mr Robert Brown, Dr Linda Byrnes, Associate Professor Care, Ms Esther Chan, Dr Amelia Church, Ms Jan Deans, Ms Lucy Jackson, Dr Anne-Marie Morrissey (now at Deakin University), Dr Andrea Nolan (now at Victoria University), Dr Louise Paatsch (now at Deakin University), Mr Derek Patton, Professor Raban, Dr Maria Remine, Dr Janet Scull, Ms Lena Tan, Ms Jessica Taylor and Dr Linda Watson (Birmingham University, UK) Funding Support: Australian Scholarship Group (ASG); Australian Research Council (ARC): Linkage Projects funding scheme (Project number LP ); Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne

3 Aims of the study To investigate child characteristics, family and pedagogical practices that support early literacy development in 4-year-old kindergarteners To identify how parents and teachers engage with and scaffold children’s early literacy development To document the emergence of early literacy To develop instruments to assist teachers to understand children’s early literacy capacities To identify pedagogical strategies for teacher education programmes

4 Variables Child variables: IQ, language, pretence ability, self concept, activity preferences (referential or expressive), knowledge of how they will learn, motivation/interest in learning, early literacy Family variables: Family literacy practices, knowledge of their child’s current level of skills, congruence and connectedness with their child’s programme Teacher variables: Theoretical underpinnings, teaching strategies for engagement and inclusion around literacy events, preparation of a learning environment to foster early literacy development, congruence and connectedness with the parents

5 What is self concept? Complex psychological construct that contributes to children’s acquisition of developmental milestones It is associated with academic performance e.g. reading is linked with the individual’s concept of their own ability (Hay et al., 1997)

6 Types of self concept Observed in many facets of a child’s life which have identified different types of self concept 1.General 2.Academic 3.Non-academic (social, physical, creativity and imagination)

7 Measuring self concept in the early years Preschoolers approaching 5 years of age are known to be aware of the abilities of others At 5 years of age children tend to use concrete terms to describe their abilities and see themselves as very able and competent – “I can run very fast” Teachers are more likely to closely observe what children say and do when executing particular skill sets

8 How reliable is it? There is a tendency for young children to overestimate their abilities which can often sometimes be viewed as egocentric This egocentricity can make the measurement of self concept in the preschool years unreliable

9 Purpose of the “I CAN” tool It was developed as a screening tool for kindergarten teachers to use It’s design is aimed to establish an understanding of a child’s perception of themselves Contents of the tool were developed from early childhood curriculum Focus is on the academic, physical and creative categories of self concept

10 “I CAN” tool Presented in a story format The story addresses skills across the domains of gross and fine motor, general self-care, pre-academic and pretend play There are 55 statements read to the child The child gives a response by pointing to one of three responses It is administered during Term 4 in the final year of preschool

11 I can run fast

12 I can kick a ball.

13  I am really good at thisI’m just OKI find it tricky to do this Child Response Sheet

14 Current Study Number of participants = 164 Girls = 83 Boys = 81 All participants were in their final year of kindergarten and the story was individually read to them during Term 4

15 Participant’s self concept As a group their self concept was high for all domains Pre-academic = 2.69 Gross motor = 2.63 Fine motor = 2.59 Play = 2.51 Self care = 2.47 Girls were more confident in the domain of play (t= 2.50, p=.018) than were the boys There was no statistically significant difference between the boys and the girls in the domains of gross motor, fine-motor, self care and pre-academic

16 Gender and self concept in specific skills Of the individual items, four showed a significant difference between the boys and girls. Girls were more likely to report being confident about “hopping on one foot” (χ²=6.733, df=2, p=.035); “threading big beads” (χ²=10.294, df=2, p=.006) and “pretending to be a monster or fairy” (χ²=11.876, df=2, p=.003). Boys were more likely to report being confident about “catching a ball” (χ²=6.034, df=2, p=.043).

17 Children’s interests Children’s interests are important to take account of because they: - affect the quality of children’s attention and memory (Renninger & Wozniak, 1985) - influence who they play with (Renninger & Wozniak, 1985) increase the flexibility of children’s interactions with objects (Renninger, 1992) Interests can be described as personalised, situational/transient, or general/non-specific

18 Previous research has focused on children who have highly specific interests in conceptual categories (e.g. children who collect dinosaurs) Data have been typically gathered from parent/other caregiver report and from direct observations Little is known about children who have specific interests that are not conceptual (e.g. artistic) Little is known about what the children themselves nominate as their interests

19 The study - participants 111 boys and 124 girls Attending 10 preschools in metropolitan and suburban Melbourne As part of a child interview, children were asked to nominate their ‘very favourite’ thing to do at home and then to nominate the ‘next favourite’, then the ‘next favourite’, giving us three activities The same procedure was then followed to elicit information about their interests at preschool Responses were initially coded according to 13 categories (literacy, pretence, social, art, physical, play (general), construction, music, technology, TV, procedural, conceptual)

20 Results – home interests From the 13 categories, children were coded as having either a dominant interest or having more balanced interests 23% of children had dominant and 77% had balanced interests The 13 categories were then collapsed into six: -people (social), ideas (pretend, art, music, conceptual), materials (construction), routines/procedures, skills (literacy, technology, physical), and non-specific play Overall, at home children reported that they were interested in activities that fostered skills (30%) and ideas (24%) There were no significant differences between children who had dominant or balanced interests at home

21 Results – preschool interests Similarly children’s responses were coded as having either a dominant interest or having more balanced interests at preschool 37% of children had dominant and 63% had balanced interests The 13 categories were then re-coded into the six categories of people, ideas, materials, routines/procedures, skills, non-specific Overall, at preschool, children reported that they were interested in ideas (30%) and skills (22%) Significant differences between dominant and balanced interest categories at preschool emerged with a significantly greater proportion of children with balanced interests nominating ideas and skills

22 Gender – home interests For home interests there was no significant difference between boys and girls in terms of dominant or balanced interests However, girls were significantly more likely to nominate interests in people, ideas and routines than were boys, whereas boys were more likely to nominate materials and skills

23 Gender – preschool interests Again no significant difference was found between boys and girls for dominant or balanced interests However, girls were statistically significantly more likely to nominate interests in ideas than boys, whereas boys nominated materials A small but significant correlation was found between home and preschool interests (Rho =.16, p <.05), accounting for 25% of the variance

24 Children’s interests and self-concept

25 Summary Interests at home and preschool are similar for about 25% of the children in this sample and they centre around the acquisition of skills and ideas About a quarter to a third of the children reported a dominant interest and these interests were spread across the categories Dominant interests were reported for both boys and girls Girls and boys differed significantly in their interests with girls favouring ideas, people and routines and boys nominating materials and skills Analysis of the self-concept and interests data suggest that children who display interests in terms of ideas, routines and people are more likely to have good self- concept around pretend play, whereas children who are more interested in the acquisition of skills or who do not specify particular interests have lower self-concept about pretence

26 Research has shown positive literacy outcomes for children when their parents read to them (Weinberger, 1996), have positive beliefs and values about literacy (Weigel, Martin & Bennett, 2006), and share literacy activities with them (Wood, 2002). The research evidence typically comes from parent reports and formal and informal assessments of children.

27 Another source of data comes from the children themselves. In this part of the study we asked four-year-olds about their attitudes and motivation about literacy and their understanding of the process of literacy learning.

28 The ORIENT was designed particularly for this research to explore four-year- old children’s views of literacy There are five sections in the ORIENT Section 1: Interview (interests) Section2: Activity (array of literacy materials: enjoyment & preference) Section 3: Interview (reading: interest, motivation, confidence, independence, knowledge) Section 4: Interview (writing: interest, motivation, confidence, independence, knowledge) Section 5: Interview (enjoyment and independence)

29 Children’s level of enjoyment of an array of literacy materials 14% of children enjoy looking at up to 4 materials 44% of children enjoy looking at between 5-8 materials 42% of children enjoy looking at between 9-12 materials Do children have a preference for a particular type (Trad, NT, En) of literacy material? Many do! 35% are balanced and chose one from all three groups 65% have a decided preference and choose two or three from one group Of the group with a decided preference: 67% - Traditional 17% - Environmental 16% - New Technology

30 Children’s attitude (interest, motivation) towards becoming literate 91% like looking at books 94% think it is a good idea to learn to read 91% are looking forward to learning to read

31 Children’s level of confidence as literacy learners Confidence … 60% consider it will be (was) easy to learn to read There is an association between considering it will be easy to learn to read and Gender (χ²=4.519, df=1, p=.034) Like looking at books (χ²=7.545, df=1, p=.006) Looking forward to being able to read (χ²=12.523, df=1, p=.000) Will be good at reading (χ²=26.545, df=1, p=.000) 90% consider they will be (are) good at reading There is an association between considering you will be good at reading and: Gender (χ²=14.036, df=1, p=.000) Do something special (χ²=3.797, df=1, p=.05)

32 Children’s level of independence as literacy learners In reading … 59% like looking at books with someone else 29% like looking at books by themself 12% like looking at books by themselves and/or someone else In choosing …. 92% like to choose the books they look at As a learner … 55% consider they have to do something special to help themselves learn to read There is an association between considering you will have to do something special to help themselves learn to read and looking forward to being able to read (χ²=4.08, df=1, p=.043)

33 Is there a relationship between children’s self-concept and literacy? Easy to learn to read? Who do you like to read with? Do anything special?

34 Is there a relationship between children’s interests and literacy? No significant, but some interesting findings …

35 Is it going to be easy for your to learn to read? At home … At preschool …

36 Who do you like to read/look at books with? At home … At preschool …

37 Will you have to do anything special to help yourself learn to read? At home … At preschool …

38 © Copyright The University of Melbourne 2006


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