Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Master of Education

Program

Education

Supervisor(s)

Dr. Rosamund Stooke

Abstract

This thesis reports on a narrative case study in which I explored early childhood educators’ (ECEs) beliefs about print literacy and play pedagogies. The purpose of the study was to learn about the ECEs’ subjective views regarding how to support young children’s print literacy; the extent to which ECEs viewed play as a contributing factor in children’s print literacy development; and how ECEs appropriated their understandings of the relationship between play and print literacy. I conducted in-depth, qualitative interviews with six registered early childhood educators (RECEs) employed in privately funded childcare centres in Ontario, Canada. I asked: What can be learned about preschool educators’ funds of knowledge from stories of practice about print literacy pedagogies? What beliefs about the role of play in young children’s literacy are expressed in those stories? What obstacles to enacting play-based pedagogies are expressed? What do stories of practice reveal about the ways in which they value play? And lastly, what do stories reveal about the ways in which beliefs about play mediate planning of curricular experiences? Interviews were transcribed and data were analyzed in a two-stage process. First I identified key issues present in each participant’s stories of practice. I then triangulated the three data sources- interpretive stories, participants’ personal narratives, and my own reflective diaries- in order to further explore these issues using critical analysis. These issues came in the form of motifs or recurring ideas. The study found that ECEs mobilized their knowledge about play and print literacy development within routine practices. Perceived obstacles to play-based pedagogies included: (1) a desire to please students’ parents; (2) an obligation to prepare students for public school; and (3) pressures to conform to the institutional routines that governed individuals’ practices. This study contributed to my understandings of ECE practices. I hope the findings will promote critical dialogue among educators and other education stakeholders. Such a dialogue can lead to improvements in professional development programs and in ECEs’ pedagogical practices with print literacy and play.


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