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The use of observations of child development for early childhood education

Solomon, Julia (1984) The use of observations of child development for early childhood education. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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The literature relating to the field of early childhood education reveals that problems exist when attempts are made to measure the outcome of children's experience in naturalistic learning environments. Where such learning environments are based on the organismic-developmental model, growth and learning are assumed to be developmental processes generated as a function of spontaneous child-environment interaction. Appropriate systematic measures of children's developmental progress in these environments are apparently unavailable.

A possible solution is predicated in the formulation of developmentally sequenced levels of qualitative change, linked with developmental components within levels, to form categories for an observation schedule. It is hypothesized that children's developmental progress can be systematically measured when this schedule is applied in naturalistic settings.

Spontaneous behaviour of forty children attending pre-school centres in their fifth year was observed and recorded on video tape in two phases over a period of 10 months. Coders were trained to code observed behaviour segments according to developmental criteria derived from Piagetian theory. Judgments were recorded in a matrix containing all categories of the developmental model.

Results revealed that, with the given criteria applied to children's spontaneous behaviour, the instrument could provide a reliable estimate of a child's developmental status and measure significant developmental progress in five year old children during a period of six to eight months.

The results suggest that the observation schedule can be applied as a developmental scale of growth in the mental structure of children in the first eight years. Its applications for the early childhood field are considered.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Marsh, Colin and McGaw, Barry
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