Infant Educators’ Reported Conceptions of, and Approaches to, Infant Language Development: How do They Relate to Educator Qualification Level?

Abstract

This study examined infant educators’ conceptions of infant language development and approaches to supporting the development. The phenomenographic analyses of interviews with 59 educators identified five and six hierarchically related conceptions and approaches respectively. The conceptions were broadly distinguished as deep or surface conceptions; and the approaches were categorized as infant-centred or infant-peripheral approaches. Positive relation was found between the deep conceptions and the infant-centred approaches on the one hand, and positive association was observed between the surface conceptions and the infant-peripheral approaches on the other hand. The conceptions and approaches were also related to the educators’ level of qualification. Bachelor-qualified educators tended to hold deep conceptions and to report using infant-centred approaches; whereas non-bachelor-qualified educators were more likely to have surface conceptions and to report infant-peripheral approaches. Our findings highlight the importance of the presence of well-qualified educators in supporting language development of very young children in the infant early childhood education and care programs.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    In this manuscript, in keeping with the professional and policy terminology used in Australia the term ‘educator’ is used to refer to an early childhood worker with direct responsibilities for the provision of education and care with children birth to school age.

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank the educators for their willingness to participate in this research. We also thank the team of research assistants for their excellent work and dedication to the project.

Funding

This study was funded by the Australia Research Council [DP140101238].

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Correspondence to Feifei Han.

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Han, F., Degotardi, S. Infant Educators’ Reported Conceptions of, and Approaches to, Infant Language Development: How do They Relate to Educator Qualification Level?. Early Childhood Educ J (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10643-020-01070-4

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Keywords

  • Educators’ conceptions and approaches
  • Infant language development
  • Educators’ qualification
  • Phenomenography
  • Early childhood education and care