Evaluation or Early Childhood Education is a multifaceted and complex science and art.Who would be a better judge on the quality of Early Education than the children themselves? Our data suggests that children’s evaluations are a valuable part of the multi-method quality evaluation of early education. Results can be used to develop practices by paying attention to children´s participation and positive aspects that children mention about Early Education. See the new article in Journal of Early Childhood Education and Research.
In Finland, we have been doing research on Early Education for long. Our comprehensive and deep results expose the hidden processes of inequality. The leading Finnish newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat, had these research results as main news in 2 August 2019. Early Education can make headlines. This is important, because the processes of inequality are often unconscious and the best way for more equal future is to become aware of the small, but repeating obstacles of equality. The best way to enhance equality is to get a hold of the processes of inequality as early as possible. Read the article.
Finnish Education Evaluation Center organized a meeting for the content producers of evaluation 17 June 2019. The goal of the meeting was to enhance the information exchange on the national level, increase national cooperation, decrease overlaping data collection and add perspectives, openness and effectiveness. Jyrki Reunamo presented Progressive Feedback, which has deep, fresh and comprehensive early education evaluation system running in Finland, comprising of more than half of the Finnish Early Education. You can see the presentation at https://karvi.fi/app/uploads/2019/06/Jyrki-Reunamo.pdf.
To check criterion-validity we will compare the Finnish PF-observation and American CLASS-observation. Both observations will be conducted in the same groups. Yasmin Fong from the Education University of Hong Kong visited Finland to train four observers. Now we have four observers licenced to do CLASS-observations in Finland. It will be interesting to compare the Finnish PF with the American Class. Furthermore, it will be even more interesting to compare Finnish and Hong Kong Early Education based on the two observation methods. Yasmin will train Hong Kong observers to use also PF in Hong Kong. The picture is from CLASS training with Roosa-Maria Laaksonen, Mari Sillman, Yasmin Fong, Jenny Hietanen and Jouni Veijalainen.
Professor James Ko from the Education University of Hong Kong is visiting Finland. We will test children’s self-management and pre-academic skills both in Finland and Hong Kong. Then we will observe children’s activities and teachers’ activities. in the follow-up study we will test the children again, seeking to find out what kind of learning environment and teaching style is best for children’s learning. This will help teachers, policymakers and parents understand how effective teaching in two contrastive contexts longitudinally affects children’s learning and their influences at multiple levels of surrounding contexts (classroom, school, education system). We will:
1. Examine the relationships between effective teaching and childhood development:
a) Whether children can learn more from teachers who show more positive teacher-student interactions;
b) Whether child-led, play-based teaching and teacher-led, academically-focused teaching approach have different impacts;
c) Whether a dominant type of teaching approach results in different learning outcomes;
2. To examine a) whether the above relationships change or strengthen over time (following up across three school years) and b) whether there are individual differences.
In the picture, you can see James presenting the pre-academic test. In our project we have already found several key indicators for a deep zone of proximal development. This is the first time we study the longitudinal effect of that zone!
Jouni Veijalainen has been studying children’s emotional expressions in a stressful situation. The children were asked: Think that you fail, what do you do? Jouni studied how children’s descriptions were related to teachers’ evaluations of children’s self-regulation skills. Self-regulation skills have an important role in guiding children with their use and narration of suitable coping strategies on overcoming the frustration effectively. The concrete strategies allow teachers to work concretely with children in enhancing their SR skills and coping strategies further. In the table you see the relation between children’s descriptions and teachers evaluations. These two measures were independent, which increase the criterion validity of the results. The study has been accepted for publication: Veijalainen, J., Reunamo, J., Sajaniemi, N. & Suhonen, E. (In print.) Children’s self-regulation and coping strategies in a frustrated context in early education. South African Journal of Childhood Education.
An article by Jouni Veijalainen, Jyrki Reunamo and Minna Heikkilä (Early gender differences in emotional expressions and self-regulation in settings of early childhood education and care) has been accepted for publication in the journal Early Child Development and Care. The article is based on the Progressive feedback data. According to the results, boys practice their self-regulation skills in a different context than girls. Perhaps boys practice their SR skills with a higher intensity of emotions than girls. This may lead to a situation in which boys more easily get into trouble in a school with rules and a low tolerance for disturbance. If boys and girls have different criteria for SR skills in kindergarten, their ability to prohibit their emotions later are different. Is the school ready for both girls’ and boys’ different criteria for SR skills?
In Finland, in Nummenkylä and Siimapuisto day-care centres, we have piloted progressive feedback, in which it is possible to give timely feedback for the educators and principals to understand, follow and steer the development processes in real-time in the school. In the pilot system, each educator is trained as an observer and each observer observes a random group once a month. This practice gives the keys for educational development to the educators and principals, with the possibility to share the results with parents and children for deepr cooperation.
At Lego Foundation, we have been writing a white paper about Play facilitation: the science behind the art of engaging young children. The writers are Hanne Jensen, Angela Pyle, Jennifer M. Zosh, Hasina B. Ebrahim, Alejandra Zaragoza Scherman, Jyrki Reunamo and Bridget K. Hamre. Play is important in developing skills, learning, solving problems, in relationships, health and societal development. However, not all play is beneficial. Play facilitates learning when it is joyful, meaningful, actively engaging, iterative and socially interactive. In the paper, it is considered important that play is integrated to all activity, including instruction. The paper includes a lot of research results based on our project. Thank you for everyone for their contribution. The paper is disseminated world-wide by Lego and it is launched officially 27 February 2019 in South Africa.
Virpi Katajarinne has written a rather unique graduate thesis. In her thesis, Virpi studies, for example, how 1-3-year-old children’s physical activity varies in different activities. This helps early educators to focus on important activities. It is also interesting to see how children’s emphasis on physical activity changes gradually from non-social subljects to a peer related activity and later on group-related physical activity (enlarge the table on the left by clicking it). It is also interesting to see how physical activity seems not to be connected with learning than with older children, perhaps Laevers’ involvement scale does not find the motor learning taking place with younger children? Virpi has written her thesis in English, which is rare in our department. Use this rare opportunity and read Virpi’s thesis yourself here!