Early Childhood Educators' Perceptions of the use of documentation in emergent programs: issues, benefits, barriers and questions

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Harrietha, Lisa
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This study was developed to determine early childhood educator’s perceptions of the use pedagogical documentation in emergent curriculum programs. In this qualitative study, 16 educators were asked a series of questions regarding emergent programming, documentation use, and reflective practice. The questions were developed utilizing major themes found in a literature review and from questions developed from my own struggles and successes in using emergent processes. They were designed to discover how long educators were using the approach, what types of documentation was used, and their perceptions of the benefits and difficulties associated with the documentation process. Twelve of the participants answered questions via face-to-face interviews, while four completed an on-line survey. All data was coded and analysed for themes and major findings. The results showed that participants felt there was not enough time to complete documentation effectively, and that most were not formally trained in the approach. The majority of participants had questions about documentation. The documentation process was found to be a highly collaborative approach which could be used to enhance program planning, parent/teacher relationships, and children’s learning. The participants in this study did not view professional development as an important aspect of documentation. Findings were consisted with results from past research and literature except for those related to professional development. Results showed that although there are a number of benefits to using the documentation process in emergent curriculum programs, there are a number of barriers that may interfere with achieving those benefits. The need for formal training in college and university classes was evident from the data. It is also recommended that directors of child care centres support their staff in the documentation process by allowing for more paid time outside the classroom for programming and documentation, and ensuring that the centres’ have materials needed for documentation on hand. Directors should also be clear with their expectations as to how much activity should be documented. If educators receive further education in emergent curriculum practices and directors provide support and guidance to enhance the process, the use of pedagogical documentation might be strengthened, leading to an enhancement of early childhood programs.
Early Childhood Educators , pedagogical documentation , emergent curriculum