Infant and peer relationships in curriculum
Redder, B. M. (2014). Infant and peer relationships in curriculum (Thesis, Master of Education (MEd)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/9285
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/9285
The purpose of this thesis was to explore the relations between infants and their peers as they interacted intersubjectively with one another in an early childhood care and education environment and to investigate how the teacher was answerable through her engagement in these intersubjective events. Drawing upon a Bakhtinian methodological approach to research utterance was employed as my unit of analysis, providing a means to investigate the intersubjective interactions between infants and their peers in tandem with the teachers’ engagement in these interactions as answerable acts. This thesis builds on a previous pilot study which utilised dialogic methodology to investigate the nature of infant and teacher dialogue in an education and care context (White, Peter & Redder, 2015). The research that formed the basis for my subsequent analysis took place in a New Zealand education and care centre that catered for children less than two years of age. In the present study the same polyphonic video recording was used to capture infant and peer intersubjective interactions and the teacher’s engagement within these events. A mixed methods research approach was employed to qualitatively and quantitatively analyse the video data. The findings of this study suggest that infants are intersubjective agents in their relationships with peers and with teachers. Infants intentionally communicated with peers in lived relational experiences that were characterised by the fleeting, elongated or connected nature of their interactions. Mutual understanding, joint attention, attunement and the employment of synchronised language forms were features of infant ― peer intersubjective experiences. In addition, the findings revealed the capacity of infants and peers to relate with one another in social interactions that promote ‘dialogic spaces’ through which intersubjective relationships are sought. When teachers engaged in the infant ― peer intersubjective relations they either restrained by ‘shutting’ down or sustained by ‘opening up’ the intersubjective experience for the peers. The teacher’s body language was a feature of their engagement that contributed in a variety of ways to the infant ― peer intersubjective experience. Indeed how teachers engaged themselves in the interactions that were taking place between infants and their peers often determined the orientation of the teacher’s body positioning. The findings suggest when teachers restrained infant ― peer intersubjective dialogue, this form of engagement had the potential to alter how infants related to peers in subsequent interactions, highlighting the importance of sensitive, ‘in tune’ teacher engagement. Furthermore, the results highlight the pivotal role of the teacher as a ‘connecting’ feature within infant and peer intersubjective experiences, one who has the potential to ‘open up’ dialogic spaces for infants and their peer partners through engagement that is dialogic. These findings taken together may have implications for policymakers, educators and teacher education by ‘opening up’ dialogic spaces through which infants are seen as intersubjective agents and dialogic partners.
University of Waikato
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- Masters Degree Theses