Uttering the unspoken: early childhood educators' conceptions of the impact of regulation of their profession

PhD Thesis


Turner, Michelle. 2017. Uttering the unspoken: early childhood educators' conceptions of the impact of regulation of their profession. PhD Thesis Doctor of Philosophy. University of Southern Queensland. https://doi.org/10.26192/5c074689baf87
Title

Uttering the unspoken: early childhood educators' conceptions of the impact of regulation of their profession

TypePhD Thesis
Authors
AuthorTurner, Michelle
SupervisorNoble, Karen
Henderson, Robyn
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Philosophy
Number of Pages318
Year2017
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.26192/5c074689baf87
Abstract

Early childhood education and care contexts have undergone change in light of growing regulatory reform and regimes of accountability. The introduction of the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care across Australia on 1 January 2012 was one such significant reform experienced by the early childhood sector. The introduction of the framework heralded broad changes for early childhood educators engaged in this field. A continuing problem that emerges in the face of regulatory alterations is the impact on educators and their profession. The interest of this project is the early childhood educators’ lived experience of the impact of regulatory change.

This research project utilises a phenomenographic approach, in an interpretivist paradigm, to investigate the qualitatively different ways early childhood educators understand regulation. The starting point for the study is not a hypothesis to be tested, but rather it is an inquiry to understand the early childhood educators’ own conceptions of the lived experience under mandated regimes. Given the current climate of government, mandated policy, this study is both relevant and timely.

Twenty-five early childhood educators participated in semi structured interviews. To enhance the data collection a methodological elaboration was designed. The participants were asked to create an arts-inspired plate prior to the interview, reflecting their lived experience of the impact of regulation. The arts-inspired plate was referred to throughout the interview.

The phenomenographic analysis led to the construction of five categories of description. The early childhood educators’ experiences of the impact of regulation were expressed as (1) enabling guardianship, (2) complicating administration, (3) interrupting core business, (4) being accountable and (5) scrutiny of performance. The five categories present the critically and qualitatively different ways of experiencing the impact of regulation that were identified among the collective group. The five categories were linked and differentiated from each other by two dimensions of variation: (1) a professional dimension and (2) a personal dimension. The dimensions of variation emerge as a representation wherein the conceptions within the categories of description can be further distinguished. The outcome space in this thesis portrays the qualitatively different ways early childhood educators experience the impact of regulation as a range of categories of description that represent an increasing awareness of aspects of the phenomenon.

The findings of the study suggest that, for the participants, the implementation of regulation was considered significant, rapid and overwhelming. These findings contribute to the ongoing discussion around regulatory regimes and the impact on educators, particularly in relation to the magnitude and timing associated with regulation implementation associated with the National Quality Framework.

Keywordsearly childhood education; early childhood educators; regulation; regulatory reform; accountability; National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care; regulation of service provision
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020390302. Early childhood education
Byline AffiliationsSchool of Teacher Education and Early Childhood
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