With reference to a piece of recent research, discuss the role of research in early years practice and education

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Justine Ellis        Early Years Foundation Degree        CI1106                

Early Years Foundation Degree


The Reflective Practitioner


With reference to a piece of recent research, discuss the role of research in early years practice and education.

David Fann

Preston College

Education is constantly being reviewed in order to ascertain that our children are receiving the best possible education. Research plays an important part in this process, as the paradigms give a platform on which to adapt existing teaching methods, or alternatively, to construct new ones.

        ‘Education opens minds; educational research should be open

         to new developments’

                                                        (Cohen, L, 2003, p 381)

This work concentrates on the various types of research methods and aims to discuss its role within early years practice and education. If a theory is formulated too prematurely, before any empirical explorations have been carried out, this can lead to a slowing down in progression. Therefore, within education, research is of paramount significance. It can help us to understand the chaos of nature. Educational research is integrative and the data gathered may be used as a basis for inference interpretation. When conducting any form of investigative research the social benefits must be considered against the likely costs to the individual. Several parameters in planning research must also be deliberated. The target groups must be chosen carefully and the research should be controlled and systematic. Consent must be obtained in order to perform the research. Diener and Crandall believe this consent comes in various named stages. These are competence, voluntarism, full informative and comprehension. In the case of research in early years practice and education, researchers consult and seek permission from responsible adults and then, if necessary, the permission of the children themselves may be sought (Cited in Cohen, 2003).

Paradigms consist of a specific compilation of attitudes and values about knowledge and about our affiliation with the knowledge, together with actions based upon those beliefs. Each paradigm consists of three components; credence about the make-up of knowledge, a methodology and the ability to ascertain validity of knowledge (Mac Naughton G, 2005). Paradigms are the manner in which the theory is viewed and as such different paradigms give us different ways of framing the world as we look at it. Four major types of paradigms are; positivism, interpretism, structuralism and poststructuralism. Each of these affects the way in which researchers view the investigation and the resulting conclusions. Positivists believe that the world is made up of constantly changing happenings, built on a foundation of stability governed by laws. They are of the opinion that basic truths within the social world can be revealed by applying scientific methods (Giddens, 2001). Interpretivists believe that the social world is within us waiting to be interpreted and they aim to make sense of circumstances and behaviours through research. Structuralists view the world as a compilation of relationships governed by law. A structuralist would argue that the world is not made up of systems, but that the world is those systems. Poststructuralists focus on individuals and the ways in which they constantly change. The researcher within this paradigm aims to explain this instability without making an effort to alter it (ibid, Mac Naughton).  Most research within education is positivist in that there are laws and guidelines providing a foundation for learning, which are affected by the constantly changing methods of teaching.

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The government is currently reviewing the national literacy strategy. Jim Rose brought out an interim report in December 2005 with a remit to review the teaching and learning of phonic work in early years settings and primary schools (Rose, 2005). In light of the forthcoming full report, The Department for Education and Skills commissioned the Universities of York and Sheffield to conduct a review on the use of phonics, ‘A Systematic Review of the Research Literature on the Use of Phonics in the Teaching of Reading and Spelling’, (DfES, January 2006). Several randomized controlled trials were carried out on ...

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