Exploring young children’s participation and motive orientation in the classroom and at forest school

Rekers-Power, Angela (2020) Exploring young children’s participation and motive orientation in the classroom and at forest school. Doctoral thesis, University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

A RekersPower PhD dissertation 2020 (1).pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License CC-BY-NC-ND Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (7MB) | Preview


This doctoral study uses an interpretive ethnographic approach to explore children’s motive-oriented activity in the reception year classroom and at Forest School. The research considers the experiences of a group of linguistically and culturally diverse 4- and 5-year-olds, in order to conceptualise the child’s situation of development through their participation in socio-material activity settings from the child’s perspective. The study’s objective was to use a ‘wholeness approach’ (Fleer, Hedegaard and Tudge, 2009; Hedegaard, 2018) to consider the child’s developing motive orientations and competencies in dialectical reciprocity with the values, expectations and demands of institutional practice. In doing so, it provides a means of considering how these may contribute to the child’s perception of self as a competent learner and valued participant in relation to the demands of early childhood settings. The study is situated within Welsh Government (WG) strategies for early childhood education, which aim to ensure ‘successful futures’ for all (WG, 2015b). The methodology draws upon Hedegaard and Fleer’s (2008) dialectical-interactive methodology for studying children, in order to make visible the perspectives of the researcher, adults/staff and the child. Fieldwork to collect data took place in the classroom at an urban primary school and a Forest School site over an eight-month period. Participants included children, their parents, teaching staff and Forest School staff. Data were gathered using observation, audio-visual recording, still photography, interviews, informal conversations during drawing and playing, and video-stimulated interviews. The data collection process was based upon ethical principles (BERA, 2011) to encourage informed involvement of participants. Using an environmental affordance perspective framework for analysis (Bang 2008, 2009), events chosen on the basis of conflict are explored to consider how the child negotiates, appropriates and challenges available affordances of things/artefacts, social others and self-experience as an individual within collective practices. The findings demonstrate how diverse children, including those whose behaviour is considered ‘challenging’, are negotiating often conflicting demands. The findings establish the importance of Forest School as an alternative, yet complementary, institution that provides pedagogical and physical space to support teachers in their observations and playful engagement with children. The thesis presents a contribution to theoretical considerations of how young children participate in and shape their interactive experiences in dialectical relationship with the socio-material affordances of institutional practices. The findings provide empirical material to consider how children are viewed in terms of competencies, how conflicts between policy and practice shape children’s participation, and how the concept of motive orientation is critical in order to support children’s sustained engagement in transition between and within educational practices

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Forest schools, Children's interaction, wholeness approach, dialectical reciprocity, dialectical interactive methodologies Education, early years
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1501 Primary Education
L Education > LC Special aspects of education
Divisions: Theses and Dissertations > Doctoral Theses
Depositing User: Users 10 not found.
Date Deposited: 12 Aug 2020 09:04
Last Modified: 17 Aug 2020 07:32
URI: https://repository.uwtsd.ac.uk/id/eprint/1410

Administrator Actions (login required)

Edit Item - Repository Staff Only Edit Item - Repository Staff Only