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Earlypedagogicalassessment ofyoungchildren atpreschool

Swedishpreschools arenow part of a strongculture of assessment. Youngchildren'sdevelopment andlearning isdocumentedthrough tests and measurement, and isassessedusing avariety ofdiagnostic tools. Athesis from the University of Gothenburg showshowpreschoolteachers arealsoinvolved in assessing preschool children thgough pedagogical documentation.

Pedagogicaldocumentationinvolvespreschoolteachersobserving andkeeping arecord ofchildren'sattempts tocreate meaning. Thisdocumentationtoolwasdeveloped at the municipalpreschools in Reggio Emilia innorthern Italy.Various events andprocesses inpreschoolactivities aredocumented via photographs,filming orwritten notes. Afterwards, thepreschoolteachersreflect ontheirownpedagogical activities. The work withpedagogicaldocumentation iswidespread in Swedish pre-schools.Morethanhalf ofSweden'smunicipalitiestraintheirpreschoolteachers in the method. However,there is a lack ofempirical studiesintopedagogicaldocumentation in particular.

Individualassessments Lise-LotteBjervas hasobservedpreschoolteachersdiscussing andmakingassessments ofchildren in relation to thepedagogicaldocumentation thattheyhavecarried out. Themajority of thechildrenbeingdiscussed in theconversations thatwereobserved areaged 1-3 years. "The perception isoften thatpedagogicaldocumentationshoulddiffer fromotherdocumentation and notinvolveindividual assessments.But this form ofdocumentationdoes infactinvolveindividual assessment,"says Lise-Lotte Bjervas.

Expandedopportunities Herstudy shows that theteacherschieflyassess thechildren asbeingcompetent and in possession of anumber of skills. However, theteachersplacetheseskills first andforemost in thechildrenthemselvesratherthan in theeducationalcontext that thechildren are offered. "Theconcept ofcreatingmeaninginvolveschildrenorganisingtheir world andtrying tounderstand thecontext inwhichthey live.Assessing achildpedagogicallydoesn'tnecessarilyhave tomeanfocusing on thethings that thechildfinds difficult.It's achance to look attheirpossibilities as well,"says Lise-Lotte Bjervas. From thediscussionsshe hasexamined at thepreschools it hasemerged that theteachersfind thedocumentationuseful for thechildren as well. Theteachersbelieve that thedocumentationhelpimproveopportunities forchildren to showtheir abilities,usethem anddevelop new skills.

Morepreparation for school Swedishpreschooleducation hasgrownout of asocio-pedagogical tradition and ishighlighted by the OECD as anexample inwhich care,education andlearning form acohesive unit. However, tenyears on from thepreschool reform of 1998 -when theauthorityresponsible forpreschoolschanged from Socialstyrelsen (National Board of Health and Welfare) to Skolverket (Swedish National Agency for Education) -Skolverket'sevaluationrevealed that the image of the Swedishpreschool iscomplex andpartly conflicting.Preschoolactivitieshave changed; Swedishpreschoolshavebecomemore of a preparation forschool and areapproaching the curriculum traditionrepresented by French andEnglish-speaking countries,whereyoungerchildren are exposed to anenvironment that ismore likeschool and schools'working methods.

The thesis has been successfully defended.

Forfurther information, please contact: Lise-Lotte Bjervas Telephone: +46 (0)480 446375, +46 (0)70 3144441. E-mail: lotta.bjervas@lnu.se

idw :: 04.10.2011

PP Leibniz Graduate School on Aging and Age-Related Diseases (LGSA)
The LGSA is a joint PhD program of the Leibniz Institute on Aging - Fritz Lipmann Institute (FLI) and the Friedrich Schiller University (FSU) in Jena.

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