As we continue our journey towards becoming critical consumers of research, we have begun the process of research simulation. I am learning by leaps and bounds about the process of research and how it relates to both my personal and professional life. I have even surprised myself by bringing in specific terminology to conversations with others. For example,
This week at work, we were discussing how certain things in life were more subjective, rather than objective. I was able to offer my opinions and insights based on learning the background meanings of the words subjectivity and objectivity. Towards the end of the conversation, an individual piped up and commented on how I was introducing “big” words into the topic at hand. I beamed proudly, stating that I had learned it in grad school.
Getting back on track now … as I have begun to undertake this research simulation and started the design process, it is important to not get too narrowly focused that I miss other research happenings around me. In light of our blog assignment this week, I took a few moments (ok, perhaps a few hours) to explore the international research efforts of early childhood education. While each website was phenomenal, I opted to dive into the Sub-Saharan African portal of the Early Childhood Development Virtual University. I was fascinated by the amount of information presented and the wealth of research efforts that were occurring on this continent.
While there were about 25 different reports about the research efforts occurring within the Sub-Saharan area, there were three particular research endeavors that captured my attention and taught me more about the intricate process of research.
- Improvement to Quality of Childcare through Enriching Parents and Professionals
* Habtom, A. (2004) *See references for proper APA citation*
This research effort intended to improve the quality of development and learning for children in the country of Eritrea through increasing parent enrichment and properly training the professionals. When the parents are placed at the forefront of education, it runs smoothly and effectively. Without this support from the parents (and the surrounding community), any early childhood education interventions will be unsuccessful. Therefore, this study worked to strengthen the skills, knowledge, and abilities of parents of young children to increase quality in childcare. Furthermore, it also desired to properly train professionals to work with parents and empower them with these necessary skills. With these two components working simultaneously, the impact and quality of the development and learning of children should improve. The results from the project found that parent enrichment needs to be paired with other programs and support systems to reach optimal performance. In addition, when the professionals are properly trained, it will become cost efficient (Habtom, 2004). To read more about this exciting research study, click here for the full article.
- Implementing a Curriculum for Teacher Education at a Higher Educational Level
* Sebatane, E (2003) *See references for proper APA citation*
The researcher of this study advocated that the country of Lesotho needed to implement a curriculum that properly trained pre-service teachers and equipped them with a certification upon the completion of the program. The country of Lesotho currently does not uphold a standardized training program for teachers-in-training, which leaves gaps and creates questions in regards to the level of quality in education. This project combined surveys, interviews, and discussions of a small group of professionals to determine their level of knowledge and education. The results founded that there was a lack of knowledge and skills among these teachers, especially in regards to the specific knowledge of child development. Therefore, the discussions and conclusion urged for a standardized curriculum for pre-service teachers that emphasizes child development and learning, which will prepare these professionals with the appropriate levels of knowledge and skills to provide high quality education and care (Sebatane, 2003). To read the full article of this research effort, please click here.
- Assessing the Interaction and Stimulation between Single Mothers and Their Children in Low-Income Families
Matola, C.E. (2004) *See references for proper APA citation*
This research project examined the correlation between single mothers from low-income families and the interaction with their children in the country of Malawi. The literature review in the beginning emphasized the importance of positive simulation and interaction between parents and their children. If this is missing, the development of the brain and learning could be impaired. Through a combination of interviews and observations, the researcher discovered that the childcare among this group of children was significantly poor due to multiple factors, like economic hardships, lack of a fatherly role and his support, insufficient knowledge about child development, and long working hours. As a result, the children are at a heightened risk for malnutrition, poor development, and impaired learning. Based upon these findings, the research project suggested several recommendations to increase the holistic development of children, which included providing financial assistance, educating mothers about the importance of interaction and child development, and implementing policies that will ensure good childhood health and well-being for this targeted population (Matola, 2004). If you desire to read more about this research study, please click here.
After reading about these specific research efforts that are occurring internationally, I gained several new insights, pieces of information, and facts about early childhood. In no particular order, they are as follows:
- Research studies should be culturally sensitive and considerate of the community surroundings.
Reading through the first research article, I was astounded to discover how much of a role the community actually has. In addition, the research process should be respectful and considerate of the surrounding culturally influences. This new piece of information in regards to research enlightened me and challenged me to go back through my research simulation, incorporating cultural and community considerations.
- The holistic development of children is a desire and ambition of early childhood professionals and researchers worldwide.
In every research article I read, these exact words were written somewhere within the body: “holistic development.” While a research project may specifically focus on an aspect or topic in early childhood education, the underlying aim is to improve the holistic development of children. This intention is not just evident in the United States or another country, but rather can be found interlaced throughout research and programs worldwide. This new insight kindled my passion, as I was able to see that fellow professionals and researchers seem to have the same deep desire as I do, which is to address the holistic development of children.
- Research studies have limitations.
While this may not be a new fact in and of itself, I was able to identify clearly how a research study has limitations. For example, at least two of the three articles described above had a limited sample population under thirty. From our main text book, I recall that to get reliable, statistic results, the sampling population should be at least 30 (Siraj-Blatchford, 2010, p. 230). Since there was such a low sampling population, I could see how the results would probably not be able to be generalized to a larger area or the whole early childhood population. The limitations were also noted near the end of the article, which reinforced my initial wonderings as I read through the sampling methods. This new fact helped me to be more aware that my research simulation will have limitations, however it will still lead to new discoveries and findings.
- Interviews and observations were frequently used.
As I read through the data collection methods of the above articles, I took careful note to see which ones were chosen. Much to my surprise, I discovered that interviews and observations were frequently used. This lead me to the new insight that perhaps these two methods are most appropriate for early childhood educational research. My pondering will continue, as I learn more about research in this field and the preferred data method collections.
Alright, you’ve made it this far. Rather than droning on for another page about the fascinating discoveries of the Sub-Saharan portal on the Early Childhood Development Virtual University, I will bullet point some of the noteworthy information I found:
- Different approaches to the curriculum are described, which include an ecological approach, a multicultural approach, and a cohort driven approach
- The description and impact of the University is listed in a PDF form. This is a fabulous document that outlines an overview of the university, as well as the internal and external impacts it has.
- Country reports for 10 countries within the Sub-Saharan region are listed, outlining in-depth details and statistics about the data of children, women, and families in that specific country.
- All of the participants in the program are listed with a short biography. Those included are the students, faculty, staff, advisers, and funders.
- External links are provided to access the overarching Early Childhood Development University, which is based out of the University of Victoria in Canada.
To access this website and to learn more about the above information, please click here.
Early Childhood Development Virtual University (ECDVU). (2005). ECDVU Sub-Saharan Africa: Mission statement. Retrieved from http://www.ecdvu.org/ssa/
Habtom, A. (2004). Improving the quality of childcare through parenting enrichment and training of Trainers: The Eritrean model. University of Maryland, Maryland. Retrieved from http://www.ecdvu.org/ssa/documents/major_projects/Habtom%20-%20MP%20Final%20-%20UVic%20LP.pd f
Matola, C.E. (2004). Assessment of interaction and stimulation in single-mother low-income familes. University of Victoria, Canada. Retrieved from http://www.ecdvu.org/ssa/documents/major_projects/Matola%20BA%20MP%20Final%20-%20UVic%20LP.pdf
Sebatane, E. (2003). Developong an ECCD teacher training curriculum in Lesotho as part of a college education program. University of Victoria, Canada. Retrieved from http://www.ecdvu.org/ssa/documents/major_projects/Sebatane%20MP%20Final%20-%20UVic%20LP.pdf
Siraj-Blatchford, J. (2010). Surveys and questionnaires: An evaluative case study. In G. Naughton, S. Rolfe, & I. Siraj-Blatchford (Eds.). Doing early childhood research: International perspectives on theory and practice (2nd ed.) (pp. 223-238). New York, NY: Mcgraw-Hill.