Values, culture and contexts in
early childhood education
Marika Veisson
Tallinn University
Presentation at EECERA 2013
29...
Short History of Early Childhood
Education in Estonia
 First nursery for infants (2-8-year-olds) in Tallinn was
opened in...
Preschool teacher education in
Tallinn University
 Since 1967 Tallinn University and its predecessors
started to offer hi...
Preschool institutions today
 In 2012/13 we had 644 preschool institutions in
Estonia.
 Altogether 67 034 children parti...
Education level of teachers
 63% of teachers and 98% of principals and head
teachers have higher education on BA or MA
le...
 In the latest national preschool curriculum (2008)
there are seven important areas:
 native language, mathematics, me a...
Former curricula
 1968 – First preschool education program in
Soviet Estonia
 1979 – Second preschool education program ...
 According to the study of Neudorf et al.
(2013) the new curriculum (2008) gives the
teacher more freedom to consider the...
Teaching methods used in Estonia
 Regular
 Step by Step
 Montessori pedagogy
 Reggio Emilia Approach
 Waldorf pedagogy
Research topics
 The most important areas of research are:
 quality of early childhood education;
 curriculum of early ...
Study 1: Teacher’s professionalism
 Tiina Peterson and Marika Veisson from
Estonia, Eeva Hujala and Ulla Härkönen
from Fi...
The research question of
professionality study
 What are the ratings of principals and teachers about
professionalism of ...
Method
 We used structured questionnaires (in the
second phase also focus group interviews),
carried out with Estonian, F...
Sample of the study in Estonia
 Teachers - 174
 Principals – 118
 Questionnaires were sent by post and e-mail
to presch...
Data analysis
 Quantitative data was analysed with the
statistical program SPSS 14.0.
 Analysis of frequency and ANOVA w...
Estonian results (most important)
Area of
professionality
Mean of
teachers
Mean of
principals
Growth
environment
4,72 4,65...
Other areas
Professionality
area
Mean of
teachers
Mean of
principals
Professional
development
4,55 4,38
Planning 4,47 4,44...
Professionalism as evaluated by
teachers and principals
Conclusion of the first study
 We must turn more attention to family
involvement, interaction, planning of
education, and...
Study 2: Quality of learning
environment
 According to Õun (2010) and Õun et al. (in press)
the quality of the learning e...
Quality of learning environment
 The main aim of the study was to
investigate the quality of the learning
environment in ...
 The study included an investigation of the
learning environment of 61 preschool groups
on the basis of the ECERS-R (Harm...
 It appears that in two room groups the scores were
higher. Statistically significant differences were
revealed in the fo...
 Statistically significant differences were also
revealed in the following:
 activities: blocks, sand/water, dramatic pl...
Study 3: Values of teachers, principals
and parents
 Ülavere, Veisson, Tart and Soo (2013)
studied values of teachers, pr...
Theory
 Schwartz (1992) defined basic values as trans-
situational goals, varying in importance, that serve as
guiding pr...
Values of teachers (T), principals
(Pr), and parents (Pa)
Value Conceptual
definition
Definition
components
Mean (scale
1-...
Value Conceptual
definition
Definition
components
Mean
(scale 1-6)
Tradition Respect,
commitment
and acceptance
of the cus...
Value Conceptual
definition
Definition
components
Mean
(scale 1-6)
Self-direction:
action
Independent
action-choosing,
cre...
Table continues...
Value Conceptual
definition
Definition
components
Mean
(scale 1-6)
Face
(subtype of
power)
Maintaining
...
Table continues...
Value Conceptual
definition
Definition
components
Mean
(scale 1-6)
Security
(societal)
Safety,
harmony,...
Table continues...
Value Conceptual
definition
Definition
components
Mean
(scale 1-6)
Universalism:
concern
Understanding,...
Table continues...
Value Conceptual
definition
Definition
components
Mean
(scale 1-6)
Conformity -
interpersonal
First pot...
Table continues...
Value Conceptual
definition
Definition
components
Mean
(scale 1-6)
Achievement Personal success
through...
Table continues...
Value Conceptual
definition
Definition
components
Mean
(scale 1-6)
Hedonism Pleasure and sensuous
grafi...
Table continues...
Value Conceptual
definition
Definition
components
Mean
(scale 1-6)
Power
(dominance)
Social status
and ...
Conclusions of study 3
 Highly evaluated values are benevolence
(caring and dependability), personal
security for teacher...
Study 4: Intellectual development of
Estonian children during 15 years:
A Longitudinal Study
 The aim of the research was...
 Kristina Nugin wrote her PhD as part of this
study
 Tiiu Urva’s PhD study is in process
Instruments
Three instruments were used:
Bayley Scales of Infant Development II (1993) –
for measuring infant’s mental an...
Sample
 51 boys and 51 girls participated
longitudinally.
 The study started in 1996 when the children
were born.
Procedure
 All children were tested individually at the
Child Research Centre in Tallinn University
or in their homes at ...
Results of the IQ study according to
Nugin
100
105
110
115
120
125
Verbaalne IQ 111 109 118 118
Motoorne IQ 121 116 124 12...
Results of the longitudinal study
Ability items Min Max Mean SD
Mental scale
BSID II
80 142 115 15.86
Motor scale
BSID II
...
Table continues...
Ability items Min Max Mean SD
Verbal IQ 3y
WPPSI-R
91 151 116 15.49
Motor IQ 3y
WPPSI-R
106 136 122 9.9...
Ability items Min Max Mean SD
Verbal IQ 4y
WPPSI-R
63 157 112 18.25
Motor IQ 4y
WPPSI-R
78 158 118 15.26
IQ 4y
WPPSI-R
74 ...
Table continues...
Ability items Min Max Mean SD
RSPM (raw
scores)
30 59
(max 60)
50 5.6
Mean of
school grades
4.2
(max 5)
Correlations
 The correlation between the results of BSID-II and
WPPSI-R of 3-year-old children was in case of
general in...
Correlations
 The correlation between BSID II and RSPM was r
= .308, p < .006. Correlation between RSPM and
WPPSI-R resul...
Conclusions
 Our hypotheses was confirmed. IQ scores in
different ages are in all cases correlated
significantly. Intelli...
Study 5: Language development of 2-3-
year-old children (PhD study of Tiiu
Tammemäe, 2009).
 Tammemäe’s study used the Re...
 Both the longitudinal and Tammemäe’s study
indicated that children’s intelligence as well as
speech development are infl...
Study 6: Study about teacher-parent
partnerships
The results of the study (Lukk, 2009):
 indicate a high degree of readin...
Conclusions
 It is necessary to turn more attention to teacher-
parent partnership and interaction;
 Teachers and pricip...
 Teachers and parents consider important personal
security; principals and teachers consider tradition
more important tha...
Marika Veisson EECERA 2013 Keynote
Marika Veisson EECERA 2013 Keynote
Marika Veisson EECERA 2013 Keynote
Marika Veisson EECERA 2013 Keynote
Marika Veisson EECERA 2013 Keynote
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Marika Veisson EECERA 2013 Keynote

  1. 1. Values, culture and contexts in early childhood education Marika Veisson Tallinn University Presentation at EECERA 2013 29 August 2013
  2. 2. Short History of Early Childhood Education in Estonia  First nursery for infants (2-8-year-olds) in Tallinn was opened in 1840 for poor parents by the widow of Baron von Üexküll.  The Estonian Preschool Society in Tartu (Tartu Eesti Lasteaia Selts) was established in 1905 under the leadership of Jaan Tõnisson and Oskar Kallas, who were later well-known statesmen. The aim was to offer preschool instruction in the Estonian language for fostering national spirit. Before that the languages of instruction were German or Russian.  The society also started to organize courses for preschool teachers (Torm, 2011: 82).
  3. 3. Preschool teacher education in Tallinn University  Since 1967 Tallinn University and its predecessors started to offer higher education for preschool teachers.  Before 2002 we offered a 4 to 5 years diploma education, which is equal to MA education today.  Since 2002 the university follows Bologna recommendations. The specialities of early childhood education teacher as well as early childhood teacher-counsellor have been offered at postgraduate level (BA + MA system).
  4. 4. Preschool institutions today  In 2012/13 we had 644 preschool institutions in Estonia.  Altogether 67 034 children participated in preschools.  Estonian government pays to mothers 18 months full salary and this is one of the reasons, why most children start preschool at the age of 18 months.  76% of 2 to 3-year-olds and 97% of 4 to 6-year-olds attend preschools.
  5. 5. Education level of teachers  63% of teachers and 98% of principals and head teachers have higher education on BA or MA level.  In every kindergarten group there are two teachers and one assistant teacher.  Assistant teachers do not have teacher education. This a problem that needs to be solved in the near future.  The adult/child ratio is 1:8.
  6. 6.  In the latest national preschool curriculum (2008) there are seven important areas:  native language, mathematics, me and environment, music, moving, arts and Estonian for not Estonian-speaking children.  Preschools follow national curriculum, but use their own specific methods and activities.  Play and child-centered approach are important in the national curriculum. National curriculum
  7. 7. Former curricula  1968 – First preschool education program in Soviet Estonia  1979 – Second preschool education program in Soviet Estonia  1999 – Framework curriculum  2008 – National preschool education curriculum
  8. 8.  According to the study of Neudorf et al. (2013) the new curriculum (2008) gives the teacher more freedom to consider the needs of children, as well as to choose suitable teaching methods. Differences between the two latest curricula
  9. 9. Teaching methods used in Estonia  Regular  Step by Step  Montessori pedagogy  Reggio Emilia Approach  Waldorf pedagogy
  10. 10. Research topics  The most important areas of research are:  quality of early childhood education;  curriculum of early childhood education;  professionalism of preschool teachers;  partnership with parents and community;  research-based approach as recommended also by OECD (2012).
  11. 11. Study 1: Teacher’s professionalism  Tiina Peterson and Marika Veisson from Estonia, Eeva Hujala and Ulla Härkönen from Finland, Anette Sandberg and Inge Johannson from Sweden and Eeva Kovacne Bakosi from Hungary studied teacher professionalism.  Here I will talk only about Estonian results.
  12. 12. The research question of professionality study  What are the ratings of principals and teachers about professionalism of preschool teachers in the following areas:  interaction  family involvement  planning of education and evaluation of children’s development  using teaching strategies  supporting professional development  creating growth environment  development of values
  13. 13. Method  We used structured questionnaires (in the second phase also focus group interviews), carried out with Estonian, Finnish, Swedish and Hungarian preschool principals and teachers.  Responses ranged on a Likert scale from 1 to 5, where 1 meant “strongly disagree” and 5 “strongly agree”.
  14. 14. Sample of the study in Estonia  Teachers - 174  Principals – 118  Questionnaires were sent by post and e-mail to preschool institutions. Replies were anonymous.
  15. 15. Data analysis  Quantitative data was analysed with the statistical program SPSS 14.0.  Analysis of frequency and ANOVA were used.
  16. 16. Estonian results (most important) Area of professionality Mean of teachers Mean of principals Growth environment 4,72 4,65 Development of values 4,67 4,55 Using teaching strategies 4,60 4,48
  17. 17. Other areas Professionality area Mean of teachers Mean of principals Professional development 4,55 4,38 Planning 4,47 4,44 Interaction 4,43 4,42 Family involvement 4,14 4,11
  18. 18. Professionalism as evaluated by teachers and principals
  19. 19. Conclusion of the first study  We must turn more attention to family involvement, interaction, planning of education, and professional development of teachers in Estonia.
  20. 20. Study 2: Quality of learning environment  According to Õun (2010) and Õun et al. (in press) the quality of the learning environment in child care institutions is an important factor for supporting the development of preschool children.  Every child has the right to high-quality early childhood education.  The learning activities in Estonian preschools follow the national curriculum; however, there are no common criteria for assessing the quality of the learning environment.
  21. 21. Quality of learning environment  The main aim of the study was to investigate the quality of the learning environment in preschools, and to establish whether the created environment supports the implementation of the national curriculum.
  22. 22.  The study included an investigation of the learning environment of 61 preschool groups on the basis of the ECERS-R (Harms, Clifford & Cryer, 2005) scale.  The results showed that the indicators of the quality of the learning environment differed in different preschool groups, and that the spatial conditions of the groups had an impact on several factors.
  23. 23.  It appears that in two room groups the scores were higher. Statistically significant differences were revealed in the following items:  Space and furnishing (indoor space, furniture for routine care, play and learning, room arrangement for play, space for privacy);  Personal care routines (greetings/departings, safety practices, meals/snacks);  Language reasoning (encouraging children to communicate, informal use of language).
  24. 24.  Statistically significant differences were also revealed in the following:  activities: blocks, sand/water, dramatic play and promoting acceptance;  interactions: supervision of gross motor activities, interactions among children, child- staff interaction;  programme structure: schedule and group time
  25. 25. Study 3: Values of teachers, principals and parents  Ülavere, Veisson, Tart and Soo (2013) studied values of teachers, principals and parents.  S. Schwartz Personal Value Questionnaire (PVQ-R3) was used.  Sample: 978 persons participated (163 principals, 425 teachers and 390 parents).  There was a possibility to fill in online or paper version questionnaires .
  26. 26. Theory  Schwartz (1992) defined basic values as trans- situational goals, varying in importance, that serve as guiding principles in the life of persons or groups.  According to his theory basic values are organized into a coherent system that underlies and can help to explain individual decision making, attitudes, and behavior.  This coherent structure arises from the social and psychological conflict or congruity between values that people experience when they make everyday decisions (Schwartz, 1992, 2006, 2012).
  27. 27. Values of teachers (T), principals (Pr), and parents (Pa) Value Conceptual definition Definition components Mean (scale 1-6) Benevolence: caring Preservation of welfare of people Caring for ingroup members T – 5.39 Pr – 5.42 Pa – 5.36 Benevolence: dependability Preservation of welfare of people Caring for ingroup members T – 5.14 Pr – 5.20 Pa – 5.16
  28. 28. Value Conceptual definition Definition components Mean (scale 1-6) Tradition Respect, commitment and acceptance of the customs Maintaining cultural and religious traditions T – 4.96 Pr – 4.97 Pa – 4.58 Universalism: tolerance Understanding, appreciation, tolerance Tolerance T – 4.79 Pr – 4.97 P – 4.61 Table continues...
  29. 29. Value Conceptual definition Definition components Mean (scale 1-6) Self-direction: action Independent action-choosing, creating, exploring Autonomy of action T – 5.00 Pr – 4.94 Pa – 4.90 Self-direction: thought Independent thoughts and creating, exploring Autonomy of thoughts T – 4.82 Pr – 4.94 Pa – 4.64 Table continues...
  30. 30. Table continues... Value Conceptual definition Definition components Mean (scale 1-6) Face (subtype of power) Maintaining and protecting prestige. Face expresses elements of both power and security. T – 4.96 Pr – 4.94 Pa – 4.81
  31. 31. Table continues... Value Conceptual definition Definition components Mean (scale 1-6) Security (societal) Safety, harmony, stability of society Societal security T – 4.87 Pr – 4.89 P – 4.70 Security (personal) Safety, harmony, stability of relationships Personal security T – 5.06 Pr – 4.93 Pa – 4.94
  32. 32. Table continues... Value Conceptual definition Definition components Mean (scale 1-6) Universalism: concern Understanding, appreciation, tolerance Societal concern T – 4.79 Pr – 4.79 Pa – 4.62 Universalism: nature Understanding, appreciation, tolerance Protecting nature T – 4.70 Pr – 4.61 Pa – 4.37
  33. 33. Table continues... Value Conceptual definition Definition components Mean (scale 1-6) Conformity - interpersonal First potential conformity subtypes, interpersonal Politeness/courtesy, honor parents/show respect T – 4.40 Pr – 4.37 Pa – 4.18 Conformity - rules Second potential conformity subtypes: compliance Follow rules, behave properly T – 4.32 Pr – 4.04 Pa – 4.13
  34. 34. Table continues... Value Conceptual definition Definition components Mean (scale 1-6) Achievement Personal success through demonstrating competence Personal success T – 4.18 Pr – 4.21 Pa – 4.24 Stimulation Three potential subtypes: excitement, novelty, and challenge in life Excitement, novelty, challenge T – 4.00 Pr – 4.20 Pa – 3.82
  35. 35. Table continues... Value Conceptual definition Definition components Mean (scale 1-6) Hedonism Pleasure and sensuous grafication for oneself Pleasure T – 3.67 Pr – 3.55 Pa – 3.78 Humility Do not draw attention to self and don’t ask for more T – 3.63 Pr – 3.56 Pa – 3.58
  36. 36. Table continues... Value Conceptual definition Definition components Mean (scale 1-6) Power (dominance) Social status and prestige Dominance of people T – 2.78 Pr – 3.00 Pa – 3.01 Power (resourse) Social status and prestige Control of material recourses T – 2.34 Pr – 2.18 Pa – 2.61
  37. 37. Conclusions of study 3  Highly evaluated values are benevolence (caring and dependability), personal security for teachers and parents and tradition for principals.  Lower evaluated values are power (dominance and resources), hedonism, and humility.
  38. 38. Study 4: Intellectual development of Estonian children during 15 years: A Longitudinal Study  The aim of the research was to study children’s intellectual development in different ages and its stability.  Our hypothesis was that intelligence is stable during early childhood and school age and is significantly correlated with school results.
  39. 39.  Kristina Nugin wrote her PhD as part of this study  Tiiu Urva’s PhD study is in process
  40. 40. Instruments Three instruments were used: Bayley Scales of Infant Development II (1993) – for measuring infant’s mental and motor abilities at the age of 1 to 42 months; WPPSI-R (Wechsler, 1990) for measuring the intelligence of children aged 3 to 7 years and 3 months; Raven’s intelligence test for children aged 13 years to adulthood (Raven, 1958).
  41. 41. Sample  51 boys and 51 girls participated longitudinally.  The study started in 1996 when the children were born.
  42. 42. Procedure  All children were tested individually at the Child Research Centre in Tallinn University or in their homes at least 3 times (at the age of 3,4 and 15).
  43. 43. Results of the IQ study according to Nugin 100 105 110 115 120 125 Verbaalne IQ 111 109 118 118 Motoorne IQ 121 116 124 121 IQ 118 114 124 123 3 a. 4 a. 5 a. 6 a.
  44. 44. Results of the longitudinal study Ability items Min Max Mean SD Mental scale BSID II 80 142 115 15.86 Motor scale BSID II 77 140 111 14.36
  45. 45. Table continues... Ability items Min Max Mean SD Verbal IQ 3y WPPSI-R 91 151 116 15.49 Motor IQ 3y WPPSI-R 106 136 122 9.93 IQ 3y WPPSI- R 98 150 122 14.26
  46. 46. Ability items Min Max Mean SD Verbal IQ 4y WPPSI-R 63 157 112 18.25 Motor IQ 4y WPPSI-R 78 158 118 15.26 IQ 4y WPPSI-R 74 160 117 17.35 Table continues...
  47. 47. Table continues... Ability items Min Max Mean SD RSPM (raw scores) 30 59 (max 60) 50 5.6 Mean of school grades 4.2 (max 5)
  48. 48. Correlations  The correlation between the results of BSID-II and WPPSI-R of 3-year-old children was in case of general intelligence r = .656, p < .001; Verbal IQ r = .951 and p < .001; Motor IQ r =.850 and p < . 001).  The correlation between BSID II and WPPSI-R results of 4-year-old children was in case of general intelligence r = .593 and p < .001; Verbal IQ r = .907 and Motor IQ r = .822 and p < .001.
  49. 49. Correlations  The correlation between BSID II and RSPM was r = .308, p < .006. Correlation between RSPM and WPPSI-R results of 4-year-olds was r =.498, p < . 001.  Average grade point at the age of 15 years correlates significantly with BSID Mental Scale and with WPPSI-R (all ages).  Average grade point correlates also significantly with RSPM.
  50. 50. Conclusions  Our hypotheses was confirmed. IQ scores in different ages are in all cases correlated significantly. Intelligence is stable.
  51. 51. Study 5: Language development of 2-3- year-old children (PhD study of Tiiu Tammemäe, 2009).  Tammemäe’s study used the Reynell test for measuring children’s speech development.  In Estonia this test can only be used for evaluating speech comprehension, not expressive speech (this is a cultural difference).  The Finnish HYKS test was well suited for evaluating children’s vocabulary.
  52. 52.  Both the longitudinal and Tammemäe’s study indicated that children’s intelligence as well as speech development are influenced by parents’ level of education (especially mother’s), telling bed time stories to children, parents’ foreign language skills, and a varied environment.  Successful speech development is also connected to material welfare, since children who live in a family house or have their own room, tend to be more intelligent and better at speech development.
  53. 53. Study 6: Study about teacher-parent partnerships The results of the study (Lukk, 2009):  indicate a high degree of readiness for cooperation from both sides - parents and the school.  Parents and teachers should have mutual power and influence regarding the child's education, although schools have to take the prime responsibility in organizing the cooperation process.
  54. 54. Conclusions  It is necessary to turn more attention to teacher- parent partnership and interaction;  Teachers and pricipals value highly creating proper growth environment, values, and teaching strategies;  Values of teachers, pricipals and parents are quite similar. Most important value for teachers, principals and parents is benevolence.
  55. 55.  Teachers and parents consider important personal security; principals and teachers consider tradition more important than parents; tolerance is more important for principals than for teachers and parents;  The results of the longitudinal study indicated that intelligence of children is stable and correlates with school grades;  Children need more space and a rich learning environment for development.

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