UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Teaching the intangible : how early childhood teacher education instructors "teach" relational development McCannell, Alexandera


This thesis set out with the research question, “How are relationships framed, valued, taught and assessed by early childhood educator program instructors in British Columbia?” I conducted six group interviews and five individual interviews with instructors and directors, respectively, at public and private institutions around British Columbia. Using narrative analysis, I constructed a composite instructor character and a composite student instructor character and, using Ollerenshaw and Creswell’s (2002) problem-solution strategy, analyzed the characters during a chronological school year to illustrate tensions that arose at specific points. Overall, instructors frame relationships as foundational in the Early Childhood Educator Program. I draw parallels between the struggle to support adult students while being responsible to children and the balance between pedagogical and andragogical principles. Modeling and engaging in authentic professional relationships with students were the most effective tools for teaching relational development. Instructors engaged in an editing process to ensure that their actions reflected their beliefs, but were still professional. They noted that relational skills can be difficult to assess, and that they cannot assess a student’s willingness to use appropriate skills when needed. In the discussion, I trace the findings back to the purpose and questions for the research. I draw lines between instructors’ discursive constructions of students and Langford’s (2007) Good ECE, and examine the small but distinct cluster of instructors who spoke of the reconceptualising movement and its bearing on a teacher education program.

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