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Playing the Assessment Game in Early Childhood Education: Mediating professional habitus with the conditions of the field.

Basford, Jo (2016) Playing the Assessment Game in Early Childhood Education: Mediating professional habitus with the conditions of the field. EdD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

This thesis is concerned with assessment practice in the field of Early Childhood Education (ECE), and provides an insight into the experiences of five Early Childhood Studies graduates who work in the Private, Voluntary and Independent (PVI) sector who have achieved either Early Years Professional (EYP) or Early Years Teacher Status. The aim of the research was to examine how the participants were endeavouring to mediate their professional habitus with the culture and practice of their workplace and the wider policy context in relation to assessment. The methodological framework that underpins this study is located within a critical social constructionist stance. Bourdieu’s conceptual framework of ‘thinking tools’, concerned with habitus, capital, field and practice, has been utilised in this thesis to examine the relationships that exist between practitioners and other agents in the field of ECE, considering notions of power, class and status and the implications for assessment practice. The study adopted a collaborative and narrative methodology. The main method employed was the formulation of a focus group, which was supplemented by an on-line discussion site and a personal life history narrative written by the participants. MacNaughton’s (2003) model of critical reflection was used as a basis for analysis of literature relevant to the field, assessment policy texts and the empirical findings from the study. This allowed the data to be read from a technical, practical and critical perspective. The findings from this study reveal how professionals find themselves playing an ‘assessment game’, resulting at times in distorted assessment practices due to the performative culture that dominates assessment policy. The participants had limited opportunities to utilise the capital they had gained through their academic studies to fulfil their roles as change agents and transform assessment practices. Consequently, this study offers an alternative view of assessment that is concerned with a set of commitments, or conditions of the field, that effectively require alternative rules to the game. This set of commitments takes account of relations and relationships within the field in which they are located, therefore viewing assessment as relational. Assessment from this perspective becomes a holistic, equitable and democratic practice, where decisions regarding what is documented and how it is interpreted is something that is negotiated locally, across both home and educational boundaries.

Item Type: Thesis (EdD)
Keywords: Assessment, documentation, professional habitus, early childhood
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > School of Education (Sheffield)
The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.690148
Depositing User: Dr Jo Basford
Date Deposited: 22 Jul 2016 12:01
Last Modified: 03 Oct 2016 13:15
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/12918

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