Early Childhood Teaching and Research Group

The Early Childhood Teaching and Research Group is engaged in dialogue and enquiry related to contemporary thinking in the early childhood education and care sector. The group exchanges and builds upon ideas within and across disciplines in a spirit of collegiality, reflection and scholarship.

Our focus

A focus of this group is supporting the professional practice of early childhood educators to enhance their work with young children. To do this, we build strong collaborative partnerships with early childhood educators across the sector, as well as with other professionals working with children and families.

We agree that all children are entitled to experience an early childhood education that gives them access to opportunities that build their individual capacity.

Our research and expertise encompasses a range of early childhood education and care issues locally, nationally and internationally, and brings together innovative theoretical and methodological understandings to solve knowledge problems.

We aim to produce high-quality, high-impact research that produces new knowledge.

Our main areas of research are:

  • environments for learning, development and wellbeing
  • young learners
  • children and their communities
  • transition to school
  • professional learning and the ECEC workforce.

Group members

Our group members have expertise in a variety of research areas.

Please see their individual profiles for research interests and supervision experience.

Students

Higher degree by research students work on a range of research projects across early childhood education research areas.

Student projects

NameTopic Supervisory team
Caroline Scott Children's agency: exploring early childhood educator-child interactions Prof Andrea Nolan, A/Prof Anna Kilderry
Frances Burton The mathematics visible to educators in pre-school settings Dr Anne-Marie Morrissey, A/Prof Susie Groves, Dr Brian Doig
Nathalie Nehma Children's educational experience during times of conflict A/Prof Anna Kilderry, Prof Andrea Nolan
Li Pei A comparative study of teachers’ enactment of early childhood education and care policies in Australia and China Dr Anne-Marie Morrissey, Dr Karen Guo
Naomi David Storying childhood Identities: A narrative Inquiry A/Prof Anna Kilderry, A/Prof Louise Paatsch
Gillian Baxter Family school partnerships within an era of reform A/Prof Anna Kilderry, Prof Andrea Nolan, A/Prof. Di Toe
Kerryn Archdall Understanding resilience through young children's social interactions A/Prof Anna Kilderry, Prof Andrea Nolan
Rosie Garner Perceptions and practices of teachers from early childhood education (ECE) and compulsory school education (CSE) in the transition to school process Prof Andrea Nolan, A/Prof Anna Kilderry
Amathullah Shakeeb Exploring inclusive practice and policy in Maldivian preschools Dr Ben Whitburn, A/Prof Anna Kilderry
Ting Wei Assessing and improving the quality of early childhood settings: applying the ECERS in China A/Prof Bonnie Yim, A/Prof Louise Paatsch
Jingsi Mao An investigation into how the Children Companion Project supports the development of left-behind children in rural China A/Prof Louise Paatsch, A/Prof Bonnie Yim
Maria Nicolas AppBooks and level of engagement in literacy in the early years A/Prof Louise Paatsch, A/Prof Dianne Toe, A/Prof Bonnie Yim
Michelle Fox Meeting the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse students in selected early childhood and primary educational settings A/Prof Bonnie Yim, A/Prof Louise Paatsch
Shirley Soh An investigation into perspectives of early childhood leaders in Singapore in relation to achievements and challenges of their roles A/Prof Bonnie Yim, A/Prof Louise Paatsch, A/Prof Di Toe
Cynthia Tan Infants’ learning and involvement in a Singaporean context: a mixed methods approach A/Prof Bonnie Yim, A/Prof Louise Paatsch
Foong Ling Yong An examination of a primary caregiving approach in selected childcare centres in Singapore A/Prof Bonnie Yim, A/Prof Louise Paatsch

Environments for learning development and wellbeing research projects

Kindergarten outdoor spaces: play, wellbeing and perspectives

This is a project undertaken with Kinders Together Kindergarten Cluster Management Group. The project looks at children’s dramatic play in two kindergarten outdoor environments, as well as perspectives of children and staff on their outdoor spaces.

Principal investigators: Dr Anne-Marie Morrissey, Dr Natalie Robertson, Dr Deb Moore, Nicole Downes

Funding: Research for Educational Impact Industry Collaboration Development Grant, $10,000

Documenting a Sensory Garden-Nature Play Development Project

The Sensory Garden-Nature Play Development project is an existing educational project at a primary school in South West Victoria. Researchers have worked alongside school leadership, teachers, students and parents to find out how an outdoor learning space evolves through different phases of design and development with multi-stakeholder input.

Principal investigators: Llewellyn Wishart and Dr Julianne Lynch

Funding: Faculty of Arts and Education Small Grants Scheme, $3000.00

The Ballarat KinderGardens Project: the research, evaluation and professional development components

Research and evaluation of new ‘green’ outdoor playspaces in Ballarat early childhood programs. This research is providing new knowledge of how children use naturalised outdoor spaces to inform policy and practice in providing outdoor spaces. It also looks at the perspectives of stakeholders (staff, families, children and designers) on new spaces and the design processes.

Principal investigators: Dr Anne-Marie Morrissey, Dr Elizabeth Rouse, Mr Llewellyn Wishart, Professor Julianne Moss

Funding: Forest Hill, $18,000

Greening childcare outdoor learning spaces

The substantial in-kind contribution from Fleming’s Nursery enabled this small study on the responses of babies and toddlers to the ‘greening’ of their outdoor space.

The study also lay the groundwork for later research into the effects of naturalised outdoor spaces, and children’s responses to them.

Principal investigators: Dr Anne-Marie Morrissey, Dr Liz Rouse, Mr Llewellyn Wishart, Professor Julianne Moss

Funding: $5000 grant from NGIA; $25,000 approx. in-kind contribution from Fleming’s Nurser)

Dramatic play and young children: an examination of curriculum practices in early childhood education (aged 3-6 years) in China

This project aimed to further understanding into children’s dramatic play behaviour and teacher’s play-based pedagogies.

Principal investigators: Dr Natalie Robertson, Associate Professor Bonnie Yim, Associate Professor Louise Paatsch

Funding: Faculty Major Grant Development Scheme, $7,000

Babies and bosses: a case study of work-based early childhood settings in Hong Kong

This project aims to examine the provision and practices of work-based early childhood settings in Hong Kong, i.e. a partnership model between a commercial/social organisation and a non-profit making early childhood education organisation.

Principal investigators: Associate Professor Bonnie Yim, Associate Professor Louise Paatsch

Funding: Hong Kong Christian Service, $56,250

Quality curriculum for under-3s: a case study in Hong Kong

This project aims to investigate stakeholders’ views on the provision and practice of quality teaching and learning experiences for children aged under three years old in the early childhood educational and care context.

Principal investigators: Associate Professor Bonnie Yim, Associate Professor Louise Paatsch

Funding: Hong Kong Christian Service, $45,950

Young learners research projects

A series of comparative studies on learning and learners: Australia, Japan and China

This project involves a series of policy and empirical studies that compare children’s learning and learner identity in a range of learning areas in three countries: Australia, Japan and China.

Principal investigators: Dr Karen Guo, Professor Andrea Nolan, Professor Kiyomi Kuramochi and WanYing Huang

Early years education in the Primary Years Programme: implementation strategies and program outcomes

This was the first major study for the International Baccalaureate into early years programs in the Primary Years Programme.

The research looked at program processes and outcomes in Australia and Singapore, using a ‘mosaic’ approach to capture the perspectives of children, staff, and families, as well as data on program outcomes in the areas of children’s early literacy, school readiness, and development of learning skills.

The study also explored program philosophies and practices, and the influence of social and cultural contexts on these.

Read the research summary
Read the full report

Principal investigators: Dr Anne-Marie Morrissey, Dr Brian Doig, Dr Liz Rouse

Funding: International Baccalaureate Organisation, $44,587

Teacher talk in the early years: building children’s oral language for literacy

This project involved educators, across a preschool and school setting, serving children from a low-SES region of Melbourne. The educators were invited to use teaching interactions with small groups of children to build children’s oral language skills.

Our analysis considered the discourse patterns teachers used alongside children’s responses to identify the dialogic interplay that created opportunities for talk and learning.

Also of interest was the continuity of teaching practices and transitions across the settings that fostered students’ language use.

Principal investigators: Professor Andrea Nolan, Associate Professor Louise Paatsch, Associate Professor Janet Scull (Monash University)

Funding: Wyndham Best Start, $10,000

Assessment of student development and learning in IB PYP schools

This project aimed to investigate how International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme world schools define the purpose of educational assessment in their assessment policies and their assessment practices.

Principal investigators: Associate Professor Dianne Toe, Associate Professor Josephine Lang, Associate Professor Louise Paatsch, Associate Professor Bonnie Yim, Dr Wendy Jobling, Dr Brian Doig, Dr George Aranda

Funding: International Baccalaureate Office, $36,586

Music and young children: an examination of curriculum practices in early childhood education in China

This project aimed to explore the curriculum practices of music education for children aged 3–5 years in selected classrooms across five provinces in China.

Principal investigators: Associate Professor Bonnie Yim, Associate Professor Louise Paatsch, Dr Natalie Robertson

Funding: Chor Hang Educational Research Institute (CHERI), $5,400; Faculty fieldwork research fund $2,800; Faculty small equipment fund $2,492

Children and their communities research projects

Multicultural education and practices in Australia

This project involves a documentary and empirical study of multicultural pedagogies in early childhood education.

Principal investigators: Dr Karen Guo, Dr Sue Emmett (Federation University), Dr Majida Mehana (Federation University)

A comparative study of early childhood policies and pedagogies between Australia and China

This study situates early childhood policies and pedagogies in a cross-country context between Australia and China. It reports a comparative study of early childhood teachers’ perspectives of pedagogies, curriculum policies and the influence of policies on their teaching pedagogies.

Principal investigators: Dr Karen Guo, Associate Professor Anna Kilderry, WanYing Huang

Parenting in diverse cultural communities

This project explores issues and strategies of parents of newly arrived families in Australia to open up understandings about what it means to support families from diverse cultural groups.

Principal investigators: Dr Karen Guo, Judi Gray (VICSEG)

Inclusive practices for children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds in early childhood education settings in Victoria and Sichuan

This project aimed to enable participants to critically reflect on their inclusive practices in early childhood curriculum and pedagogy.

Principal investigators: Associate Professor Indika Liyanage, Dr Laura Gurney, Associate Professor Bonnie Yim, Dr Natalie Robertson

Funding: The Department of Education and Training, $22,727; Sichuan Normal University, $25, 000

Transition to school research projects

Transition: a positive start to school – professional learning project

This project explored how participation in a professional learning program supported teachers in meeting Department of Education and Training practice expectations.

It considered how shared understandings, shared language and professional capabilities were built between professionals working in the transition to school space.

Principal investigators: Dr Elizabeth Rouse, Rosemarie Garner, Maria Nicholas

Funding: Department of Education and Training (Victoria), $1.7million

Support for children and families at risk of experiencing vulnerability in early years transitions: practice review

This project conducted a practice review that builds upon a rapid literature review to identify promising practices, strategies and gaps in relation to transition to school across Victoria.

The final report, ‘Early Years Transitions: Support for Children and Families at Risk of Experiencing Vulnerability’ aims to assist professionals from early childhood education and care settings and schools to learn from what works in terms of building strong partnerships with families and professionals, and to provide the knowledge, skills and understandings needed to effectively support children and families experiencing vulnerability in their transitions to school.

Read the report

Principal investigators: Professor Andrea Nolan and Associate Professor Anna Kilderry

Funding: Department of Education and Training (Victoria), $128K

Development and trial of transition to school statement

With stakeholders this project developed, trialled and evaluated a Transition to School Statement and accompanying guides for the Department of Education and Communities, NSW.

Building on from the project work, transition statements and guides are now used state-wide across preschools and schools in NSW.

Principal investigators: Professpr Andrea Nolan and Associate Professor Anna Kilderry

Funding: Department of Education and Communities NSW, $198K

Professional Learning and the ECEC Workforce research projects

Reflective practice research project

The project provided early childhood leaders of Wyndham Kindergartens the opportunity to conduct a small-scale inquiry about their practice through participating in individual Action Research projects (Reflective Practice Research Projects.

The project also explored the impact of the research design in its ability to both capture change in educators' practice and empower them to confidently research their own practice, thus creating a self-sustaining model.

Principal investigators: Professor Andrea Nolan and Dr Karen Guo

Funding: Wyndham City Council, $10,336

A praxeological inquiry: rethinking in/equity in early childhood practice

This project provided early childhood teachers with the opportunity to conduct a small-scale inquiry about their own practice with a focus on in/equity across the curriculum.

Principal investigator: Associate Professor Anna Kilderry

Funding: Deakin University Centre for Research in Educational Futures and Innovation (CREFI) $7K funding & $1,800 Geelong Kindergarten Association

Professionalisation and the ECEC workforce: a capabilities-based analysis

This project identified the alignments and tensions between policy-valued professional capabilities and practitioner-valued professional capabilities in an effort to inform effective professional learning programs for the sector.

The findings highlight that as early-childhood educators navigate official expectations of their role, they rely heavily on what they value and choose to pursue in their pedagogic work.

Principal investigators: Professor Andrea Nolan and Dr Tebeje Molla

Funding: Research for Educational Impact Research Development Grant, $10,000

Early childhood educators as agents in improving intergenerational educational outcomes

This study arises from a tension in the current reform agenda for the Australian early childhood sector, and sheds light on how early childhood educators can help address intergenerational educational disadvantage by raising aspirations for their own learning and for the children with whom they work.

Principal investigators: Professor Stephen Lamb (Victoria University) and Professor Andrea Nolan

Funding: ARC Discovery $305,900

Statewide professional mentoring program for early childhood teachers

This study explored the current mentoring capacity of the early childhood sector with a view to developing future mentoring arrangements for ‘new to the profession’ or ‘professionally isolated’ early childhood teachers.

Principal investigators: Professor Andrea Nolan, Dr Anne-Marie Morrissey, Dr Elizabeth Rouse, Dr Sarah Ohi, Louise Laskey, Dr Catherine Hamm (Victoria University), Jan Hunt (Victoria University), Jennifer Aitken (Victoria University), John McCartin (Victoria University)

Funding: Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (Vic), $1,300,000

Investigating the use of IELTS in determining employment, migration and professional registration outcomes in healthcare and early childhood education in Australia

This project identified the perspectives of service providers and staff on the usefulness of IELTS in the fields of healthcare and early childhood education.

Findings also highlighted challenges faced by international students and graduates in these fields, such as in practicum placements and early employment.

Read the report

Principal investigators: Professor Jillian Blackmore, Dr Cate Gribble, Dr Anne-Marie Morrissey

Funding: IELTS, $51,843

Making a difference for young gifted and talented children

This project was designed to support the learning of primary and early childhood teachers in their work with gifted and talented children.

Action research, feedback and project data indicated that participants gained skills and knowledge to identify advanced learners, providing challenging curriculum for individual children and their classes, and working with families of young gifted and talented children.

Principal investigators: Dr Anne-Marie Morrissey and Dr Anne Grant

Funding: Department of Education and Training (Victoria) 2015:$27,273; 2016: $25,717

Collaboration

Our research is collaborative, as we partner with others in order to advance the application of the research findings.

At Deakin, we work with fellow researchers in the Faculty of Health across the disciplines of psychology, occupational therapy, child play therapy, exercise and nutrition sciences.

We collaborate with industry organisations including:

  • Victorian Department of Education and Training
  • Horticultural Innovation Australia
  • Bethany Kindergarten Services
  • Barwon Child, Youth and Family
  • Early Childhood Management Services
  • Eureka Community Kindergarten Association
  • Ballarat Council
  • Uniting Care
  • Wyndham Early Education and Care Services
  • IELTS
  • Fleming’s Nursery
  • bestchance
  • Kinders Together Early Years Management
  • Association of Graduates in Early Childhood Studies
  • Bastow Institute of Educational Leadership
  • Victorian Cooperative on Children’s Services for Ethnic Groups.

Internationally, we've collaborated with the International Baccalaureate Organization and fellow researchers at:

  • Kent State University, US
  • SEED Institute, Singapore
  • SEGi University, Malaysia
  • Tokyo Gakugei University, Japan
  • BangDi Polytechnic, Shanghai, China
  • Hong Kong Christian Service, Hong Kong
  • Chor Hang Educational Research Institute, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Contact us

For more information about early childhood education research, please contact Professor Andrea Nolan.

Andrea Nolan
Professor in Education
Email Andrea Nolan
+61 3 522 73435