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Self-Regulation in Early Childhood Policy and Practice in England  

Sue Robson

Self-regulation is a complex, multifaceted concept that can be described as a higher mental process oriented toward children’s (and adults’) metacognitive, motivational, and behaviorally active participation in their own learning. It includes cognitive, behavioral, social, and emotional development. It is related to several other higher mental processes, notably executive function, and the two are sometimes confused and even conflated. They are, however, not interchangeable, and it is vital to clarify both what self-regulation is and what it is not. Failure to do so may lead to confusion at practice and policy levels, and ineffective or inappropriate practice, potentially disadvantageous to young children. Self-regulation may be significant in all aspects of development, particularly in early childhood, and efforts to enhance children’s self-regulation may be among the most effective educational interventions. Interest is reflected in developments in the field of assessment, including by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and in government policy in, inter alia, England. Play, particularly pretense, problem-solving, and talk (both private speech and dialogue) are advocated as rich, naturalistic contexts for the development, support, and meaningful assessment of young children’s self-regulation. Some specific approaches to assessment are identified, notably observation and stimulated recall, in the form of reflective dialogues, including the use of video. Decontextualized assessment is suggested as a potentially less effective approach in capturing the full depth and range of young children’s self-regulatory competence.


Parental Involvement  

Barbara Otto and Julia Karbach

In the recent years, parental involvement in a child’s academic development has been of great scientific interest. As parental involvement is a broad term it encompasses many parental activities that need to be further specified. In line with this, no widely accepted theoretical framework of parental involvement exists so far. Moreover, in terms of assessment of parental involvement a large variety of instruments have been applied: Parental involvement has been assessed by behavioral observations, self-reports, or reports by others. In spite of a missing definition and widely accepted theoretical framework, a myriad of research has been conducted to identify determinants and correlates of parental involvement. In this context, several empirical studies have revealed that the way parents get involved in their children’s schooling depends on a diverse set of variables, which refer not only to the parents themselves, but also to the family setting and the school context. However, the main body of research has focused on the effects of parental involvement. Although it has been found to be a significant predictor for children’s academic success parental involvement also seems to show changes related to the child’s age and grade level. Moreover, the different dimensions of parental involvement seem to have differential predictive value for students’ academic outcomes. Less empirical studies have been done referring to the associations of parental involvement with academic outcomes other than performance. Moreover, the very few intercultural studies conducted in this field suggest there might be similarities but also differences between Western and Eastern parents in the way how they get involved with their children’s education. Based on the presented aspects, future research should aim at developing a consistent definition and widely accepted theoretical framework of parental involvement as well as further investigate underlying determinants and mechanisms.


Assessment for Learning and Self-Regulation  

John R. Kirby and Stefan Merchant

Self-regulated learning (SRL) refers to how learners adapt their learning processes to achieve academic goals. SRL is a complex construct that includes cognitive, metacognitive, and affective components. Research has consistently demonstrated a positive association between SRL and academic achievement. Current models of SRL show the cognitive and motivational processes required for effective SRL: how SRL develops, how SRL has been measured, and how assessment for learning can improve students’ SRL. This research has implications for teaching and assessment, in K–12 school and higher education contexts, including potential barriers for teachers and learners. Further research is required to develop and validate measures of SRL, establish that the effects of SRL are independent of other factors, examine longitudinal relationships, and test the long-term effects and generalizability of instruction in SRL. Just as learners need to change their thinking about learning to become effective SRL students, educators need to change their thinking and practices to become more effective teachers and assessors of SRL.


Academic Coping  

Ellen Skinner and Emily Saxton

Academic coping describes the profile of responses children and adolescents utilize when they encounter challenges, obstacles, setbacks, and failures in their scholastic work. Coping is one of multiple strands of research from a variety of subareas within educational and developmental science that share a common interest in this topic, including work on academic resilience, buoyancy, mastery versus helplessness, tenacity, perseverance, and productive persistence, as well as adaptive help seeking, self-regulated learning, and emotion regulation. These approaches focus on the responses (including emotions and goal-directed behaviors) students actually undertake on the ground when they encounter academic difficulties in their daily lives; patterns of action can be contrasted with the belief systems, motivations, or skill sets that underlie these responses. Since the mid 1980s, several dozen studies have examined academic coping in children and youth from 2nd to 12th grade (ages 7–18), including samples from 29 countries (Skinner & Saxton, 2019). These studies have identified multiple adaptive ways of dealing with academic stress, including problem solving, help seeking, and comfort seeking. These responses are considered productive because they allow students to gather resources and strategies, and so re-engage in demanding tasks with renewed purpose, vigor, and effectiveness. Multiple maladaptive ways of coping have also been identified, such as escape, rumination, or blaming others. These are considered unproductive because when enacted in response to academic demands, they are more likely to trigger disaffection, amplify distress, or provoke negative reactions from social partners. In general, research indicates that students normatively show a profile of coping that is high in adaptive strategies (especially problem solving, help seeking, and support seeking) and low in maladaptive responses. Studies find that students’ adaptive coping is linked to their academic functioning and success, including their educational performance, engagement, persistence, and adjustment to school transitions. In contrast, maladaptive coping is linked to a pattern of poor academic performance, disengagement, and school-related burnout. Students cope more adaptively when they possess motivational assets (such as self-efficacy, relative autonomy, or sense of belonging) and experience interpersonal supports from their parents, teachers, and peers. Studies documenting developmental trends suggest normative improvements in the coping repertoire during elementary school. However, over the transition to middle school in early adolescence, many adaptive ways of coping decline while reliance on maladaptive responses generally increases. Starting in middle adolescence, these problematic trends stabilize, and some studies indicate renewed improvement in coping, especially problem solving. Current research on academic coping faces theoretical, methodological, and applied challenges: (a) theoretically, more comprehensive conceptualizations are needed that integrate coping perspectives with social contextual, motivational, and developmental approaches; (b) methodologically, standard measures are needed that focus on core categories of academic coping, and that utilize allocation scoring; and (c) to further applied work, additional studies are needed that describe and explain normative and differential age-graded changes in adaptive and maladaptive coping across childhood and adolescence. Researchers who study academic coping believe that this work has much to offer educational theories, research, and interventions aimed at understanding how to help children and adolescents develop the capacity to deal constructively with the obstacles and problems they will inevitably encounter during their educational careers.



Dimitrios Zbainos and Todd Lubart

Creativity refers to the ability to produce original work that is meaningful and valuable within its context. Paul J. Guilford, at the American Psychological Association conference in 1950, devoted his presidential address to creativity and stressed its importance for future generations. Guilford conceptualized creativity as a factor within a general theory of intelligence, and in this regard, creativity was an individual ability involving divergent thinking that could be developed through interaction between individuals and their environments. Since then, creative thinking processes have been extensively studied, the initial conceptions have been modified, and new perspectives are being provided; for instance, neuroscientists are examining creative thinking processes using different methods and tools than those used in traditional cognitive psychology. Nevertheless, great creations have not always been the products of one person. On the contrary, many great creative achievements have involved the collaboration of several people, not as the sum of individual creativities but as the product of the whole group. Furthermore, both individual and group creativity, as any other psychological construct, cannot be studied isolated from the context within which it occurs. Even Guilford’s emphasis on creativity was the product of the sociopolitical and cultural conditions of the time (the Cold War, post–World War II intellectual malaise, and the dawning of the space race). Creative processes and acts are not solely an expression of individual abilities; they are also social, embodied, and temporal and should be studied as such. In recent decades the world is characterized by rapid change; the economic and the sociocultural conditions in a globalized economy have led creativity to be a highly socially valued ability. People consume creative products at a higher rate than any other time in history, including artistic creations such as films, music, fine arts, or countless technological innovations, which in turn raises the demand for more creative productions. Education has an important role to play to prepare students for a creativity-thirsty society. In Vygoskian terms it mediates the elements that help children to master their environments. Modern curricula stress the need for the development of students’ creativity so that they are equipped with the necessary skills for the society of tomorrow. It is possible to consider the different facets of creativity through a 7 Cs approach. These Cs provide a framework for examining creativity in terms of creators (creative people), creating (the act of producing new work), collaborations (interactions with close others during creation), context (the physical and social environment), creation (the new production and its characteristics), consumption (the uptake and adoption of creative work), and curricula (teaching and developing creativity through education). Research on creativity, across the 7 Cs, provides numerous avenues for the educational development of creativity.


Emotion and Teacher Education  

Alberto Bellocchi

Emotion research in teaching and education more generally is a well-developed field of inquiry, offering suggestions for initial teacher education course development and practical suggestions for improving the working lives of teachers and schoolchildren. In contrast, emotion research in teacher education is an emergent and expanding area of inquiry. Preservice teachers, or university teacher education students, have unique emotional demands given that their teacher identities may still be in formative stages and their school-based practicum may not present the full complement of emotional experiences that full-time teachers encounter daily and for extended periods of time. Some specific objectives of past research in teacher education include explorations of preservice teachers’ emotions; preparing preservice teachers for the emotional demands of the job; developing understandings about the interplay between teacher–student relationships or social bonds, emotions, and learning; and addressing the strong emotions associated with practicum for preservice teachers, school-based teacher educators, and university-based teacher educators. A diverse range of theories are available for investigating emotion in preservice teacher education. This range presents different ways of conceptualizing what emotions are considered to be, stemming from disciplines including sociology, philosophy, psychology, critical studies, cultural studies, anthropology, and neuroscience. In addition to canvassing theories and traditions, dominant approaches to the study of preservice teacher emotions are addressed including early investigations, which relied on single self-report research methods to the more complex and dynamic multimethod and multitheoretical studies that have emerged in recent years. Suggestions are made for fruitful future lines of inquiry of preservice teachers’ emotional experiences and needs. Teacher attrition and burnout, particularly in the early years, continue to be vexing international problems. Research into preservice teacher emotions and emotion management are two important areas of inquiry that could address the related problems of burnout and attrition. Emotion management is also linked to social bonds, and better understandings of these connections are needed in the context of preservice teachers’ experiences and learning during practicums and within university courses. A focus on enacted classroom and staffroom interactions offers great scope for novel research contributions. Better understandings of structural conditions affecting emotions and preservice teachers’ learning are needed that include the bridging of macrosocial structural factors influencing work conditions with microsocial interactions in classrooms, staffrooms, and during parent-teacher interactions. New research adopting contemporary theories of emotion and methods is needed to explore preservice teacher identities. Combining this focus with the aforementioned lines of investigation into burnout, attrition, social bonds, and connections between macrostructural and microinteractional aspects of teaching and learning presents a third line of novel research. Guiding questions to prompt these and other lines of investigation are offered.


The Influence of Teacher Education on Teacher Beliefs  

Maria Teresa Tatto

Beliefs defined as the cognitive basis for the articulation of values and behaviors that mediate teaching practice can serve as powerful indicators of teacher education influence on current and prospective teachers’ thinking. Notwithstanding the importance of this construct, the field seems to lack across the board agreement concerning the kinds of beliefs that are essential for effective teaching, and whether and how opportunities to learn and other experiences have the potential to influence beliefs and knowledge in ways that may equip teachers to interpret, frame and guide action, and to fruitfully engage all pupils with powerful learning experiences. Large-scale international comparative studies provide the opportunity to develop shared definitions that facilitate the exploration of these questions within and across nations.


Qualitative Research Methods and Students With Severe Disabilities  

Karen A. Erickson and David A. Koppenhaver

Qualitative research methods, in many forms, have been used to deepen understandings in the field of severe disabilities for decades. Using methods such as individual case studies, grounded theory, phenomenology, content analysis, life history, and ethnography, qualitative research has served to explain bounded systems, generate theory, study the lived experiences of individuals, investigate historical and contemporary texts and contexts, share first-person narratives, and investigate cultural and social systems that involve students with severe disabilities. Indicators of quality in qualitative methods and means of establishing credibility have been explicated and are widely applied in the field. To varying degrees, qualitative methods have allowed researchers to represent the voices of students with severe disabilities and engage them actively in the research process, which is important given that a mantra among persons with severe disabilities and their advocates is nothing about us without us. Regardless of the methods, accurately representing the voices of students with severe disabilities and including them as active participants in research is not always easy to accomplish given the nature of their cognitive and communication profiles. Many students with severe disabilities do not communicate symbolically through speech, sign language, or graphic symbols. Others have limited means of communication and are dependent on familiar communication partners to co-construct meaning with them. Some approaches to qualitative research, such as post-critical ethnography, provide a potential path toward representing the voice of a broader range of students with severe disabilities because these methods lead researchers to interrogate assumptions in the field while examining their own positions, perceptions, and beliefs relative to the subject of the investigation. While these methods offer opportunity with respect to their ability to fairly represent and involve students with severe disabilities, they challenge previously accepted indicators of quality and means of establishing credibility in qualitative research. As qualitative research methods are applied in understanding students with severe disabilities in the future, these challenges will have to be addressed.


Life Stories, Criminal Justice, and Caring Research  

Chrissie Rogers

In the context of offenders who have learning difficulties, autism, and/or social, emotional, and mental health problems, their families, and professionals who work with them, caring and ethical research processes can be explored via fieldnotes. Conducting life story interviews and recording fieldnotes within qualitative criminological, education, and sociological research have long since been used to document and analyze communities and institutions and the private and public spheres. They richly tell us about specific research contexts, or everyday lives and relationships, that interview transcripts alone perhaps overlook. It is in the process of recording and reflecting upon research relationships that we can see and understand care-full research. But caring and ethical research works in an interdependent and relational way. Therefore, the participant and the researcher are at times vulnerable, and recognition of this is critical in considering meaningful and healthy research practices. However, the acknowledgment of the fact that particular types of research can be messy, chaotic, and emotional is necessary in understanding caring research.


Moral and Character Education  

David Ian Walker and Stephen J. Thoma

At core, moral and character education aims to develop the moral person. How this end state develops has been hindered by interest from different theoretical positions, differences between practitioners and theoreticians, different assumptions about how far character is educable, and associated measurement problems. Traditionally, moral education is concerned with the interpretation and strategies one uses to understand moral phenomenon and defines the moral person as a predominantly thinking entity, whereas character education emphasizes the development of habits and dispositions as a precondition for the moral person. Current interest is in finding commonalities across these traditions towards the achievement of human flourishing. These points of intersection have often been overlooked, but current work is demonstrating the importance of interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approaches for practitioners, researchers and policymakers.