Examining the impact of a discussion group on the self-perception of Early Years Practitioners

  • Stella Louis

Student thesis: EdD


Education reform has created an environment in the Early Years sector in which Early Years Practitioners (EYPs) are increasingly directed to look for outcomes, rather than developing an understanding about the process of learning. The issue of EYP competence and knowledge is often overestimated by an education system which assumes that confidence and high levels of understanding are standard. Therefore, reconciling the difference between what policies expect, and what EYPs can do, is of great interest. Working from a Vygotskyian perspective on group collaboration and peer learning, this study examines the effect of an intervention with a team of EYPs, who took part in group supervision sessions to explore their Observation, Assessment and Planning practice. The aim is to help to develop a model which can support and enhance professional practice.
The study began with four participants who attended ten facilitated group discussions over ten months, in which they addressed specific observational issues to gain insight into how their key child was learning. These sessions provided an opportunity for the participants to engage in professional dialogue and robustly analyse their observations. Data was interpreted using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA), to explore how a group approach might support the participants’ professional development and their understanding of children’s learning.
The EYPs reported links between their own learning within the group and changes in their practice and understanding about children's learning.
Evidence from the study suggests that the Group Intervention had a positive impact on the participants’ practice and that they developed skills in making professional judgements about how best to support and extend the child’s learning. The findings also suggest that collaborative endeavours are a key factor in helping EYPs to succeed at their OAP tasks and enable the development of professional learning.
Date of Award31 Oct 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Roehampton
SupervisorAdam Ockelford (Supervisor), Peter Elfer (Supervisor) & Shaalan Farouk (Supervisor)


  • Early Years Practitioners, Group Discussions, Self-perception, Understanding

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