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Playing a part in preschool documentation: A study of how participation is enacted in preschool documentation practices and how it is affected by material agents
Linköping University, Department of Social and Welfare Studies, Learning, Aesthetics, Natural science. Linköping University, Faculty of Educational Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2230-4772
2013 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aim of the present study is to explore how children’s participation is constructed and enacted in preschool documentation and what kinds of activities evolve between teachers, children and material objects in preschool documentation practices. The study is based on videorecorded observations of teachers and children documenting different preschool activities in two preschool groups. The video observations are analysed using theoretical perspectives on power relations, governmentality, documentality and agentic realism. The results are presented in two research articles. The results show the complexity of children’s participation in preschool documentation practice. In the first article two different documentation methods, with different theoretical underpinnings, were used in the preschool: portfolio and pedagogical documentation. The results show that, regardless of documentation method, children’s participation varied from attendance to involvement and influence, which can be seen as two ends of a power relation. Power relations between teachers and children also varied between situations as well as within individual situations. The result of the second article shows that children’s participation in preschool documentation practices, as well as the documentation itself, was affected and controlled not only by the humans present, but also by different material agents, such as photos and colour-coded labels. Taking material agents into account allows for a broader understanding of documentation practices, which in turn could open up for new forms of children’s participation in preschool documentation.

Abstract [sv]

Syftet med studien som utgör grunden för uppsatsen var att undersöka hur barns delaktighet i förskolans dokumentation är konstruerad och ”görs” och vilken typ av aktivitet som utvecklas mellan lärare, barn och materiella objekt inom förskolans dokumentationspraktik. Studien är baserad på videoinspelade observationer av lärare och barn som dokumenterar olika aktiviteter i förskolan på två förskoleavdelningar. Videoobservationerna analyserades med hjälp av teoretiska perspektiv på maktrelationer, governmentality, documentality och agentic realism. Resultatet presenteras i två vetenskapliga artiklar. Resultaten visar komplexiteten i barns delaktighet i förskolans dokumentationspraktik. I den första artikeln studerades användningen av två olika dokumentationsmetoder, med olika teoretiska underbyggnad, nämligen portfolio och pedagogisk dokumentation. Resultatet visar att barns delaktighet varierade från deltagande till medverkan och inflytande oavsett vilken dokumentationsmetod som användes. Detta kan ses som två ändpunkter av en maktrelation. Maktrelationer mellan lärare och barn varierade också mellan situationer och inom en situation. Resultatet av den andra artikeln visar att barns deltagande i förskolans dokumentationspraktik samt också dokumentationen i sig, påverkades och styrdes, inte enbart av de deltagande personerna, men också av olika materiella agenter, till exempel foton och färgade etiketter. Att även beakta materiella agenter innebär att förståelsen av dokumentationspraktiken kan vidgas, vilket i sin tur skulle kunna öppna upp för nya sätt för barn att vara delaktiga i förskolans dokumentationspraktik.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2013. , 108 p.
Linköping Studies in Pedagogic Practices, ISSN 1653-0101 ; 21Linköpings studies in education and social sciences, 4
Keyword [en]
Early childhood education, children’s participation, pedagogical documentation, preschool practice, power relations, agential realism.
Keyword [sv]
Förskola, barns delaktighet, pedagogisk dokumentation, förskolepraktik, maktrelationer, agentisk realism
National Category
Pedagogical Work
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-112874DOI: 10.3384/lic.diva-112874ISBN: 978-91-7519-339-7 (print)OAI: diva2:773260
2013-09-25, Bomullsspinneriet, Campus Norrköping, Linköpings universitet, Norrköping, 13:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2014-12-18 Created: 2014-12-18 Last updated: 2015-04-01Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Children's participation in preschool documentation practices
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Children's participation in preschool documentation practices
2015 (English)In: Childhood, ISSN 0907-5682, E-ISSN 1461-7013, Vol. 22, no 2, 231-247 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The Swedish preschool curriculum not only prescribes documentation and quality assessment, it also requires children’s participation in the documentation process, although it offers no directions on how the documenting should be done, which can leave teachers unsure of how to do it. This study differs from research that presents pedagogical documentation as a way of enabling children’s participation in preschool in that it explores children’s participation in producing different forms of documentation in a Swedish preschool – and it finds that such participation is complex. The findings imply that, whether documentation is activity-integrated or retrospective, different forms of participation are possible.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2015
Childhood, children’s participation, children’s rights, pedagogical documentation, preschool practice
National Category
Pedagogical Work
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-105830 (URN)10.1177/0907568213513480 (DOI)000353984500007 ()
Swedish Research Council, 729-2010-200
Available from: 2014-04-09 Created: 2014-04-09 Last updated: 2015-06-08
2. Sticky Dots and Lion Adventures Playing a Part in Preschool Documentation Practices
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Sticky Dots and Lion Adventures Playing a Part in Preschool Documentation Practices
2015 (English)In: International Journal of Early Childhood, ISSN 0020-7187, E-ISSN 1878-4658, Vol. 47, no 3, 443-460 p.Article in journal (Other academic) Published
Abstract [en]

This article is based on a study of Swedish preschool documentation practices. The 2010 revised version of the Swedish preschool curriculum emphasizes documentation as an important practice. The Swedish preschool curriculum also emphasizes children’s participation in documentation and evaluation. The main reason for this can be found in the very first words of the curriculum: ‘Democracy forms the foundation of the preschool’ (Swedish National Agency of Education, 2011, p. 3). This is connected to children’s right to make their voices heard in all matters affecting them according to UNCRC. However, the curriculum does not give any guidelines on how to carry out this practice. A quality audit by the Swedish Schools Inspectorate in 2011 found that preschool teachers were uncertain about how to document (Skolinspektionen, 2011). This, and a lack of knowledge about documentation, sometimes impedes teachers’ documentation practices in the preschools (Palmer, 2012). With the term documentation practices I refer to all events connected to making and using documentations in the preschool; these include, for example, taking photographs, writing captions, printing documents, looking at and talking about photos, and discussing events depicted in photos or drawings. In documentation practices different kinds of artefacts or devices are present and used (e.g., cameras, computers, printers, pencils, and paper) or produced (e.g, printed photos, texts, and drawings). Through methods that are shaped by an agential realist construct, the main objective of this article is to explore how different kinds of material agents, such as computers, photos, teachers and children, can intra-act (Barad, 2007) in the production of children’s participation in preschool documentation practices. The reason for using the term intra-act rather than interact is that, in Barad’s terms, the world is not seen as consisting of separate entities, which the word interaction implies. Instead entities (which could be human or non-human) are temporarily separated or produced through intra-action; ‘relations do not follow relata, but the other way around’ (Barad, 2007, pp. 136-137). This means that entities are not themselves agential, but become agential through intra-action, and that there is no way of determining, in advance, that any of them are active agents. Agency is also not situated within entities, but is rather produced through intra-action, suggesting that also material objects can become active.

What is documented in Swedish preschools can vary considerably, from activities and/or achievements of individual children to activities that encompass the whole preschool. Documentation can be done for different reasons, such as showing parents what their children have been doing,  assessing individual children or evaluating preschool quality as a whole, and it can also be used as a tool for developing the preschool practice (Vallberg-Roth, 2012). There are thus different aims, from documenting in order to be able to remember and evaluate or assess to documenting in order to make way for and develop new activities (Swedish National Agency of Education, 2011).

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer Netherlands, 2015
Early childhood education, Children’s participation, Pedagogical documentation, Preschool practice, Childhood
National Category
Pedagogical Work
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-112873 (URN)10.1007/s13158-015-0146-9 (DOI)

On the day of the defence date the status of this article was Manuscript.

Available from: 2014-12-18 Created: 2014-12-18 Last updated: 2016-02-18Bibliographically approved

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