The field of human development has recently gained considerable importance globally. This results in shifting the contemporary educational discourse, one that moves ECED closer to the front of policy formation. Literature shows that developed nations are investing enormous resources into their early intervention programs, hence, during the last decade international aid agencies, and some education systems, have promoted the creation and expansion of ECED programs in developing nations too.
With the innovations in ECED, there has been conducted a large number of researches to form an objective theoretical foundation (Penn, 2004) to support this advancement. Following passage presents the literature review on the status of qualitative research in the field of ECED. The reviewed articles were published in 3 international journals, Early Years, Early Education and Development and Early Childhood Education Journal during 2005-2010. The first two journals are published by Rutledge and the last one is published by Springer.
The starting point for the literature review was library data base of IED, which permitted access to full text articles. Large no of qualitative studies were found in each journal however, for the present review, only 25 of them were selected on the basis of different research traditions within qualitative paradigm. 15 of them are reviewed for the present task and bibliography of the remaining articles is attached with this paper. The review of the selected research articles is presented in the perspective of trend seen in the topic addressed, methodology used and other critical findings.
Present review of literature reveals that during year 2005- 2010 a variety of topics related to ECED have been addressed in the qualitative research paradigm. For the purpose of this review the topics are divided into different themes based on their focus. Stakeholders’ perceptions of early childhood setting are explored in various studies. For example, children perception of their ECED and their transition to formal schools are presented in (Linklater. 006), perceptions of parents regarding their choices of early years education for their children are discussed in (Ceglowski, Shears &Furman, 2010), similarly, Rentzou & Ziganitidou, (2009) in their study focused on experiences of ECED teachers, moreover, their own and societal perceptions regarding teaching in early years classrooms were also explored. Additionally, teaching and learning processes of early years were studied by (Ahn& Filipenko, 2007, Chana, Juana& Foon, 2008 & Smith 2010).
Moreover, Lives and Professional Development of early years teachers were also addressed by various studies, like, Blank (2009) studied teachers’ lives and experiences in ECED center and Brown (2009) explored the Professional development of ECE teachers in relation to engagement of parents in ECED centers. Early Years Curriculum framework and related topics were also addressed in studies like Goldstein (2008) and Squibb (2010). Addition to the topics addressed, this literature review also analyzed the methodological trends within the qualitative research paradigm.
Case study method was found to be the dominated tradition in this review of research articles. 10 out of 15 reviewed studies were conducted as case studies. (Blank, 2009; Brown, Knoche, Edwards & Sheridan, 2009; Ceglowski, Shears &Furman, 2010; Chana, Juana & Foon, 2008; Goldstein, 2008; Ranz-Smith, 2007; Saracho, 2008; Shield, 2009; Quintero, 2010 &Squibb, 2010). As compare to high number of case studies only 2 were conducted as ethnographical studies (Linklater, 2006 & Trawick-Smith, 2010), similarly, Ahn & Filipenko (2007) and Garavuso (2006) were phenomenological studies.
Moreover, some writers haven’t given their sampling procedure explicitly, however, majority of studies have used purposive sampling based on the purpose of their studies ( Ahn & Filipenko, 2007; Garavuso, 2006 & Linklater, 2006). Throughout the review it was found that within the qualitative approach to triangulate the data multiple strategies were used. Among multiple methods of data collection observation and semi-structured interviews remained the dominant strategies; however, some of the researchers have also analyzed related documents and artifacts.
In some studies anecdotal notes and reflective journals are also used to get more comprehensive data. Addition to these, in the phenomenological and ethnographic studies participant observations were used as compare to the case studies where the researcher took the role of non-participant observer (Maxwell, 1997). Moreover, in majority of the studies interviews and discussions were audio taped and observations were videotaped. After the transcription of the data in some of the studies, data was rechecked by the esearch participants, which, is important to maintain reliability and validity of the collected data (Robson, 2002). Addition to this, ethical considerations like, maintaining the confidentiality of the research participants, prior permission for interviews, respecting participants’ autonomy were taken into consideration throughout the studies; however, none of the writer could describe their ethical framework in more detail, probably due to the word limits.
Another very critical trend was found between the backgrounds of the researchers. All 0f the qualitative researches were being conducted by the people related to the field of ECED, however, only 1 of the studies were conducted by the ECED practitioner who teaches in the ECED classroom (Linklater, 2006).
Most of the researchers are working as a faculty of education departments in various universities (Ahn & Filipenko 2007, Chana, Juana & Foon 2008, Goldstein 2008, Blank 2009, Brown 2009, Shields 2009, Trimis & Sava 2009, Ceglowski, Shears &Furman, 2010 Smith 2010 & Squibb 2010) who no doubt have extensive experience in working in the field of ECED, but, one can argue that how much implications these studies carried out by someone from university would carry to the real classroom contexts where the ECED practitioners are making efforts to make difference in the lives of the young children.
Additionally, literature review also revealed that all most all of the qualitative researches were conducted in western contexts. This exploration has serious implications for the ECED practitioners and the education systems in developing countries particularly Pakistan who is novice in the field and need to be acquainted with research based knowledge in order to strive in the field. In conclusion, the present literature review revealed informative findings regarding status of qualitative research in the field of ECED during the past 5 years in the selected journals.
Case study being the well-established research strategy (Robson, 2002) was found to be dominant research tradition, hence, this also implies that qualitative researchers need to use other traditions of qualitative research particularly life histories and grounded theories in order to present more holistic picture of ECED and its important factors. ?