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Title: Sustainable Outdoor Playspaces in Early Childhood Centres: Investigating Perceptions, Facilitating Change and Generating Theory
Contributor(s): Elliott, Susan  (author); McCrea, Nadine (supervisor); Edwards, Helen  (supervisor)
Conferred Date: 2012
Copyright Date: 2011
Open Access: Yes
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Abstract: The study documented here is located in a time of growing concerns about global sustainability and more particularly, within the field of early childhood education where uptake of education for sustainability is just beginning. At this critical juncture limited research informs uptake and this thesis is an attempt to partly ameliorate the situation. Further, there is a sense of urgency in promoting change towards sustainable living for future generations and young children must be active and empowered participants in this change. While this study facilitated localised centre change, the potential to inspire broader change in the early childhood field is highlighted. The research focus arose from my professional concerns about early childhood centre outdoor playspaces. In particular, I noted that the implementation of education for sustainability was often anecdotally linked with natural playspaces and questioned how this link might be examined. In this study, the interfaces between natural play spaces, sustainability and education for sustainability were investigated with a view to exploring meanings, facilitating change and generating theory about what is a sustainable early childhood outdoor playspace. Critical participatory action research (CPAR) was employed to facilitate change with two early childhood communities, Banksia Childcare Centre and Acacia Kindergarten. Over a one-year period the unfolding centre case studies offered insights into staff and parent perceptions about sustainability and education for sustainability and the processes of transformative change in early childhood communities. The disparate case study narratives invited comparative analysis and theory generation. In particular, the theorising highlighted the complexity and depth of the interfaces and inspired conceptualisation of a nested-systems framework. Drawing from this study key challenges and possibilities were identified including the potential for action research to facilitate change and the vital roles of leadership and relationships in early childhood education for sustainability. The meanings constructed here invited description of a sustainable vision for the future in early childhood education. This study was about transformative change not only for the research participants, but myself as a researcher. This thesis is not a summation, but a glimpse into formative and ongoing transformative processes for all concerned.
Publication Type: Thesis Doctoral
Field of Research Codes: 111799 Public Health and Health Services not elsewhere classified
Socio-Economic Outcome Codes: 920499 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) not elsewhere classified
Rights Statement: Copyright 2011 - Susan Elliott
HERDC Category Description: T2 Thesis - Doctorate by Research
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