Early Years Research Centre

Research team: Sally Peters, Vanessa Paki, Elmarie Kotzé and Nadine Ballam

Project Dates: 2013 - 2017

Partnerships: Mälardalen University, Sweden; University of Strathclyde, Scotland, UK; University of Iceland, Iceland; Charles Sturt University, Australia; and University of Waikato, New Zealand

Project Background

Pedagogies of Educational Transitions [POET] was a Marie Curie International Research Staff Exchange Scheme [IRSES] project programme of staff exchange and networking between the University of Waikato, Mälardalen University, Sweden, University of Strathclyde, Scotland, University of Iceland and Charles Sturt University, Australia.

It brought together experienced and early stage researchers from the five universities to build expertise and skills, and strengthen international research partnerships in the area of researching young children’s educational transitions.

In each of the five POET countries  there was a policy focus on the early years, particularly as governments express concern about the educational achievements of their children and the long term economic and social consequences of children’s engagement in education. There was also recognition of the importance of a positive start to school and policy and practice rhetoric around building effective pedagogies of transition.

The New Zealand Team members from the University of Waikato and the Wilf Malcolm Institute of Educational Research were, Nadine Ballam, Margie Hohepa, Elmarie Kotze, Linda Mitchell ,Vanessa Paki, Sally Peters, Cheri Waititi and  Jayne White. Associate Professor Sally Peters is pictured above (far left) with some of the international POET team recently in Sweden.

Why was this research important?

POET provided opportunities to examine issues of pedagogy within a range of community and policy contexts. Questions were posed and addressed at the international, comparative level across the five countries to provide evidence to inform national and international debates and provided directions for policy and practice. By highlighting both the challenges and possibilities of educational transitions it provided insights into longer-term educational outcomes.

What were the aims of the project?

  1. To facilitate the development of diverse research skills and expertise among the researchers;
  2. To promote collaboration among early stage and established researchers around the topic of pedagogies of educational transition;
  3. To build sustainable research collaborations between the universities that will be maintained and extended, leading to proposals for major international research projects around early years education and educational transitions;
  4. To expand knowledge and understanding of the significance of educational transition for young children, their families and communities in national and international contexts; and
  5. To generate knowledge transfer among and between researchers, educators, other professionals and policymakers involved in educational transitions.

What were the impacts?

Some of the impacts of the collaboration in this project included:

  • Use of techniques, equipment or resources, unavailable in New Zealand
  • Adoption of new methods currently unavailable in New Zealand
  • New Zealand expert advise to influence international institutions
  • International recognition of New Zealand as a centre for innovation

The collaboration in Scotland led to the sharing of many ideas and resources. There had been opportunities to consider the adoption of new methods, not necessarily those that were currently unavailable in NZ, but methods that were perhaps under-utilised.

Promotion of New Zealand research in the area of educational transitions had increased recognition of New Zealand as a centre for innovation, and enabled opportunities for international networking and the strength of our indigenous research approaches had been recognised.

In each country, members of the New Zealand team had been selected as keynote speakers to the policy and practice audiences. We were represented in, or had led or co-led, all of the collaborative publications and had been active in developing the future publishing plans. Our knowledge had been utilised in critique and review for other partners.

Important facts to take away?

Transitions can be seen as an intrinsic component of existence, within the life of any society. Educational transition points may offer both crisis and opportunity for learners. ‘Successful’ transitions depend on how success is defined, and whose lens is used.  Acceptance, a sense of belonging and opportunities to build on valued learning assist incorporation to a new role and setting. Reciprocal, respectful relationships between all involved were assisted by mutual understanding and appreciation of the ‘other’.  Effective pedagogies drew on these understandings and were nuanced to the learner and the context.

Each of the teams of participating researchers were involved in existing programmes of research examining pedagogies of educational transition in their own country. POET provided the opportunity to extend their skills and expertise beyond these country projects to pose and address questions at the international, comparative level.

One of the Early Years Research Centre Associate Directors, Associate Professor Sally Peters,  co-lead the New Zealand team, along with Vanessa Paki. The University of Waikato’s participation was supported by the New Zealand-EU International Research Staff Exchange Scheme (IRSES) Counterpart Fund. This was a Government fund, administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand.

Publications and presentations

Crocket, K., & Kotze, E. (2016). Outsider witnessing as research method: Treaty of Waitangi partnership in academic work and leadership. In Twelfth International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, USA. (This paper researched the partnership of the two NZ POET project leaders, Sally Peters and Vanessa Paki)

Davis, K., Bird, C., O’Connor, R., Rees, H., Spencer, S., Paki, V., ... Peters, S. (2015). Beyond the gate: A case study of dispositional learning from kindergarten to school. Early Childhood Folio19(1), 25-30. https://doi.org/10.18296/ecf.0005

Hohepa, M. K., Paki, V., Peters, S., Hawksworth, L., Olliver, D., Anderson, T., . . . Hakaraia, T. (2016). From about the child to with the child: Assessment and transitions in indigenous language education. In Public Scholarship to Educate Diverse Democracies. American Educational Research Association, Washington DC, USA.

Hohepa, M. K., & Hakaraia, T. (2016). Teachers working collaboratively to support transition in Māori immersion education settings ñ Whanaungatanga in action. In 10th Annual Indigenous Peoples of the Americas Indigenous Peoples of the Pacific AERA Pre-Conference 2016. Conference held at National Museum of the American Indian, Washington DC, USA.

Hohepa, M. K. (2015). Nau mai; Whakawhiti mai: Enhancing transitions from kōhanga to kura. In He Manawa Whenua Indigenous Research Conference 2015.

Hohepa, M. K., Gilbert, T., Hawksworth, L., Anderson, T., Olliver, D. A., Pohatu, T., . . . Peters, S. (2015). Transition and indigenous language education settings. In AERA: Towards Justice. Culture, Language and Heritage in Education Research and Praxis. Chicago, Illinois.

Kotze, E., Crocket, K., & Waititi, C. (2016). Meeting the Wharenui Shapes Teaching/Learning Therapy: Place pedagogy, new materialism, and whakaaro Māori. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy37(3), 317-326. https://doi.org/10.1002/anzf.1172

Kotze, E., Crocket, K., & Waititi, C. (2016). Student respond to the meeting house - a material- discursive account. In Twelfth International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, USA.

Kotze, E. (2015). Hospitality and giving an account of oneself. Small acts of social justice as postcolonial encounter. In Eleventh International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry (pp. 8 pages). University of Illinois.

Mika, C., & Paki, V. (2015). Special section editorial: Te kōhao o te rangahau—The indigenous lens on research. Waikato Journal of Education20(2), 3-4. https://doi.org/10.15663/wje.v20i2.200 (Special section with papers from the POET Indigenous Research conference)

Mitchell, L. M., & Bateman, A. (2015). Bridging transitions through cultural understanding and identity. In EERA: ECER 2015 Conference. Budapest, Hungary.

Mitchell, L., Cowie, B. M., Clarkin-Phillips, J., Davis, K., Glasgow, A., Hatherly, A., . . . Taylor, M. (2015). Case studies of assessment practice. Examples from Continuity of Early Learning: Learning Progress and Outcomes in the Early Years: Case studies of assessment practice Examples from Continuity of Early Learning: Learning Progress and Outcomes in the Early Years. Wellington, New Zealand: Education Counts.

Mitchell, L., Cowie, B. M., Clarkin-Phillips, J., Davis, K., Glasgow, A., Hatherly, A., . . . Taylor, M. (2015). Continuity of early learning: Learning progress and outcomes in the early years Overview report of data findings. Wellington, New Zealand: Education Counts