Students learn about documentation throughout their teacher education program

Carolyn Pope Edwards, Susan Churchill, Mary Gabriel, Ruth Heaton, Julie Jones-Branch, Christine Marvin, Michelle Rupiper

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Study groups and learning circles can offer a systematic way for early childhood teachers to interact about their work and create a culture of professional development. This paper describes how faculty systematically followed a collaborative co-inquiry process in order to improve a new early childhood interdisciplinary teacher preparation program. The team met on a regular basis throughout one academic year, with the stated objective of infusing observation/documentation knowledge and skills in a coherent and systematic way throughout the students' program of studies. The group created a template of the cycle of inquiry, which could apply to all courses, and analyzed the documentation process along a series of skill dimensions: (1) level that students are expected to achieve (awareness, application, refinement/ integration); (2) focus of the students' observations (who, what, where, when, how); (3) width of the lens of observation (e.g., focused narrowly on one dimension of behavior or widely on a whole classroom environment); (4) intended audience of the completed documentation (e.g., children, parents, professional colleagues); and (5) finished product of documentation (e.g., project panel, memory book, slide presentation). The coinquiry process allowed the faculty to improve the ways that the program helps students move from an awareness level toward a practitioner level in using observation and documentation. The students' reflections and finished work suggest how they learned to promote children's learning, partner with parents, and come to think of themselves as "professionals" in their field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEarly Childhood Research and Practice
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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