Hand writing 1600x600

Strathclyde Early Childhood Education HubOur Research and Partners

Across the Hub we engage in diverse research projects which demonstrate the breadth of concepts in Early Childhood Education.  The research demonstrates a range of interdisciplinary connections as our research seeks to support children to flourish.

Becoming a parent is widely acknowledged to be a major life transition (Butler, Gregg, Calam & Wittkowski, 2020; Cowan and Cowan, 2000) and a time of increased vulnerability (Andrade et al, 2020). Parenting itself is recognised as complex, a role often entered with little preparation, and highly influential in the life course of children (Britto, Ponguta, Reyes & Karnat, 2015; Leadsom, Field, Burstow & Lucas, 2014). Parenting is also recognised to be an international policy priority and a public health policy issue (Heckman, 2017; Hodgkin & Newall, 2007), worthy of financial investment (Sadler et al, 2011).  

The aims of this small project are therefore to: 

  1. Hear what it was like to become a parent 
  2. Develop understandings  about what it is like to be a parent of young children now 
  3. Draw out the themes emerging from parental accounts to visualise the journey to becoming and being a parent and 
  4. Link participants’ stories  to what is already written about transition to parenthood in order to write an opening chapter for Bloomsbury Handbook of Early Childhood Transitions Research  

Although it woud be possible to gather stories without formalising this as a research study, given it is a research handbook it is proper to generate a small scale study to underpin the writing of this chapter and to prepare an ethics application to protect participants. In this way this small-scale short-life project will be able to gather recent experiences of the transition to parenthood and the day-to-day parenting role and locate them as relevant to educators as they work to establish positive relationships with the parents of the children in their care. 

Researchers involved: 

This project will investigate the effectiveness of a play-based program to enhance pre-schoolers’ self-regulation (SR) in the transition to school, with a particular focus on children and families from diverse backgrounds and those experiencing risk or vulnerability. The program will be co-designed with families, Early Childhood (EC) educators, and school teachers. The program will subsequently be trialled in a small-scale pilot study involving two transition teams (EC providers and schools). Children’s SR, learning dispositions, and developmentally appropriate academic learning will be assessed following a quasi-experimental pre-/post-test design. Findings will inform the development of a larger scale study that will scale-out the program more widely in the ACT and/or into other jurisdictions.

Researchers involved: 

We are working closely with colleagues in child psychiatry and statistics for a joint UK-Sweden phase 3 diagnostic trial on the efficacy of an iPad-based serious game assessment tool to identify autism spectrum disorder in young children.  The trial has taken place in collaboration with Professor Christopher Gillberg and his team at the Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Centre at the University of Gothenburg as well as our colleagues Professor Helen Minnis and Professor Alex McConnachie at Glasgow, and Professor Phil Wilson at Aberdeen.  We are working to complete our combined Sweden-UK trial of the iPad early assessment for children with autism, and together we are working to develop a new work in novel forms of psychological and motor assessment for young children, and the development of a new study to include wearable assessment of movement in early life as a biomarkers of neurodevelopmental distress. 

Find out more about the Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Centre, University of Gothenburg.

Researchers involved:

  • Prof Jonathan Delafield-Butt (Education, University of Strathclyde)
  • Prof Chris Gillberg (Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Centre, University of Gothenburg)
  • Prof HelenMinnis(Child Psychiatry, University of Glasgow) 
  • Prof Phil Wilson (Paediatrics, University of Aberdeen)

Professor Nicole Rinehart is one of the leading pioneers of the movement perspective on autism, publishing for the first time computational analysis of gait differences in individuals with autism.  With Prof. Rinehart, we are working on full 3D whole body gait analysis of children with autism and other developmental disorders to understand with greater precision movement differences.  Further, our contribution to practice in Education and in the community practice benefits from the All Pay model of sport intervention that recognises the role of movement in health and learning.  We believe this programme may serve as an important educational or social intervention, offering support and affording new opportunities for fitness and emotional well-being in Scotland.  

Find out more about Centre for Social and Early Emotional Development, Deakin University

Researchers involved: 

The project funded by the Education Scotland Enhancing Professional Learning in STEM Grant, is a dual Knowledge Exchange and research evaluation, whereby researchers will work with key practitioners to consider the ways in which early level Science can be delivered in playful, exploratory and pedagogically appropriate ways. The researchers will collaborate with children, parents and practitioners across three different early learning and childcare settings and early primary classes. The project seeks to bridge theory and practice by better understanding the current state of play regarding early science learning and where additional support and training is required to foster creative play focused around science concept learning.

Phase 1: 1st October 2021 – March 2022

Phase 2 (tentative): October 2022 – March 2023

Researchers involved: 

A knowledge exchange project to support early years teachers in Renfrewshire to undertake their own practitioner enquiry. This project, led by Prof Kate Wall and Dr Lorna Arnott, uses a well-established coaching model, to engage two cohorts of teachers in better understanding and exploring their practice to address young learner’s needs in their setting. The input is based around four inputs: 1) an introduction to the pragmatics of practitioner enquiry including how to ensure it is doable within normal working hours; 2) identifying and developing questions for enquiry; 3) collecting evidence in a playful and pedagogically appropriate way; and 4) identifying key learning and disseminating. The project will end with a celebratory sharing event where practitioners can share with each other and more widely the outcomes of their practitioner enquiry

Researchers involved: 

  • Kate Wall
  • Lorna Arnott
  • Renfrewshire Council

This project explores the role of Internet Connected Toys in early childhood home life and education.  We explore how these resources support children’s learning in a multimodal learning landscape.  With data collection across Scotland, England, N.Ireland, Norway and Australia, we are able to understand the breadth of learning experiences which occur when children engage with these resources.  Our research questions are: 

  • What are parents and practitioners dispositions towards children ages 3-7 years engaging with internet-enabled toys? 
  • What are the ecological factors which shape young children’s experiences with internet-enabled toys? 
  • What are the characteristics of children’s play with internet-enabled toys in home and early childcare? 

The project ran for 3 academic years from 2017-2020.  Find out more about the project.

Researchers involved:

  • Dr Lorna Arnott 
  • Dr Sarika Kewalramani 
  • Maria Dardanou 
  • Dr Collette Gray  
  • Dr Ioanna Palaiologou 

 

We are working closely with colleagues in child psychiatry and statistics for a joint UK-Sweden phase 3 diagnostic trial on the efficacy of an iPad-based serious game assessment tool to identify autism spectrum disorder in young children.  The trial has taken place in collaboration with Professor Christopher Gillberg and his team at the Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Centre at the University of Gothenburg as well as our colleagues Professor Helen Minnis and Professor Alex McConnachie at Glasgow, and Professor Phil Wilson at Aberdeen.  We are working to complete our combined Sweden-UK trial of the iPad early assessment for children with autism, and together we are working to develop a new work in novel forms of psychological and motor assessment for young children, and the development of a new study to include wearable assessment of movement in early life as a biomarkers of neurodevelopmental distress. 

Find out more

Researchers involved: 

  • Prof Chris Gillberg (Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Centre, University of Gothenburg)
  • Prof Helen Minnis (Child Psychiatry, University of Glasgow) 
  • Prof Phil Wilson (Paediatrics, University of Aberdeen)
  • Prof Alex McConnachie (Robertson Biostatistics Centre, University of Glasgow) 
  • Prof Jonathan Delafield-Butt (Education, University of Strathclyde)
  • Prof Phil Rowe (Biomedical Engineering, University of Strathclyde)
  • Dr Szu-Ching Lu (Innovation in Autism, University of Strathclyde)

About ten years ago I undertook a Literature Review on Leadership in the Early Years that was published by Education Scotland (Dunlop, 2008). At that time I proposed that empowerment of others, shared leadership and strong relationships were important ingredients of effective leadership. It is time to update that work: to do so it seems important to consult with practitioners who are providing leadership in early learning and childcare settings and in early primary education in Scotland.  Closing the Attainment Gap, the Blueprint for expansion of ELC to 1140 hours (equivalent to the primary school day) (Scottish Government, 2018;  2019and associated recruitment for early years practitioners, and recent academic publications on leadership in the early years make clear this is still a contested concept. System-change on this scale raises questions about whether there is ample leadership to support such change (Nicholson, Kuhl,  Monates, Lin & Bonetti, 2018) and questions the ‘expressed purposes of leadership work’ (p.3).  Drawing on recent works, such as  Davitt and Ryder(2018)six ‘leadership dispositions’ specific to early childhood,  Scotland practice guidance (Education Scotland, 2019) and the Blueprint for 2020 Action Plan (2017), this proposed research identifies three clear aims for the study: 

  1. To provide a picture of current ELC and Early Primary leadership experience and qualifications;  
  2. To explore leadership beliefs and day-to-day practices across diverse early years 0-8 settings; and  
  3. To develop further understanding on how to provide sustainable “on-the-job” leadership development. 

Researchers involved: 

The research focuses on a highly topical area of interest – young children’s learning with digital technologies - aligning with the University’s vision to deliver world-leading research, to be bold and innovative. It is of global significance as concerns about children’s interactions with technologies, and how education should link with technologies, are perpetuated.

This initial scoping exercise will systematically map the narrative that parents and practitioners are receiving from research, policy and grey literature, around how technologies should feature in children’s playful interactions in early childhood contexts. This research funded by the University’s Faculty Grant Scheme will contextualise a larger scale project to empirically explore the place of Multimodal Lifeworlds for learning in early childhood education.

Researchers involved: 

  • Dr Lorna Arnott
  • Prof Nicola Yelland
  • Dr Maria Dardanou
  • Dr Sarika Kewalramani
  • Kenvil Souza

At the University of Southern California we work closely with Professor Lisa Aziz-Zadeh and her team at the A-Z Lab set within Prof. Antonio and Hanna Damasio’s Brain and Creativity Institute. We work to investigate motor differences in children with autism and those with developmental coordination disorder using novel iPad methodologies together with fMRI and standardised psychometrics.   

With Professor Filippo Muratori and his clinical and neuroimaging colleagues Dr Sara Calderoni and Dr Alessandra Retico and Dr Paolo Bosco at IRCCS Stella Maris Foundation and the Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare, respectively, we share significant interests and expertise to help elucidate the brain growth differences in young children with autism.  We recently provided evidence of significant brainstem growth differences with implications for learning in preschool children, and are currently working on new data from the University of Southern California in analysis of brainstem differences related to Autism Spectrum Disorder and Developmental Coordination Disorder.    

Find out more

Researchers involved: 

  • Prof Jonathan Delafield-Butt (Education& Innovation in Autism,University of Strathclyde)  
  • Dr Szu-Ching Lu (Education& Innovation in Autism, University of Strathclyde) 
  • Mr Tim McGowan (Education& Innovation in Autism, University of Strathclyde) 
  • Prof Lisa Aziz-Zadeh(Brain and Creativity Research Centre, University of Southern California) 
  • Dr Laura Harrison (Brain and Creativity Research Centre,Universityof Southern California) 
  • Prof Filippo Muratori (Neuropsychiatry, University of Pisa) 
  • Dr Alessandra Retico (Institute for Nuclear Physics, Pisa) 
  • Dr SarahCalderoni (Neuropsychiatry, University of Pisa)  
  • Dr Paolo Bosco (Institute for Nuclear Physics, Pisa)

With a Fellowship from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, we are beginning new comparative work on early development of sensorimotor intelligence and learning with Prof Tetsuro Matsuzawa, Prof. Yuko Hattori, and Prof. Misato Hayashi at the  Primate Research Institute at Kyoto University, a world-leading centre for comparative psychology of primate intelligence.  In this collaboration, we seek to advance a novel computational analysis of chimpanzee and human movement to determine its motor kinematics during smart tablet gameplay, with an eye to understanding differences in the degree of variability, or adaptive flexibility, in those movements.  This may shed important light on the role of the motor system in development and learning, especially in autism. 

Find out more

Researchers involved: 

  • Jonathan Delafield-Butt (Education, University of Strathclyde)
  • Prof TetsuroMatsuzawa (Advanced Studies, Kyoto University) 
  • Assistant Prof Yuko Hattori (Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University) 
  • Assistant Prof Misato Hayashi (Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University) 

This doctoral research aims to evaluate the extent to which a focus on reflection and revision of emotional constructs will enable Early Years pedagogues to engage in sustained empathic practice. This nine month evaluative case study of a relational and empathic practice-support programme utilises participant observation, reflective discussion and video-enhanced reflective practice (VERP). Practitioners will participate in experiential learning cycles within their practice setting. Through successive cycles of experience and reflection, emotional constructs will be re-evaluated and revised through the lens of empathy and emotional understanding.  

Researchers involved: 

  • Nicky Shaw (PhD Student)  
  • Helen Marwick 
  • Eleni Karagiannidou 

The project hopes to identify and combat the dilution of the Scottish Early Years curriculum, in collaboration with children, staff and families across Nursery and Primary One settings. The researchers will introduce a new model for play-based pedagogy that defines play as a continuum of theory, and of practice. This will include iterative and interconnecting cycles that link the role of the environment, child and adult in high quality provision.

The researchers intend to answer: What are the goals of Early Years education and how do we achieve them?

Key elements include:

  • the dimensions of play,
  • the design and mechanism of an effective play environment,
  • observation from the perspective of the child and adult,
  • tools for measuring the quality of play-based practice.

Researchers involved: 

Kate Wall and Lorna Arnott are completing a practitioner enquiry based evaluation of the Starcatchers arts-based intervention aimed at the deployment cycle in Scots Corner Early Learning and Childcare Centre. Funded by the MoD the project aims to explore all transitions, but particularly those experienced by children whose parent or parents are involved in regular deployment. Staff, children, and families will be involved in a year-long artist residency with movement and music specialist Skye Reynolds, exploring how creative movement, and being creative in general, can help with emotional literacy feelings. Lorna and Kate are working with staff to develop practitioner enquiry projects to engage with context sensitive related to the ongoing arts-based activity and data from these projects will be used to explore the impact of the intervention more generally. 

Find out more

Researchers involved: