Beginning Our Play Journey: A comparison of adult-led and child-initiated learning in the Primary One classroom

Created on: 13 Jan 2022


Beginning Our Play Journey:  A comparison of adult-led and child-initiated learning in the Primary One classroom.

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Author 
Beverley Lamont

Originating Organisation or Projects
EIS Action Research Grants 2020-21

Abstract

My initial aim was to carry out a piece of comparative research:  Direct instruction versus a play-based approach in an area of Early Level Numeracy or Literacy.  The question was asked:  How can you be certain that play is making the change?  This led me to consider the quantitative and qualitative data that could be collected to allow for a meaningful comparison to be made between adult-led and child-initiated learning.

The research was conducted primarily through a series of observations involving 12 children who were selected at random with an equal gender balance.  Observations were carried out using the Leuven Scale of Engagement and Wellbeing.  Pupils were observed during adult-led and adult-initiated learning and scored using the Leuven Scale.  Pupils were observed for a longer period during child-initiated learning where narrative observations were recorded, and the child was scored using the Leuven Scale.  

Overall, the data showed an increase in levels of wellbeing and involvement during the adult-initiated learning with a subsequent increase during child-initiated learning.  Through adult-led activities we can introduce children to new ideas and provide opportunities to develop skills and knowledge however it is evident that children must then be given the opportunity to explore their own ideas, play with different resources, investigate their environment and be creative.  These experiences allow children to develop a deeper understanding of the world around them.

How can I use this resource?

Findings in this project may inform policy and pedagogical choices regarding play based learning in various contexts. Although with its limitations, the data gathered supports the use of play as a context for meaningful learning and this research project will be used to support the next steps of our play journey.  Within the curriculum context, it is important to look carefully at the children in our own unique setting and decide what is appropriate and meaningful to them (Ephgrave, 2017).  Supporting children’s learning and development through play involves constant reflection on practice and an ever-evolving pedagogy.