A Self-study of Listening to Student Voice in two University Early Childhood Degree Programs

Victoria Whitington

Abstract


Early childhood educators' own experiences of being listened to and of developing their own voice is likely to give them insight into what it means to be a listener in professional practice. Universities, students and staff can learn much from incorporating processes to encourage pre-service teaching students to engage in dialogue with lecturers and their peers about learning and teaching in a way that contributes to the program, while building student and staff capacity (Martin & Russell 2005).
Using a self-study approach (Russell 1998), the author described and interrogated her journey as a listening educator, and the processes she and other staff teaching in early childhood programs used to engage students in dialogue about their programs. Key ideas from relevant literature were used in this process (Clark 2005; Freire 1975; Moss 2008; Rinaldi 2006). The aim of the study was to investigate the author's own practices of listening to student voices to inform her teaching, building a foundation for personal, professional and program improvement. Four challenges are identified: considering power relations, understanding the terms listening and voice, handling the content of feedback, and making the process dialogic. Ideas are proposed for improving the feedback processes using participatory methods (Searle 2010).

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