UNESCO-NIE Centre for Arts Research in Education (CARE)

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Name of Author: 
Narayanasamy Pushpavalli
Thesis (M.Ed.) National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University
Green, Nicole
Year of completion: 
Country of Research Data: 

This research investigated the use of picture books as a pedagogical strategy to facilitate four year olds' thinking skills in a Singapore preschool. Thinking skills was defined as creative thinking, problem solving and critical thinking (Fisher 2005). The teacher-researcher's acquisition of pedagogical skills while developing into a reflective practitioner was also explored. Participatory action research guided the study and data were collected through observations, interviews and drawings with children, research journal entries and focus group interviews with preschool teaching staff. Using socio-cultural theory as a central idea, I asked if interactions in shared activities and conversations between teacher and children and among children could promote thinking skills. Findings indicated that four year olds do experience thinking skills supported through the pedagogical strategy of picture books and that children scaffolded each other by cheating or extending on each other's ideas. As opportunities to experience thinking increased, children's self-esteem and self-perception as effective thinkers improved and children became more willing to express their ideas. It is proposed that this is because children had opportunities to utilize symbolic tools (speech, gestures, drawings or a combination of these) for expression and that the environment had become more conducive for thinking and vocalization of thoughts. Further analysis also indicated that as the teacher documented, shared and reflected upon personal practices, she becomes aware of the inconsistencies between her beliefs and how these were reflected in the teaching and learning practices. Self-reflection became a vital tool for personal professional development. In addition, the teachers working collaboratively in focus groups in their learning community became committed to the findings and thus advocators of change in practices. It is intended that the research will provide a better understanding of how children's thinking skills can be stimulated and as teachers become reflective practitioners they become the impetus for a change in pedagogy. This research is also intended to add to the body of knowledge in this field. The culminating reflections include questions for further research inquiries, curriculum conversations, and classroom and school practices.

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