HE: A route to develop socio-emotional intelligence in Early Years Educators

This source preferred by Camila Devis-Rozental

Authors: Devis-Rozental, C.

The aim of this paper is to present a doctoral project looking at the support that Early Years Educators (EYE) have, to develop their Socio-emotional intelligence (SEQ) within the context of their Higher education (HE) journey. SEQ which is the ability to understand, explore and apply our emotions and social interactions in the right context, with the right person and for the right reason (Goleman 1996; 2007, Bar-On 2004; Castejon et al. 2008), are aspects that have not been widely explored within the context of students beginning their HE journey to complete a Degree in Early Years, specifically in the UK. Yet, these are important in dealing with demanding situations in HE, for example when facing a long break from education or transitions amongst other things. As these students must have worked for at least a year in a preschool/ nursery before being enrolled, this is a relevant issue (Nutbrown 2012). Furthermore, they must continue working whilst completing their qualification (Brown and Convoy 2011; Jennings and Greenberg 2009), making SEQ important to the overall environment within the context of their work practice, for instance, to model appropriate behaviour and responses when working with children and to successfully implement government initiatives such as SEAL (Social and emotional aspects of learning ) (DFE 2012). To find out how to best support these students to develop their SEQ within their HE programme, I conducted a qualitative research consisting of a pilot focus group with four EYE’s. Following this, I have started a thematic analysis consisting of exploratory semi structured interviews with up to 15 EYE’s as well as five early years lecturers, to find out their experiences and knowledge of SEQ within the context of their HE programme. Also, to explore if there are resources/ practices already in place to support these HE students’ SEQ, and if not, what could I develop to enhance their social and emotional attributes. Following the data gathering and analysis, based on the findings from the overall research project, I aim to develop an appropriate tool to support EYE’s. I will also present some speculative ideas based on theory, practice and initials findings. Lastly, I will briefly demonstrate how the outcomes from this research are transferable to other HE programmes, not necessarily early years training, as research has shown that SEQ is important for all HE students, especially students beginning their HE journey, international students and those at risk of withdrawing (Qualter et al. 2009).

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