Developing socio-emotional intelligence in early years scholars.
This doctoral thesis aimed to explore socio-emotional intelligence within the context of Higher Education, in order to inform the creation of a learning development tool. It specifically explored how Early Years students studying a Foundation Degree (Fda) in Early Years, developed their socio-emotional intelligence whilst completing this Higher Education programme. In order to achieve this, fourteen qualitative interviews with ten Early Years students and four Early Years lecturers who were or had been involved with the programme, were undertaken. Findings from these interviews created by carrying out a thematic analysis, suggested that although these students had an understanding of socio-emotional intelligence, there was a need for further development as there were some misunderstanding and in some cases difficulty in relating socio-emotional intelligence to their own experience. To clarify some of these issues, within this thesis there is a developed definition of socio-emotional intelligence which takes into account relevant theory as well as findings from this doctoral programme.
Within the interviews it was also identified that there was a need to provide a space without time constrictions for these students to reflect on their own socio-emotional intelligence and that the environment in which learning takes place can affect how these students develop some areas of their socio-emotional intelligence. Additionally, the most significant finding from this doctoral programme, was that an Early Years lecturer knowledgeable in socio-emotional intelligence and able to model it and apply it in their practice, was significant to the socio-emotional development of these students.
Based on these findings and also taking into account the preferred type of development support that was needed, a blog called the socio-emotional scholar was developed. This blog aims to create a learning community of students and lecturers (academics) where areas of socio-emotional intelligence are explored and resources are shared, developed and created with the purpose of continuing developing socio-emotional intelligence for both of these types of scholars and others that may be interested in the subject and the blog.