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EDUC311 Contemporary Understandings of Young Children as Learners

Advanced investigation into the issues and contexts that both enhance and constrain the learning of young children in educational settings.

Have you ever wondered how and why diversity should be recognised and celebrated in early childhood education? Or perhaps you've wondered how children's rights and agency can actually be promoted through their education engagement? Are you curious about how societies and cultures construct their ideas about learning, curriculum and assessment?

In this paper you will engage in cooperative learning experiences with others to investigate and make meaning of the contested terrain of young children's learning and explore how various issues and contexts enhance and constrain the learning of young children in their earliest years.

Paper title Contemporary Understandings of Young Children as Learners
Paper code EDUC311
Subject Education
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period(s) Semester 1 (On campus)
Semester 1 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $912.00
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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One 200-level EDUC or SOCI paper
Schedule C
Arts and Music

Professor Alex Gunn:

Teaching staff

Paper Co-ordinator: Professor Alex Gunn (Dunedin)
Other staff:
Meredith Kelly (Southland)

Paper Structure

Diversity, inclusion and changing participation in early years settings:

  • Theorising difference, diversity and inclusion
  • A learning community approach
  • Pedagogical responses to difference and diversity

Rights and Citizenship:

  • National and international responses to children's rights and citizenship
  • Rights and citizenship within early years settings
  • Upholding rights and practising citizenship: successes and challenges for thinking and practice
  • Learning, development and assessment: debating perspectives in the early years
  • Contested perspectives on learning, development and assessment
  • Critical questions of contemporary theories and practices in learning, development and assessment
  • Researching learning, development and assessment

Transitions - shifting terrains:

  • Curriculum continuities and discontinuities
  • Changing conceptions of knowledge and moves towards testing
Teaching Arrangements

In 2023 the paper will be delivered online and via Blackboard with students from Dunedin and Invercargill campuses together.  Lectures are to be watched by students prior to online workshops. Synchronous classes at the specified timetable times is expected.

Required Text:
Carr, M. & Lee, W. (2012). Learning stories: Constructing learner identities in early childhood education. Los Angeles: Sage.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Interdisciplinary perspective, Scholarship, Critical thinking, Ethics, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation, Teamwork.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this paper will:

  • Gain understandings of current literature and debates on children's rights and citizenship and what this might mean for educational settings
  • Investigate concepts of diversity and inclusion as educational issues for young children
  • Appraise and consider the wider politics of assessment practices and purposes in education
  • Gain knowledge and understanding of contestable theories and thinking about children's learning

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Semester 1

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Thursday 09:00-11:50 9-14, 16-21

Semester 1

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Thursday 09:00-10:50 9-14, 16-21
Thursday 11:00-11:50 9-14, 16-21