Stivaros, H. (2007) An ecological perspective of children's school experiences and educational outcome. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

An exploration of schooling practices over the nineteenth and twentieth
centuries reveals a number of ‘fixed characteristics.’ These continue to have a
principle role in the organisation of schooling today and are underpinned by
assumptions stemming from traditional psychological theory. Most prominent is
the transmission-receiver model associated with behaviourism. This provides a
simplistic view of the learning process, locating performance in the individual
child or teacher. In this work, learning is re-conceptualised as experience and
in doing so, any understanding is rendered much more complex than previously
acknowledged. It becomes a wider phenomenon, distributed across agent,
activity and world. Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological model of human
development is used to elucidate this notion. To enrich the analytical power of
this model, additional perspectives have been integrated to further explore the
complex web of proximal, distal and environmental influences serving to shape
children’s quotidian learning experiences and development; specifically, notions
of metacognition and self-efficacy, Vygotskian psychology and the community
of practice literature. In unison, these theoretical lenses seek to provide an
explanation for learning on multiple levels: the role of the learner, the intricate
mechanisms of the learning process itself and the wider conditions that
surround learning.
Immersed in the primary school context, the researcher adopted the dual role of
researcher and teaching assistant, carrying out ethnographic research over two
school terms. Following the day-to-day lives of eight children in Year 6, the
research records a multiplicity of factors impacting upon their learning
experiences at school. The children’s time in Year 6 is presented in story form
and structured using the theories noted above. The research illuminates that
the constellation of factors operating in the child’s world is unique to him or her.
These combine in idiosyncratic and non-predictable ways with the child’s own
repertoire of characteristics, resulting in a different learning trajectory for every
child. However, analysis indicates that relationships and participation play a
fundamental role in all learning journeys. Recommendations for managing
children’s experiences based on this understanding are discussed.


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Appendix 4.Y Class Handouts

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Appendix 4.Z Children's work samples and teacher's comments

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