Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Early Childhood Education Students' Experiences of Engaging with Academic Text

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posted on 2021-11-12, 14:07 authored by Blass, Lacey

Academic text is viewed in most university environments as a tool for supporting student learning which generates knowledge, skills and the capacity to critique ideas. Yet there is little research undertaken to understand early childhood education (ECE) students’ experiences and beliefs of engaging with academic text. Therefore, in order to understand this specific group of students’ text engagement practices and beliefs, this ethnographic research followed a group of ten third-year ECE students at Victoria University in Wellington New Zealand through one course of their undergraduate study. The researcher collected data using ethnographic methods (including a non-traditional visual participatory method of identity portfolio collages) to identify patterns which help understand students’ beliefs and experiences of engaging with academic text. Based on social learning theories, the research examined the influence of student identity and cultural context on their motivation and interest in engaging with academic text. The study found that while this group of ECE students reported valuing academic text for a number of reasons, they were most likely to engage with assigned text for assessment purposes. The prevalent use of a surface learning approach, skim reading, when reading academic text also left students feeling frustrated with the reading they completed during their programme. Group expectations of reading mainly for assessment and a lack of text engagement by practicing teachers they encountered also encouraged these students, who hold positive reader identities, to limit their engagement with academic text. The results from this study indicate that students and educators can examine ways to increase student motivation to engage deeply with academic text on a more regular basis for students to achieve deeper and more meaningful learning experiences.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

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Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Education

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Educational Psychology and Pedagogy


Bourke, Roseanna; Gilbert, Amanda