Effective Teaching and Their Effects on Early Childhood Development: A Comparative, Longitudinal, Mixed-method Study of Hong Kong and Finnish Kindergartens

    Project: Research project

    Project Details


    Despite abundant research on early childhood education, the features and results of effective teaching in early childhood education are inconclusive. This study will adopt an educational effectiveness framework to explore factors at the classroom, school and system levels, but with a focus on the classroom. Situating the research in two very different social and cultural contexts, Hong Kong with a common teacher-directed, academic-focused pedagogy and Finland with a standard child-initiated, play-based pedagogy, this study aims to examine the impact of effective teaching of contrastive pedagogical practices on children’s different learning outcomes (e.g., pre-academic learning vs self-regulation). As teaching effects on children are gradual, without the knowledge of children learning from their entry to exit at kindergartens, understanding how different varied teaching qualities and paths can affect learning outcomes is impossible. We theorise that teacher-child interaction quality, rather than specific pedagogy, benefits children more. Pedagogies have differential benefits on different specific learning outcomes. Thus, in Finland there will be more plays than instructions to support socialisation with peers, more free than teacher-guided plays to promote self-exploration, and more one-to-one than one-to-many teacher-child interactions to obtain individualised feedback from teachers. All these might help Finnish children to develop stronger self-regulation, self-awareness and better self-care. In contrast, if Hong Kong teachers are supportive and able to make reading and counting activities more closely connected to the primary school curriculum with unambiguous seatwork set with a cognitive challenge that children find interesting, then children are prepared better for primary education. This mixed-method study will characterise the impact of effective teaching from 808 children and 444 teachers from 74 kindergartens in Hong Kong and Finland. Kindergartens will be purposively selected for comparing the role of contrastive pedagogies. For generating reliable measures, two researchers will visit kindergartens twice in each school term to concurrently conduct one teaching observation, focusing on effective features of effective teaching in teacher-child interactions and two 20-minute observations on the class involvement of each participating child. Learning outcomes, including self-regulation, class involvement, social orientation, personal, social and self-care, and pre-academic learning will be assessed annually. Interviews of two highly effective teachers and their colleagues will be used to explore how contextual and school factors facilitate effective teaching. Multilevel and structural equational models and interviews will be analysed initially separately and then synthesised to test hypotheses. The timely findings will inform policymakers and practitioners the differential significance of effective teaching on child development.

    Funding Source: RGC - General Research Fund (GRF)
    Effective start/end date01/01/1931/12/21


    • effective teaching, teacher-child interaction, child development, mixed-method, longitudinal study


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