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Foundations of character: methodological aspects of a study of character development in three- to six-year-old children with a focus on sharing behaviours

Arthur, James and Powell, Sacha and Lin, Hsing-Chiung (2012) Foundations of character: methodological aspects of a study of character development in three- to six-year-old children with a focus on sharing behaviours. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal. pp. 1-18. ISSN 1350-293X

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URL of Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1350293X.2012.707413

Identification Number/DOI: doi:10.1080/1350293X.2012.707413

This article focuses on methodological issues arising in a study of character development, using illustrations of ‘sharing behaviours.’ Based primarily in six early years settings in southeast England the research records naturalistic observations of peer interactions for 55 children aged three to six years. Applying grounded theory to the processes of observing, analysing and interpreting evidence required a cautious and collectively reflective approach. The methodology sought to moderate the influence of the researchers' prior knowledge of ‘grand theories’ of moral development and assumptions about relevance to the observation records. The study's originality lay in the exploration of moral development without reference to any particular grand theory as an explanatory framework; and in the reluctance to be drawn to potentially simplistic rationalisations of the children's intentions on the basis of their observed behaviours. Exploring young children's subjective experiences, this research provides insights into the intricacy of this process, steering away from ‘neat’ findings and attempting to reflect the sophistication of the children's skilful and sometimes surprising negotiations of moral dilemmas. Implications for practice relate to the complexities involved in attempts to unravel the developing moral characters of young children and the practice through which this may be nurtured.

Type of Work:Article
Date:2012 (Publication)
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
Department:School of Education
Subjects:LB Theory and practice of education
LC Special aspects of education
Institution:University of Birmingham
Copyright Holders:Taylor and Francis
ID Code:1372
Refereed:YES
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