Reconceptualising the Third Teacher: A study of trainee experiences of work-based learning on Level 3 Early Years programmes

Prof Doc Thesis

Bradbury, A. 2023. Reconceptualising the Third Teacher: A study of trainee experiences of work-based learning on Level 3 Early Years programmes. Prof Doc Thesis
AuthorsBradbury, A.
TypeProf Doc Thesis
Qualification nameDoctor of Education

There is a paucity of research exploring learning and pedagogy in the Early Years workplace. This thesis addresses that gap by exploring how learning and pedagogy are differently experienced by early years trainees pursuing a Level 3 early years apprenticeship and a full-time diploma early childhood programme. Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory provides the theoretical framework for this qualitative study, which was predicated on the belief that knowledge is gained from practice through experiences of the learner within the ecological theory model and that further development is built upon interactions within the workplace. Eight early childhood practitioners participated in the study, which adopted a case study approach and utilised a range of methods including on-line interviews, focus-groups, observations, and reflective diaries contributed by the participants.

The study illustrates how potential work-based learning opportunities are mediated by the type of learning programme pursued by trainees, also demonstrating how early childhood practitioners with a stronger learning orientation achieve higher levels of work-based competence/expertise of being an early years professional. Colleagues and supervisors' social support within practice was found to play a significant role in job competence/expertise, highlighting the need for highly trained practitioners within the area of early childhood. Related to this, the study found that the role of the ‘third teacher’, or learning within the early years workplace environment, is significant in outcomes for trainees in the Early Years sector. The informal relationships that the trainee professional makes with other colleagues is based on the findings of this research, which has given a new idea to how early years professionals are learning whilst undertaking their training courses. The thesis clearly argues that there is a change in what is meant by the third teacher and reconceptualises what it means, regarding early years work-based learning.

It concludes that there are significant differences in the work-place learning opportunities offered to trainees on different programmes, and that the importance of developing informal connections with early years colleagues provides the basis for work-based learning in Early Years training.

KeywordsEarly Years, TVET, Vocational Education, Work based learning
PublisherCollege of Arts, Humanities and Education, University of Derby
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
File Access Level
Output statusPublished
Publication process dates
Deposited05 Oct 2023
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