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Early Second Language Learners, Staff Responsiveness and Child Engagement in the Swedish Preschool Context in Relation to Child Behaviour Characteristics and Staffing
Mälardalens universitet, Akademin för hälsa, vård och välfärd, Hälsa och välfärd.ORCID-id: 0000-0002-3037-7568
Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden.
CHILD Research Group, School of Learning and Communication, Jönköping University, Jönköping, Sweden.
CHILD Research Group, School of Health and Welfare, Jönköping University, Jönköping, Sweden.
Vise andre og tillknytning
2021 (engelsk)Inngår i: Frontiers in Education, E-ISSN 2504-284X, Vol. 6Artikkel i tidsskrift (Fagfellevurdert) Published
sted, utgiver, år, opplag, sider
2021. Vol. 6
HSV kategori
Forskningsprogram
arbetslivsvetenskap
Identifikatorer
URN: urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-65669DOI: 10.3389/feduc.2021.627581ISI: 000703449400001Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85116450624OAI: oai:DiVA.org:mdh-65669DiVA, id: diva2:1830783
Forskningsfinansiär
Forte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and WelfareTilgjengelig fra: 2024-01-23 Laget: 2024-01-23 Sist oppdatert: 2024-04-09bibliografisk kontrollert
Inngår i avhandling
1. Preschool staff’s working conditions and professional well-being in contexts with high proportions of early second language learners
Åpne denne publikasjonen i ny fane eller vindu >>Preschool staff’s working conditions and professional well-being in contexts with high proportions of early second language learners
2024 (engelsk)Doktoravhandling, med artikler (Annet vitenskapelig)
Abstract [en]

This thesis explored the working conditions and professional well-being of preschool staff in Sweden, particularly in settings with a high proportion of early second language learners (L2 learners). The thesis is timely and significant, considering the growing diversity in Swedish preschools and the increasing presence of L2 learners. The research problem is rooted in the unique societal mission of preschool staff, who are pivotal in introducing young children to the Swedish education system and fostering their development and care. They also have a compensatory mission to support children who have less favourable conditions than other children. However, there are indications that the preschool staff are working in a vulnerable context. Preschool staff are among the occupational groups in Sweden exhibiting among the highest frequency of sick leave and are characterized by a significant staff turnover. The preschool staff has also experienced changes within their organisation.  Concurrently, it remains unknown how working in groups with a high proportion of L2 learners (L2 groups) affects the preschool staff. The thesis aimed to understand the specific working conditions in L2 groups and how these conditions impact the professional well-being of preschool staff, defined as the perception of doing a professional and correct job, which included adhering to the curriculum and maintaining positive relationships with children, organisational commitment, and job satisfaction.

The theoretical framework that guided this research was the bioecological systems theory and the Job Demands-Resources (JD-R) model. This framework helped to understand the overall social interactions and working context of the preschool staff, as well as to categorise and define psychosocial working conditions. It emphasises the interplay between job demands, job resources, and professional well-being. The thesis adopted an exploratory sequential design, initially employing mainly qualitative inductive interviews (Study I and II) to map the uncharted territory of the preschool working context, its social interactions, and working conditions in L2 groups. This was followed by a deductive, analytical phase using questionnaires in cross-sectional studies (Study III and IV).

Study I adopted an exploratory sequential mixed-methods design. It explored the preschool staff’s support of children’s engagement in L2 groups, combining qualitative content analysis and independent T-tests. In individual interactions with children, the preschool staff aimed to establish closeness and acknowledge each child's presence. In these respects, no notable differences were observed among preschool staff across different groups. However, disparities emerged in group interactions with children. Preschool staff working in L2 groups encountered challenges in managing routines, imparting values, and facilitating peer learning among children.

Study II focused on preschool staff's experiences of their working conditions in L2 groups, utilising qualitative content analysis based on interviews. Preschool staff working in L2 groups encountered a context that was more complex and challenging compared to their counterparts in L1-groups. This increased complexity primarily stemmed from a lack of adequate organisational resources, difficulties in establishing professional relationships, and constrained opportunities to effectively utilize their educational background and work-life experience. These layers of complexity were experienced to challenge their professional well-being.

Study III utilised a cross-sectional design. It used Structural Equation Modelling (SEM) to examine preschool staff responsiveness and child engagement in relation to child behaviour difficulties and staffing. Behavioural difficulties and lower levels of engagement, characteristics associated with L2 children, were found to be negatively associated with the responsiveness of the preschool staff. Conversely, the responsiveness of the preschool staff exhibited a positive association with child engagement.

Study IV was a cross-sectional questionnaire study. It employed random forests, and quasi-Poisson regression analysis to identify which working conditions predicted preschool staff’s professional well-being in L2 groups. The study extended the analysis from the qualitative phase to a quantitatively analysed context. It was predominantly the job resources, particularly the support from the preschool staff’s principal and colleagues, that most confidently predicted professional well-being. In contrast, job demands such as role conflicts and quantitative demands were less significant predictors. Additionally, individual factors, including formal education and work-life experience, did not significantly predict professional well-being. Likewise, structural factors such as the proportion of L2 learners also did not predict professional well-being.

The findings of these studies highlight the complexity of working conditions in L2 groups and their relationship to professional well-being. They suggest that professional well-being is influenced by a balance of job demands and resources, the quality of relationships with children and their caregivers, and the ability to navigate organisational changes and diversity management effectively. The thesis underscores the need for policy and practice changes to support preschool staff in L2 groups, including enhanced formal education in diversity management, and increased organisational support to reduce job demands and bolster job resources. The proportion of L2 learners itself was not a significant predictor of professional well-being in any study, however. In conclusion, this thesis contributes to a deeper understanding of the unique challenges faced by preschool staff in L2 groups and offers insights for enhancing their professional well-being, which is crucial for the quality of early childhood education and care in multicultural settings.

sted, utgiver, år, opplag, sider
Västerås: Mälardalens universitet, 2024
Serie
Mälardalen University Press Dissertations, ISSN 1651-4238 ; 401
HSV kategori
Forskningsprogram
arbetslivsvetenskap
Identifikatorer
urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-65672 (URN)978-91-7485-631-6 (ISBN)
Disputas
2024-03-22, Gamma och digitalt via Zoom, Mälardalens universitet, Västerås, 13:15 (svensk)
Opponent
Veileder
Forskningsfinansiär
Forte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and WelfareMälardalen University
Tilgjengelig fra: 2024-01-25 Laget: 2024-01-23 Sist oppdatert: 2024-03-22bibliografisk kontrollert

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