Characteristics of professional development research in Aotearoa New Zealand's early childhood education sector

A systematic literature review




coaching, PLD, teachers' professional learning, facilitating professional learning


Teachers’ professional learning and development (PLD) is an essential component in the provision of quality education. Through objective 3.6 in the Early Learning Action Plan 2019-2029 (Ministry of Education, 2019a) the Ministry of Education has signalled a need for a managed, coherent system of PLD to support the professional learning needs of early childhood teachers in Aotearoa New Zealand. Over time, research has sought to enhance understanding of PLD in ways that can contribute to more effective PLD programmes. Yet, gaps remain between PLD research, policy and practice. Synthesising extant research is important to identify existing and cumulative knowledge, and reveal research-to-practice gaps. This article reports the results of a systematic literature review, conducted to identify characteristics of PLD research within Aotearoa New Zealand’s early childhood education sector. Fifty-six research articles and reports were systematically reviewed. Findings identify that the predominantly descriptive body of research is characterised by a convergence of researchers’ and teachers’ roles, largely positive outcomes, and a broad content focus with less attention paid to PLD processes.


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Author Biographies

Linda Clarke, Massey University

Linda Clarke (Ngai Tahu) is a senior tutor in early years education at Massey University. Linda has previously worked in a range of early childhood services, including as a teacher and mentor. Linda’s research interests and areas of expertise include teachers’ professional development, coaching, mentoring, social-emotional learning, and teaching practices that support the unique needs of toddlers.

Tara McLaughlin, Massey University

Tara McLaughlin is a senior lecturer in early years education and the founder and director of the Early Years Research Lab at Massey University. As a teacher, teacher educator, and researcher in early years, Tara is committed to supporting learning environments that promote diverse and equitable opportunities for all children and families. She maintains an active research programme related to inclusive high-quality early intervention and early childhood education.

Karyn Aspden, Massey University

Karyn Aspden is a senior lecturer in early years education at Massey University. She began her career as a teacher and leader in a range of early childhood services, before moving into initial teacher education. Her teaching and research interests include practicum, professional practice, effective teaching practice, early intervention and infant and toddler pedagogy. The importance of meaningful relationships and intentional teaching is the thread that weaves through each of these areas.

Tracy Riley, Massey University

Tracy Riley is a Professor of Education and Dean Research at Massey University. Tracy is Chair of the New Zealand Deans and Directors of Graduate Schools and Vice-President of the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children, as a specialist in the field.

Vicki Gifkins, Massey University

Vicki Gifkins is an Early Years tutor, research coordinator, and post-graduate student at Massey University. She has experience teaching in a range of early childhood services including childcare, kindergarten, home-based and playcentre settings. Vicki's research interests include intentional teaching with a social justice and gender equity lens.


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