A study of peer activity in the early years through a range of contextual frameworks

Bibby, Helen (2012). A study of peer activity in the early years through a range of contextual frameworks. EdD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000c004


This report focuses on exploring peer activity in the early years through a range of contextual frameworks. The research is conducted within a children's centre that provides nursery education for children aged 3-4 years as defined by the Early Years Foundation Stage - EYFS (2007).

Research rationale focuses on the notion of, 'reflexive co-construction' through 'sustained shared thinking' (Siraj-Blatchford, 2002, p10). In order to appreciate this concept more fully among peers, it is suggested that a robust pedagogy is required to enhance the practitioner's understanding of peer activity.

It is argued that context and peer activity are inextricably linked. If we are to consider peer activity, then its relationship with context must be more fully studied and articulated than in previous discussions. From a socio-constructivist standpoint, the study applies four different, but complementary theoretical perspectives to more fully describe and analyse the social realities children encounter on a daily basis. These perspectives are, an ecological understanding of human development, distributed cognition, activity theory and situated action.

Peer literature in the early years is both varied and confusing in terms of context and outcome. Because of this predicament, it is suggested that there is an opening for studying peer activity from a contextual viewpoint.

The research applies a qualitative ethnographic and observational approach. Data is generated from documentation, observations of, and discussions with, children and staff and is analysed within the four identified theoretical perspectives. The application of distributed cognition, activity theory and situated action further illuminates how children use a range of strategies to engage with one another. The research argues that such interactions within differing contexts create unique opportunities for reflexive co-construction amongst the children themselves. What emerges from this work is a pedagogical model, relating to peers and 'reflexive co-construction', which provides another dimension to current early years educational documentation.

Viewing alternatives

Download history


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions