Documenting ‘possibility thinking': a journey of collaborative enquiry

Burnard, Pamela; Craft, Anna; Cremin, Teresa; Duffy, Bernadette; Hanson, Ruth; Keene, Jean; Haynes, Lindsay and Burns, Dawn (2006). Documenting ‘possibility thinking': a journey of collaborative enquiry. International Journal of Early Years Education, 14(3) pp. 243–262.



Drawing on existing work in the area of creativity and early year’s education, this paper maps the process of an exploratory study which sought to identify what characterizes ‘possibility thinking’ as an aspect of creativity in young children’s learning. With the aim of developing a framework for identifying ‘possibility thinking’ in the contexts of three early years settings, the authors explore key tenets of a model for conceptualizing (and rethinking) ‘possibility thinking’ and attempt to reconcile some of the methodological challenges inherent in documenting this aspect of creativity in early years contexts. With the co-participation of five early years teachers as researchers, three university based researchers worked collaboratively over the three phase development of the project. With the emphasis on mapping the developing conceptualizations of ‘possibility thinking’ and the appropriateness of multimodal methods in naturalistic inquiry, the research team, explicate, and argue the need for sharing methodological approaches in researching young children’s thinking. The data arising from this research provides powerful insights into the characteristics of ‘possibility thinking’ which most successfully promote creativity and the authors conclude with a consideration of the implications for future research, practice and practitioner research in early years contexts.

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