Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (College of Education)

Schools and Centres


First Supervisor

Dr Cynthia a'Beckett

Second Supervisor

Dr Linda Bellen


This qualitative study explores four early childhood teachers’ perceptions of group size in an Australian early childhood long day care education and care setting. This study draws on the theory of change to establish its aim, which is to identify the impact a change in group size had on these teachers’ perceptions. Issues pertaining to the teachers’ perception of the child and their perception of their roles as teachers are explored through a phenomenological case study approach. The contemporary theoretical perspectives of Erica Burman, Lillian Katz, Nel Noddings and Max van Manen provide theoretical propositions (predetermined themes) to examine the research findings that focus on the participants’ perceptions of child and teacher. The contemporary theoretical perspectives of Gunilla Dahlberg, Perter Moss and Carlina Rinaldi provide rich and varied theoretical propositions to examine findings that focus on socio-political and personal influences. The study methodology of a phenomenological case study approach combines initial interviews, email conversations and document analysis as the key data sources. A major finding of this research is that smaller group sizes provide more meaningful learning environments where the children are valued and supported, and the teachers are enabled to be more collaborative with one another.

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