Professionalism in early childhood education and care using the example of childcare services for zero to three-year-olds in South Tyrol
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The project NuTre aims to develop a framework for ECEC that will be applicable throughout South Tyrol. The research project will develop instruments for the internal and external evaluation of ECEC services. Debates on the quality of ECEC have been going on for 25 years (Tietze, 2004) and have produced results in South Tyrol, such as the framework for kindergartens, basedon research by Fthenakis (2008). The interest in ECEC research stems from the importance of early childhood for the entire educational biography (Ingleby, 2013). Previous research has investigated the quality of ECEC from the child’sperspective (Nentwig-Gesemann/Walther/Thedinga, 2017) and studied professional action in child care (DJI, 2018). The theoretical underpinning is informed by the works of Cloos and Nentwig-Gesemann on quality and professionalism in early childhood settings. Further concepts will emerge throughout the ethnographic process. Based on a constructivist paradigm, the research methodology is rooted in ethnographyand grounded theory. Data collection methods include participant observation, qualitative interviews and focus groups. The researchers have received ethical approval from their university. Concerns involve the vulnerable age of children involved, which isovercome through the non-invasive nature of participant observation that is interested in professional action, rather than the children and their behaviour. The data gives us the opportunity to compareprofessional developments in ECEC with former developments in primary education in the field of professionalism and quality in South Tyrol, Italy and Europe. The findings will contribute to the further development of quality and professionalism in ECECpolicy and practice.