But Where is the Child? Using Digital Documentation in Pedagogical Practice with Parents and Practitioners

Amanda Crow

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter elaborates the potential of a phenomenographic methodological approach for understanding pedagogical practices in early childhood education (ECE). Within this framework, digital pedagogical documentation (comprising of photographs, videos and observations of children) are explored through a conversational interview as a means of understanding how early childhood practitioners and parents see the child and childhood. The method offers the potential to explore how parents and ECE practitioners ‘see’ the world through children’s eyes. Phenomenography is an under-explored methodology in ECE, and it is offered as a way to develop pedagogical practice and reinforce collaborative relationships through shared experiences (Marton, 1988).
An interpretive framework is presented through which to consider the potential of the phenomenographic method and to enable a richer understanding of pedagogy. Within this framework, pedagogical documentation in digital format is used as a prompt to provoke conversation, thus enabling practitioners and parents to work collaboratively and engage in shared discussion about the everyday experiences of children. The method is therefore twofold, using the digital documentation as a visual tool to explore shared meanings through a conversational, phenomenographic interview.
The chapter begins by discussing the theoretical origins of pedagogical practice and the development and uses of documentation in ECE. The rationale for using phenomenography is explored, and examples from the authors’ research in an English preschool are presented to illustrate the way in which the method can be used to highlight the dilemmas surrounding research on and with children. Although the children were not active participants in the research, their visibility – albeit interpreted by the adults – was clearly evident. The chapter explores a number of ethical dilemmas that can occur when using the method, influenced by political policy, the nature of power and the consideration of researcher positionality. Finally, the chapter concludes with suggestions to inform future research involving children and families.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSeeing the World through Children's Eyes
Subtitle of host publicationVisual Methodologies and Approaches to Research in the Early Years
EditorsE. Jayne White
PublisherBrill Academic Publishers
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9789004433328
ISBN (Print)9789004433311, 9789004433304
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jun 2020

Publication series

NameVisual Pedagogies, Methodologies, and Educational Research
PublisherBrill Academic Publishers
ISSN (Print)2665-9034


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