In recent years, the issue of early childhood staff professionalisation has been taking an increasingly prominent position in policy-making and academic debates at the international level. Despite this growing interest, studies investigating the content and delivery of professional preparation programmes for early childhood practitioners are still quite rare in european literature. Against this background, the article will describe and critically analyse the characterising features of the university degree for the professional preparation of pre-school teachers in Italy, with a special focus on workplace-based training. In particular, the theoretical underpinnings and shared understandings related to the implementation of mentoring practices within the university course will be explored by drawing on the data collected from documentary sources and interviews with local experts. Findings highlight that the main strengths of mentoring practices within such a programme are: (a) the extended placement periods in early childhood education and care (ECEC) settings which allow prospective teachers to live the culture of practice; (b) the critically reflective component of tutoring practices, which combines theoretical and experiential learning; (c) the strong partnerships built at the local level between ECEC services and universities, which generates reciprocal influences between academic research and educational practices and thus sustains pedagogical innovation. At the same time, the fact that the mentoring role of placement tutors in ECEC institutions is not adequately supported in terms of competence development and workload allocation might potentially undermine the benefits of workplace-based training for students. In addition, the contextualisation of our analysis within the broader landscape of national policy developments in the field of ECEC staff professionalisation revealed that the increased academisation of pre-school teachers professional preparation might lead – in the long term – to a risk of ‘schoolification’ of pedagogical practices enacted within ECEC services. In regards to these issues, the article will raise questions for further consideration and debate.

In recent years, the issue of early childhood staff professionalization is taking an increasingly prominent position in policy-making and academic debates at international level. Despite this growing interest, the studies investigating the content and delivery of professional preparation programmes for early childhood practitioners are still quite rare in European literature. Against this background, the article will describe and critically analyse the characterising features of the university degree for the professional preparation of pre-school teachers in Italy, with a special focus on workplace based training. In particular, the theoretical underpinnings and shared understandings related to the implementation of mentoring practices within the university course will be explored by drawing on the data collected from documentary sources and interviews with local experts. Findings highlight that the main strengths of mentoring practices within such programme are: a) the extended placement periods in ECEC settings which allow prospective teachers to make the culture of practice theirs; b) the critically reflective component of tutoring practices which combine theoretical and experiential learning; c) the strong partnership built at local level between ECEC services and universities which originates reciprocal influences between academic research and educational practices and sustains pedagogical innovation. At the same time, the fact that the mentoring role of placement tutors in ECEC institutions is not adequately supported in terms of competence development and workload allocation might potentially undermine the benefits of workplace based training for students. In addition, the contextualisation of our analysis within the broader landscape of national policy developments in the field of ECEC staff professionalization, revealed that the increased academisation of pre-school teachers professional preparation might lead - on the long term – to the risk of schoolification of pedagogical practices enacted within ECEC services.

Mentoring practices in workplace-based professional preparation: a critical analysis of policy developments in the Italian context

BALDUZZI, LUCIA;LAZZARI, ARIANNA
2015

Abstract

In recent years, the issue of early childhood staff professionalization is taking an increasingly prominent position in policy-making and academic debates at international level. Despite this growing interest, the studies investigating the content and delivery of professional preparation programmes for early childhood practitioners are still quite rare in European literature. Against this background, the article will describe and critically analyse the characterising features of the university degree for the professional preparation of pre-school teachers in Italy, with a special focus on workplace based training. In particular, the theoretical underpinnings and shared understandings related to the implementation of mentoring practices within the university course will be explored by drawing on the data collected from documentary sources and interviews with local experts. Findings highlight that the main strengths of mentoring practices within such programme are: a) the extended placement periods in ECEC settings which allow prospective teachers to make the culture of practice theirs; b) the critically reflective component of tutoring practices which combine theoretical and experiential learning; c) the strong partnership built at local level between ECEC services and universities which originates reciprocal influences between academic research and educational practices and sustains pedagogical innovation. At the same time, the fact that the mentoring role of placement tutors in ECEC institutions is not adequately supported in terms of competence development and workload allocation might potentially undermine the benefits of workplace based training for students. In addition, the contextualisation of our analysis within the broader landscape of national policy developments in the field of ECEC staff professionalization, revealed that the increased academisation of pre-school teachers professional preparation might lead - on the long term – to the risk of schoolification of pedagogical practices enacted within ECEC services.
2015
Lucia Balduzzi; Arianna Lazzari
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11585/488968
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