What’s New Early Childhood Education Research Center : National Institute for Educational Policy Research

Our Efforts

○ Research Projects

*Study on growth and learning, and the quality of the learning process from infancy (FY2017 to FY2022)

The objective of this study is to obtain basic knowledge of the significance of pre-primary and transitional period education and the impact of the quality of early childhood education and care (ECEC) on subsequent growth and learning, by conducting a longitudinal study of children over the transitional period from pre-primary to primary education.
In particular, we aim: (1) to grasp a better picture of socio-emotional skills which sustain children’s growth and learning by long-term monitoring from pre-primary to primary, and (2) to examine how to assess the quality of the learning process in early childhood education and how to utilize the assessment.
The design of the study is as follows.

(1) Questionnaire survey(targeting approximately 100 ECEC institutions, including kindergartens, nursery centers, and certified centers for ECEC)

Questionnaire survey of ECEC institutions (targeting ECEC institution directors and classroom teachers):
The questionnaire survey will ask ECEC institution directors for an overview of the ECEC institutions, the quality of the structure, the satisfactions and burdens of their jobs, leadership in the institutions, and professional training for their staff and themselves. The questionnaire survey will ask ECEC classroom teachers about the quality of the learning process in their classes, the satisfactions and burdens of their jobs, and professional training for themselves.

Questionnaire survey about children (targeting ECEC classroom teachers, primary school teachers, and parents):
The questionnaire survey will cover growth and learning of children from 3-year-olds to the second graders of primary schools. It will ask about the socio-emotional skills that sustain children’s learning and their cognitive skills. It will also ask parents about home education and home environment.

(2) Interviews (targeting only 6 institutions out of the 100 ECEC institutions)
In order to grasp the skills that sustain growth and learning (socio-emotional skills) and cognitive skills in more detail, we will conduct annual interviews with the same children covering socio-emotional skills (emotional understanding and executive functioning) and cognitive skills (Japanese language/vocabulary and numbers/shapes) at some of the ECEC institutions targeted by the questionnaire survey.

(3) Trial of the Provisional Assessment Scale for Quality of ECEC Practice in Early Childhood Education(targeting the same 6 ECEC institutions as above (2))
We will conduct a trial of the provisional scale for assessing the quality of ECEC practice in early childhood education currently under development by the ECERC for the targeted classes of children aged from 3 to 5 years old. Specifically, the study team will make one day visits to the ECEC institutions to observe and assess the ECEC practice in one class of children in the targeted age groups for around three hours in the morning and interview the classroom teachers in the afternoon. This trial is required to test the reliability and validity of the provisional assessment scale for the quality of ECEC practice in early childhood education.

*Study on Growing and Learning during the Transitional Period from Pre-primary to Primary Education and the Quality of Education and Care in Early Childhood(FY 2015-2016)

We have been working on this 2- year-study project entitled “Study on growing and learning during the transitional period from pre-primary to primary education and the quality of education and care in early childhood”. The objectives of this study are twofold.

The first focuses on the transitional period (approximately ages between second half of 5-year and first half of the Primary Grade 1) recognized globally as one of the most important period in early childhood. The objectives are to discern the implementation status of the preprimary-primary transitional curriculum across the nation and to examine effective methods that grasp the children’s developmental outcomes which sustain the learning during the transition period.

The other is to develop a set of scales for evaluating ECEC quality that can be used in teacher training at respective kindergartens, nursery or ECEC centers.To understand ECEC outcomes, it is deemed necessary to carry out longitudinal studies. As fundamental steps toward future study, we are considering the development of ECE scales to evaluate quality relevant for the context of Japan.

Panel discussion to report the outcome of this research project were held in October, 2017. Materials presented in the event and the research report of the project are posted in the Japanese page of NIER :

Relating to this project, we introduce here some preliminary findings from the analysis on preprimary-primary transitional curricula collected by municipalities nationwide.

» Study on the Curriculum during the Pre-primary to Primary Transitional Period Developed at the Municipality Level in Japan

○ OECD International ECEC-Staff Survey (2018-2020)

ECERC is joining and conducting the survey below:

○ An open Symposium celebrating the establishment of ECERC, titled "Required Researches and Trainings to Sustain the Quality of ECEC"(January, 2017)

As the year 2016, when the Center was established also fell on the 140th anniversary of Japanese early childhood education, an open symposium was held in the auditorium of MEXT on the theme of “Required Research and Training to Sustain the Quality of ECEC” celebrating the anniversary and the future of Japanese ECEC (January 16, 2017).Through the lectures and panel discussions, we reviewed 140-year history of early childhood education in Japan, and discussed ways of improving its quality.At the same time as the symposium, a poster exhibition was given in the foyer of the auditorium in collaboration with the local governments, universities, and ECEC-related organizations. 388 participants in the symposium and exhibition were mainly those involved in ECEC field, including stakeholders of kindergartens, day nurseries and centers for ECEC, municipal officials in charge of ECEC, and teachers of pre-service training institutes from all over the country.

Contact Us:youji@nier.go.jp

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