Traditionally, BECE students highlight their research findings for peers, faculty and staff through poster presentations. However, due to COVID-19 related restrictions, students have instead recorded their presentations to be shared online this year, making them available to the wider early childhood education (ECE) community for the first time.
“The BECE research projects are a wonderful exhibition of students’ capacities, skills and knowledge,” said Debra Harwood, Professor in the Faculty of Education and BECE Program Director. “By sharing the research symposium online, I hope the ECE community views BECE students as an asset both in terms of contributing knowledge to the field and as potential research partner collaborators.”
Many ECE agencies lack the capacity to conduct their own research, Harwood said. Students have collaborated with agencies in the past on research projects that otherwise likely would have not come to fruition.
Harwood was inspired to organize the symposium after seeing videos created by students to propose their thesis research plans. By completing their projects and producing video presentations, students have learned how to translate research into meaningful information and practical suggestions for the field of ECE, she said.
“I gained professional knowledge and communication skills while creating my video,” said fourth-year BECE student Gabriella Pucci. “I had to review and reflect upon ECE ethics and standards of practice as well as speak with appropriate volume and vocabulary to ensure the details of my research were respectful and accessible to others.”
Topics covered by participating students are diverse, so any ECE professional should find an area of interest to explore when visiting the online symposium. Students have examined topics related to online teaching, burnout, literacy, toys and inclusion, with some research also exploring the impact of COVID-19 on the ECE field.
Pucci’s research thesis explores preschool ECE perceptions and practices of mindfulness within early years contexts.
“My research study supported the general literature stating educators who practice mindfulness have greater competency to support children’s well-being and build supportive learning environments,” she said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made for a challenging year for most people. For some of the student researchers, the pandemic’s impact was evident in what they found in terms of educators’ practices, and children’s and families’ experiences.
To meet the needs of ECE professionals, who are often balancing work, school and family commitments, Brock’s BECE program will move online permanently this fall.