Investigating Quality PDF Print E-mail

investigating quality logoThe Investigating Quality (IQ) Project is led by a team of researchers based at the Unit for Early Years Research and Development, School of Child and Youth Care, University of Victoria. The team works with early childhood educators, college and university instructors, government officials, and policy-makers to broaden and deepen discussions on quality in the field of Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE).

Our Perspective on Quality

Within North America, the primary strategy for promoting quality is through regulations that set minimum standards for group size, adult-child ratios, training levels of caregivers, as well as best practices that promote developmental outcomes, literacy, numeracy, and school preparedness in young children. Quality improvement approaches have tended to focus on the development and use of measurements and instruments to determine these minimum levels of quality.

The IQ Project's goal is to deepen and broaden this view of quality. We situate ourselves within the growing number of research approaches that see quality as emerging from diverse pedagogical, social, and cultural factors that interact within specific contexts. We believe that for quality to take on depth, meaning and purpose, processes of engagement, discussion, and interaction are critical in shaping positive caregiving environments and practices.

We see early childhood settings as spaces for children, families, community, and educators to engage and interact, opening up possibilities for levels of program quality that are much more dynamic than those achievable through a minimum standards approach. The work of the well-known programs in Reggio Emilia are based on such a process as are innovative programs in Sweden, New Zealand, and other locations world-wide. This contextual, interactive approach opens up to local voices, celebrates diversity, provides encouragement to families and community members to participate meaningfully in the lives of children, and nurtures a democratic process at the earliest age of citizenship.

What We Do

We promote the active engagement of early childhood educators, college and university instructors, researchers, and policy-makers in critical reflections on quality. We believe the mobilization of these dialogues will lead to the formation of enriching and innovative spaces for children in ECCE settings.

In 2006, we began a collaborative process of critical reflection on quality with early childhood educators through a series of learning and sharing circles. The first phase of the learning and sharing circles was piloted in Vancouver and Southern Vancouver Island and has since been extended to other communities in B.C. The learning and sharing circles allow the creation of innovative ECCE programs in participating communities, support networking and dialogue among early childhood educators, allow diverse approaches to sustainable quality settings, and build capacity for the development of creative practices to support young children and families.

Community Early Learning and Child Care Facilitators Pilot Program

In October 2011, the Unit for Early Years Research and Development launched the Community Early Learning and Child Care Facilitators Pilot Project. This pilot project draws on the foundation created by earlier phases of the IQ Project. As in these earllier stages, participating early childhood educators attend monthly learning circles, where they critically reflect on their practice through pedagogical documentations, discuss recent theoretical perspectives in the the field, and learn about innovative ways to transform the early years environment.

A new feature in the pilot project is the creation of the Community Early Learning and Child Care Facilitator position. Facilitators play a role similar to that of pedagogistas in the centres of Reggio Emilia: immersing themselves in the centres, supporting the educators' efforts to engage with children and families in innovative ways, and extending the practice of the educators and the children by introducing new ideas, materials, and media, often with the assistance of an artist, or atelierista. The ongoing visits of the Community Facilitator provide for a richer, deeper exploration of the perspectives introduced in the IQ project, and also create stronger links between participating educators at the community level.

The pilot project is currently based in two communities: Victoria (Vancouver Island) and Coquitlam (Lower Mainland). In future, we hope to extend the model to more BC communities.

For information on current and past events relating to the IQ Project, or to view publications and reports relating to the project, view the booklet on the Investigating Quality Project, or click on the links on the top menu.