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Module Specifications..

Current Academic Year 2023 - 2024

Please note that this information is subject to change.

Module Title Foundations in Education & Early Childhood Ed
Module Code ED8033
School 77
Module Co-ordinatorSemester 1: Fiona Giblin
Semester 2: Fiona Giblin
Autumn: Fiona Giblin
Module TeachersFiona Giblin
NFQ level 10 Credit Rating 5
Pre-requisite None
Co-requisite None
Compatibles None
Incompatibles None
Coursework Only
Autumn assessment

The aim of this module is to develop students' systematic understanding of knowledge related to children and childhoods in diverse learning contexts and critique the implications of such childhood experiences for development and early learning. This interdisciplinary module which includes early childhood education, philosophy and psychology of education provides varying perspectives on how children and childhood have been constructed and contextualised over time. There is a focus on key philosophical theorists in education, from Plato and Rousseau through to contemporary theorists such as Freire, Matthews, Dunne and Badiou and students reflect on this philosophical legacy in current educational practice. Students’ emerging understanding of children's intellectual, social and emotional development is developed through critical awareness of the complex range of issues that require consideration in the process of teaching and learning. Students will be supported to become reflective autonomous professionals through the analysis of contrasting views of development in teaching and learning, while critically engage with a range of key theories, current policies, curriculum frameworks and pedagogies and their application in the teaching of learning of children from birth-6 years, with a particular focus on communication, languages, early literacy and numeracy development and the critical role play pedagogy has on the holistic development of the child.

Learning Outcomes

1. Demonstrate systematic and critical understanding of key theories, theorists, concepts, principles, policies and practices in relation to children in diverse learning contexts from the disciplines of philosophy of education, psychology of education and early childhood education.
2. Critique the ways in which various experiences, relationships, cultures and environments such as school, home and community shape children's childhoods and influence the future processes of childhood development.
3. Engage in independent thought and reflection on the emerging issues of diverse childhoods within a tradition of thinking philosophically and critically about education, themselves and of their position as teachers.
4. Demonstrate a critical understanding of children’s holistic development, the significance of teachers’ emotional awareness and the educational implications of fostering positive and reciprocal teacher–child relationships.
5. Evaluate and justify the implementation of an appropriate curriculum, pedagogy and assessment approaches that are informed by key early childhood education theory to support all children's communication, language, early literacy and numeracy development when teaching in an early years classroom.
6. Analyse and plan the environments, provision and pedagogy that can enable children to be agentic in their holistic learning and development in preparation for professional practice.

Workload Full-time hours per semester
Type Hours Description
Lecture20Participation in weekly 1hr lectures for module components Philosophy of Education: 10 hours Psychology of Education: 10 hours
Workshop20Participation in weekly 2 hour workshops for Early Childhood Education
Online activity10Completion of online (H5P) weekly tasks for Early Childhood Education
Independent Study30Reading to support learning in module components Early Childhood Education: 10 hours Philosophy of Education: 10 hours Psychology of Education: 10 hours
Assignment Completion45Completion of assignments across the module Early Childhood Education: 23 hours Philosophy of Education: 11 hours Psychology of Education: 11 hours
Total Workload: 125

All module information is indicative and subject to change. For further information,students are advised to refer to the University's Marks and Standards and Programme Specific Regulations at: http://www.dcu.ie/registry/examinations/index.shtml

Indicative Content and Learning Activities

Early Childhood Education
This component of the module focuses on children’s holistic learning and development from birth – 6years, with particular emphasis on appropriate pedagogies in the early years of primary school that are underpinned by various theories of learning. Students will critique frameworks/curricula for early learning and will be supported in identifying knowledge, principles and recognising values in relation to promoting a culturally responsive and inclusive learning environment. There is an emphasis on language underpinning early literacy and numeracy and the central role of implementing a pedagogy of play to support teaching and learning in the early years classroom. Students will be scaffolded to plan meaningful, play-based activities that promote children's dispositions and skills development, while they will interrogate the role of the teacher in extending and challenging children's learning and development through reciprocal interactions in various teaching contexts. The students will work reflectively and collaboratively in workshops to gain first-hand, knowledge, understanding and experience of appropriate pedagogy in the early years classroom so as to support their planning and use of curricula in their professional practice. Key content includes: • Principles and key contexts for early learning and development • Frameworks for early learning • Children’s communication and language learning from birth-6 years • The relationship between language, thinking and mathematical development • Developing receptive and expressive/productive children’s oral language skills • The importance of reciprocal, respectful interactions • Using picture books to support co-constructive and mathematical discussion • Appropriate pedagogy including resources for early childhood mathematics education • Teaching and learning of number, measure, shape, space and algebra with young learners • The role of play in early learning • Developing a play pedagogy in the early years classroom including language play (story, rhymes, poetry, songs) • Planning and organising the indoor and outdoor learning environment for early learning and development

Philosophy is an academic discipline with a long tradition of inquiry dating back to the 5th Century B.C.E. It was the first discipline to insist on the importance of making claims on the basis of evidence and/or good arguments. This component of the module examines the history of ideas concerning children and childhood, noting changes in the way children have been perceived from ancient times to the present. Beginning with Aries' theses on childhood historically, this section considers childhood as something both universal and relative; and as something influenced by concepts of nature and culture. It considers four dominant perspectives on childhood historically, and examines issues of freedom and authority in the context of identity and agency. Key content includes: • Introducing the philosophy of education as a discipline • Exploring philosophical concepts in education – childhood, child centred education, concepts of the philosophical teacher, ethos, ethics, equality and social justice, interculturalism and comparative religion • Theorists in philosophy of education – Freire, Dewey, Critical Pedagogy, Marxism (Gramsci etc), Badiou, Ranciere, Postmodernism • Conducting Socratic dialogue in the classroom - critical dialogue as pedagogy- examples from school practice. Philosophy in schools, Thinking Time in Ireland (Donnelly, Dunne, Arista), International P4C (Lipmann, Fisher etc) • Philosophical critique of content from ethical and comparative religious curricula in the Irish context • Children and philosophy: wonder and learning (Dunne, Fox) • Children and childhood in historical contexts (Plato and Rousseau) • Children’s liberation: the agency debate (Matthews, Archard and Arendt) • Childhood, wholeness and citizenship (Flay, McLoughlin).

In this component of the modules, students will be provided with the opportunity to reflect on the rationale for teachers being knowledgeable about psychological theories and research. Approaches to the study of child development will be critiqued and key issues related to psychological growth will be analysed. Students will be introduced to psychological theories of learning and development along with their classroom applications in diverse curricular areas and their educational implications. Specifically, they will learn about theories of language and communication, Piaget and Vygotsky's theories of development, and theories of attention and memory. Key content includes: ● Attachment theory ● Extraversion and Introversion ● School climate and emotional-relational teaching ● Emotional repression ● Behaviourist approaches to learning and motivation

Assessment Breakdown
Continuous Assessment100% Examination Weight0%
Course Work Breakdown
TypeDescription% of totalAssessment Date
EssayIndividual written essay critiquing the relationship between language, thinking, mathematical development and play pedagogy.50%n/a
Short Answer QuestionsIndividual written reflections in response to various philosophical thinking.25%n/a
Short Answer QuestionsIndividual written responses to different theories of cognitive development. The purpose is to reflect on the learning principles put forward by Piaget, Vygotsky and researchers in the areas of attention and memory and observe how they have operated in own learning experiences.25%n/a
Reassessment Requirement Type
Resit arrangements are explained by the following categories;
1 = A resit is available for all components of the module
2 = No resit is available for 100% continuous assessment module
3 = No resit is available for the continuous assessment component
This module is category 1
Indicative Reading List

  • Available on: 0, Module Loop page,
  • Glenda Walsh,Dorothy McMillan,Carol McGuinness: 2017, Playful Teaching and Learning, Sage Publications Limited, 9781473948808
  • Elizabeth Wood: 0, Play, Learning and the Early Childhood Curriculum, 9781446280393
  • Ann Montague-Smith,Tony Cotton,Alice Hansen,Alison J. Price: 0, Mathematics in Early Years Education, 9781138731127
  • Dooley et al. (2014). Mathematics in early childhood and primary education (3-8) years). Dublin: NCCA.: 0,
  • Slavin, R. (2013). Educational psychology : Pearson new international edition pdf ebook : theory and practice. Pearson Education, Limited.: 0,
  • Patrick Leman,Andy Bremner,Ross D. Parke,Mary Gauvain: 0, Developmental Psychology, 2e, 9780077175191
  • Flanagan, Frank (2006), ‘Plato: Education for the State’, in The Greatest Educators Ever. New York: Continuum Press.: 0,
  • Dunne, Joseph. (2002) ‘To Begin in Wonder’. In Arista: Journal of the Association of Teachers of Philosophy with Children, vol. 1, no.: 0,
Other Resources

53432, Digital resources and supports, 0, Available on Module Loop page, 0, 0, Government of Ireland (GoI). (1999). Primary school curriculum. Dublin: The Stationery Office., 0, 0, National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA). (2009). Aistear: The early childhood curriculum framework. Dublin: NCCA., 0, 0, Department of Education and Skills (DES). (2019). Primary language curriculum. Dublin: DES., 0, 0, National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA). (2020). Draft primary curriculum framework. Dublin: NCCA., 0, 0, National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA). (2018). Primary mathematics curriculum draft specification junior infants-second class. Dublin: NCCA.,
Module Teachers: Fiona Giblin, Andrew O'Shea, Maeve Dupont
Programme or List of Programmes
PMEPProfessional Master of Education Primary

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