Saturday, January 14, 2012

My Personal Research Journey

This week, our assignment was to choose a research topic for our simulation. I had narrowed my research questions down to two possibilities.
What are the benefits of structured vs. unstructured play?

I was interested in this question because there is so much free play in my classroom and the children mostly run around pushing cars. I wanted to learn more about specific benefits of the two types of play so I could combine them to make a better classroom environment.

My second question was what is the teacher’s role in facilitating play?
The problems in my classroom also brought this question to mind. I want to expand their play themes. If they are interested in cars and trains, how can I expand this further than simply pushing them around? I would expect more advanced play from four and five-year-olds. Normally, that’s what I see the toddlers doing. This past week, I have been setting up small centers in the afternoons and that has helped. I also noticed that yesterday, the older kids were building an elaborate train track around the room and the younger ones were building a smaller version on the train table. The older children were even discussing how they would build each part of the track and which direction it should go. So this research question would give me additional information that would be useful in my job.

However, my entire research topic has changed. Honestly, I was very frustrated while looking for articles. The information was difficult to find, but maybe I wasn’t looking in the right places. There were some articles on play, but they weren’t helpful which was disappointing because I thought there would have been more information on my specific questions. Many of the articles discussed play and literacy, pretend play and outdoor play and safety. I searched mostly in educational databases. Maybe that’s where I went wrong. I also used many combinations of phrases without any luck.

While looking around for articles on play, I discovered an article called, “Peeking at the Relationship World of Infant Friends and Caregivers” by Minsun Shin... On this week’s chart, I answered the reflection question about what other research questions I might have. One of them was about infants and prosocial behavior so I thought I could use this article for a new research topic. The article states that there is little research on infant friendships. My research simulation will focus on how infant caregivers can facilitate infant friendships and peer interactions. I kept finding only the abstract of this article in the education databases, but eventually found the full text in the Sage database. I also found helpful articles in the Science Direct database as well as Academic Research Complete. Does anyone else have advice? Did anyone else have difficulty?


  1. I have to start out by saying, you are not the only one to have difficulty! I had the worst problem finding articles that related to my topic of inclusive classrooms. I spent a whole day sitting on my computer looking for the right articles. When I thought I had found one, it wasn't! We have seen so many articles on play throughout our courses. I don't remember a single one talking about structured play versus unstructured play. I am really interested to hear more about your new topic!

    1. Darcey,
      I believe assessment is a good place to start with your students
      This will help with learning what they know. Next, involve yourself within their free play. This will be a good time to model what you want they to learn.


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