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Thinking and acting: an exploration of Australian early childhood teachers' beliefs and practice regarding learning, teaching and religious education

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

The purpose of this research was to explore the beliefs and practice of early childhood teachers in Catholic schools in Australia. In particular, the research investigated the teacher’s beliefs about teaching, learning and Religious Education. Also examined in this thesis was the classroom practice of early childhood teachers and the factors that impact on their stated beliefs and translation into classroom practice.

Whilst there are empirical studies that explore early childhood teachers’ beliefs and practice, there were no studies which explore early childhood teachers’ beliefs and practice with regard to learning, teaching and Religious Education in Australia.

A mixed method approach to data collection and analysis was used in order to answer the research questions. That is, both quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection and analysis were utilized in this research. Early childhood teachers in 6 states of Australia were surveyed using an instrument designed to assess teachers’ beliefs about learning, teaching and Religious Education. Teachers were selected for further study, based on criteria grounded in the literature. Classroom practice was observed and documented providing further insights into beliefs and practices with regard to Early Childhood and Religious Education.

The analysis of data revealed both differences and similarities that exist between teachers’ stated beliefs and classroom practice and in particular their pedagogy with regard to Religious Education. The study highlighted implications for Religious Education in the early years of schooling, for the continued professional development and curriculum development for Religious Education in the early years of schooling.

In summary, this thesis examined the role of Early Childhood teachers’ beliefs about learning, teaching and Religious Education and the relationship to classroom practice. It critically explored the impact that a range of factors have on teachers’ ability to implement practice that was consistent with their stated beliefs.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Australian Catholic University
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Elizabeth Warren (External person) (Supervisor)
Award date2007
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ID: 11728503