The impact of children’s everyday learning on teaching and learning in classrooms and across schools

Funding year: 
3 years
Massey University
School sector
Project start date: 
January 2015
Project end date: 
March 2018
Principal investigator(s): 
Associate Professor Roseanna Bourke, Massey University and Professor John O'Neill, Massey University
Research team members: 
Dr Judith Loveridge, Victoria University of Wellington
Research partners: 
Central Normal School; Te Kura o Tākaro; Cloverlea School and Somerset Cres School


Project description

We explored children’s informal learning outside of school and then investigated how this knowledge can enhance teaching and learning practice in the classroom. We worked alongside children to develop a conceptual framework of the variations in how Year 5 students learn informally in their everyday lives outside school. Some children developed digital autobiographies of their informal learning. These autobiographies, together with the researchers’ conceptual framework, and semi-structured classroom observations of teacher-student interactions contributed directly to a data-led Ako Manga professional learning process for the participating teachers across 3 schools. The Ako Manga focused on informing and supporting teachers’ experiences of incorporating children’s informal, everyday learning strengths (activities, pedagogies and assessments) into formal learning contexts with their students.

What we found out

Children experience informal and everyday learning in multiple, diverse ways but there are common dimensions threaded through all these experiences. These are: Cultural, Relationships, Identity, Strategy, Purpose and Affect/Emotion (CRISPA). Through an understanding of the dimensions of the CRISPA framework, children and teachers can talk about learning, and assess learning in broader, richer terms. Children’s conceptions of informal and everyday learning ranged with some children having little appreciation or awareness of their learning or identity, while others intentionally drew on members of their wider whänau and social communities to learn, and also to teach.

Teachers became engaged when they realised that children’s everyday learning autobiographies and the CRISPA framework gave them a richer and more systematic understanding of how children lived and learned outside school. They became able to use the variations in children’s conceptions of learning, and in their own conceptions, to identify practical opportunities to try out new pedagogical strategies in the classroom, to discuss these with teaching team colleagues and to reflect collaboratively on how their assumptions about the nature and purposes of assessment could safely be unpacked and investigated further. They enjoyed working alongside researchers when the research agenda took into account the teachers’ professional work and learning priorities and when the researchers were able to gather and help them analyse data about children’s learning experiences that the teachers themselves decided were important. Through the research they came to know what they did not know about their students’ everyday learning, and to be committed to finding out more.

Implications for practice

• Teachers need to actively listen to children’s views on learning in their everyday lives and consider the implications for classroom curricula, pedagogy and assessment
• Children can be enabled to see their everyday learning conceptions and strategies as transferable learning strengths
• Parents need support to appreciate the informal learning that happens at home and in community
• Teachers can enrich the possibilities of learning and assessment by incorporating the CRISPA framework into their planning, ako and evaluation
• Informal and everyday learning is a powerful context for children to understand themselves as learners, and develop identities as ‘successful learners’
• Student voice and student-teacher partnership approaches encourage pedagogical change, and become the learning

Our partners

The research team worked in partnership at different phases of the project with students and teachers from Manawatü schools: Te Kura o Takaro, Central Normal School, Cloverlea School and Somerset Crescent School. Other members of our researchers röpu included: Ella Bourke, Dave Cochrane, Maria Dacre, Dr Bevan Erueti, Andrew Jamieson, Nathan Mathews, Claire Rainier, Sarika Rona, Jami Wallace, Amy Young

Cultural advisors

Bevan Erueti and Andrew Jamieson. Massey University

Publications to date

Bourke, R., O’Neill, J., & Loveridge, J. (2018). Children’s conceptions of informal and everyday learning. Oxford Review of Education. DOI: 10.1080/03054985.2018.1450238
Bourke, R., O’Neill, J., & Loveridge, J. (2018). What starts to happen to assessment when teachers learn about their children’s informal learning? Australian Educational Researcher, 45(1), 33-50, DOI  10.1007/s13384-018-0259-x
Bourke, R., O’Neill, J., & Loveridge, J. (26 March, 2018). What happens to assessment when teachers learn about children’s informal learning? Ipu Kererū. Blog of the New Zealand Association for Research in Education.'
Bourke, R., Loveridge, J., O’Neill J., Erueti B., Jamieson, A. (2017). A sociocultural analysis of the ethics of involving children in educational research. International Journal of Inclusive Education. 21(3), 259–271.

Conference presentations

Bourke, R., O'Neill, J., Loveridge, J., Dacre, M., Wallace, J. (2017). Informal and everyday learning: Children's voice(s), teacher practice and a framework for PLD. Three paper symposium presentation to New Zealand Association for Research in Education Conference 2017, Partnerships: from promise to practice, Mehemea ka moemoeā tātou, ka taea e tātou. Hamilton, November.
Bourke, R. (2017). Informal and fearless learning: A child’s gaze on inclusive practices. Presentation at The Inclusive Education Summit, October 27–29, Adelaide, Australia.
Bourke, R., & Loveridge, J. (2016). The micropolitics of informal learning. Paper presented at the New Zealand Association for Research in Education (NZARE) conference, Nov, 2016, Victoria University of Wellington.
Bourke, R., O’Neill, J., & Loveridge, J., Erueti, B., & Jamieson, A. (2015). Children’s conceptions of informal and everyday learning. Paper presented at NZARE conference, Nov 18–20, 2015, Te Whare Wanaga o Awanuiarangi, in Whakatane.