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Play competence as a window to preschool teachers’ competence

Journal article
Authors Sandberg Anette
Anne Lillvist
Sonja Sheridan
Pia Williams
Vuorinen Tuula
Published in International Journal of Play
Volume 1
Issue 2
Pages 184-196
ISSN 2159-4937
Publication year 2012
Published at Department of Education, Communication and Learning
Pages 184-196
Language en
Keywords play; competence; preschool teachers; preschool
Subject categories Pedagogy


The aim of this study is to investigate preschool teachers’ perceptions of good practice in play, their skills, and perceptions of play competence. The theoretical framework is based on interactionist theories, which congregate theories of learning, in which individuals and the environment influence and are influenced by one another in a continuous interaction and communication, such as socio-cultural theories and ecological system theories. The study has a qualitative and quantitative approach. Interviews were conducted with preschool teachers (N ¼ 30) to gain a deeper understanding of their perceptions of the concept of play competence. In addition, a survey was distributed to preschool teachers (N ¼ 115) in order to gain a broader understanding of their perceptions of different dimensions of teacher play competence and to investigate if and how these perceptions were related to factors such as age, type of education, and number of years in the field. The results showed that preschool teachers describe play competence as a multidimensional construct, encompassing different competencies such as attentive, cognitive, and organizational. The results from the quantitative analyses showed that experienced teachers rate their play competence higher than teachers with limited experience of work in educational settinngs. Thus, this indicates that play competence develops during practical experience in the field.

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