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How children experience their everyday school life individually

Children’s perception of school, teaching and learning was now at the center of an international conference which was held at California State University Fullerton on the initiative of Prof. Dr. Klaudia Schultheis (Chair of Elementary Education at the KU). An international group of educational experts from four continents, who all work in the field of teacher training, exchanged views on research projects and current topics in early childhood education, elementary education and special needs education. The conferences have been taking place regularly since 2013.

Researchers from Australia, Bulgaria, Germany, Japan, Sweden and the USA amongst others discussed research findings of own projects regarding reforms of curricula, implementation of STEM topics in early childhood education and the perception of inclusion and exclusion of children with special needs and highly gifted children. Prof. Dr. Valerie Margrain from the University of Karlstad (Sweden) was able to demonstrate that factors such as physical and emotional well-being, time structures and spatial conditions, atmospheres or social relationships must also be taken into account when investigating childhood inclusion experiences for individual learning biographies. These findings are in line with a fundamental theory established in connection with previous experiences gathered in educational childhood research, which is one of the focus areas of the Chair of Elementary Education at the KU.

“Overall, the discussions at the conference clearly showed that research on the individual experience and subjective perspectives of children in the context of school, learning and education was still a neglected issue”, explains Schultheis. She went on to say that this was particularly due to the fact that educational situations were complex constellations in which it was impossible to examine each individual variable independently but that these rather needed to be looked at in interaction. 

Participants at the conference discussed the introduction of a joint research project for the further development of educational childhood research which is to be led by Prof. Schultheis and seeks to investigate cooperative learning at elementary schools from the perspective of school children in an international comparison. The focus will be on the experiences of elementary school children with cooperative forms of learning such as partner or group work elements. There are only very few current studies in this field, in particular concerning inclusive or gender specific aspects of learning with peers from the perspective of school children.