Commenced in January 2007
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Paper Count: 2

Conceptualization Related Abstracts

2 Conceptualization and Assessment of Key Competencies for Children in Preschools: A Case Study in Southwest China

Authors: Yumei Han, Naiqing Song, Xiaoping Yang, Yuping Han


This study explores the conceptualization of key competencies that children are expected to develop in three year preschools (age 3-6) and the assessment practices of such key competencies in China. Assessment of children development has been put into the central place of early childhood education quality evaluation system in China. In the context of students key competencies development centered education reform in China, defining and selecting key competencies of children in preschools are of great significance in that they would lay a solid foundation for children’s lifelong learning path, and they would lead to curriculum and instruction reform, teacher development reform as well as quality evaluation reform in the early childhood education area. Based on sense making theory and framework, this study adopted multiple stakeholders’ (early childhood educators, parents, evaluation administrators, scholars in the early childhood education field) perspectives and grass root voices to conceptualize and operationalize key competencies for children in preschools in Southwest China. On the ground of children development theories, Chinese and international literature related to children development and key competencies, and key competencies frameworks by UNESCO, OECD and other nations, the authors designed a two-phase sequential mixed method study to address three main questions: (a) How is early childhood key competency defined or labeled from literature and from different stakeholders’ views? (b) Based on the definitions explicated in the literature and the surveys on different stakeholders, what domains and components are regarded to constitute the key competency framework of children in three-year preschools in China? (c) How have early childhood key competencies been assessed and measured, and how such assessment and measurement contribute to enhancing early childhood development quality? On the first phase, a series of focus group surveys were conducted among different types of stakeholders around the research questions. Moreover, on the second phase, based on the coding of the participants’ answers, together with literature synthesis findings, a questionnaire survey was designed and conducted to select most commonly expected components of preschool children’s key competencies. Semi-structured open questions were also included in the questionnaire for the participants to add on competencies beyond the checklist. Rudimentary findings show agreeable concerns on the significance and necessity of conceptualization and assessment of key competencies for children in preschools, and a key competencies framework composed of 7 domains and 25 indicators was constructed. Meanwhile, the findings also show issues in the current assessment practices of children’s competencies, such as lack of effective assessment tools, lack of teacher capacity in applying the tools to evaluating children and advancing children development accordingly. Finally, the authors put forth suggestions and implications for China and international communities in terms of restructuring early childhood key competencies framework, and promoting child development centered reform in early childhood education quality evaluation and development.

Keywords: Assessment, Conceptualization, key competencies, early childhood education quality in China

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1 Social Entrepreneurship Core Dimensions and Influential Perspectives: An Exploratory Study

Authors: Filipa Lancastre, Carmen Lages, Filipe Santos


The concept of social entrepreneurship (SE) remains ambiguous and deprived of a widely accepted operational definition. We argue that an awareness about the consensual constituent elements of SE from all key players from its ecosystem as well as a deeper understanding of apparently divergent perspectives will allow the different stakeholders (social entrepreneurs, corporations, investors, policymakers, the beneficiaries themselves) to bridge and cooperate for societal value co-creation in trying to solve our most pressing societal issues. To address our research question –what are the dimensions of SE that are consensual and controversial across existing perspectives? – We designed a two-step qualitative study. In a first step, we conducted an extensive literature review, collecting and analyzing 155 different SE definitions. From this initial step, we extracted and characterized three consensual and six controversial dimensions of the SE concept. In a second step, we conducted 20 semi-structured interviews with practitioners that are actively involved in the SE field. The goal of this second step was to verify if the literature did not capture any key dimension, understand how the dimensions related to each other and to understand the rationale behind them. The dimensions of the SE concept were extracted based on the relevance of each theme and on the theoretical relationship among them. To identify the relevance, we used as a proxy the frequency of each theme was referred to in our sample of definitions. To understand relationships, as identified in the previous section, we included concepts from both the management and psychology literature, such as the Entrepreneurial Orientation concept from the entrepreneurship literature, the Subjective Well Being construct from psychology literature, and the Resource-Based Theory from the strategy literature. This study has two main contributions; First, the identification of (consensual and controversial) dimensions of SE that exist across scattered definitions from the academic and practitioner literature. Second, a framework that parsimoniously synthesizes four dominant perspectives of SE and relates them with the SE dimensions. Assuming the contested nature of the SE concept, it is not expected that these views will be reconciled at the academic or practitioner field level. In future research, academics can, however, be aware of the existence of different understandings of SE and avoid bias towards a single view, developing holistic studies on SE phenomena or comparing differences by studying their underlying assumptions. Additionally, it is important that researchers make explicit the perspective they are embracing to ensure consistency among the research question, sampling procedures and implications of results. At the practitioner level, individuals or groups following different logics are predictably mutually suspicious and might benefit from taking stock of other perspectives on SE, building bridges and fostering cross-fertilization to the benefit of the SE ecosystem for which all contribute.

Keywords: social entrepreneurship, Conceptualization, Perspectives, dimensions

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