University of Limerick
Davern_2019_Exploration.pdf (15.41 MB)

An exploration of infant teacher understanding of play-based pedagogy within the Irish context

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posted on 2022-09-07, 09:09 authored by LInda M. Davern
Over the last decade Ireland has seen growing interest in the play-based pedagogy known as Aistear (2009) in the infant classroom. The purpose of this study was therefore an exploration on play-based pedagogy understandings in infant classrooms in the primary school sector, with a focus on teacher understandings within the Irish context. The works of George Herbert Mead and Urie Bronfenbrenner comprised the theoretical frame of reference and a qualitative design used, which included the data sources of individual interviews, two-phase classroom observations, and pre- and post-focus groups. Building on the initial findings, training sessions were put in place as continuous professional development (CPD). The data were analysed via content analysis and a constant comparison approach. The findings demonstrated that teachers constructed a concept of ‘play’ in the infant classroom which emphasised the instrumental significance of play rather than the intrinsic significance of play. While there was a generally constructive understanding of Aistear, all the teachers referred to the many barriers to inclusively incorporating Aistear into the infant classroom. Indeed it transpired that all the teacher participants considered a formal didactic attitude essential for certain aspects of teaching. Moreover, since they concurred than individual understandings of play-based learning necessarily determines classroom teaching techniques, it is evident that more training, assistance and resources should be provided by the Department of Education and Skills (DES) in order to guarantee the consistent integration of Aistear pedagogical practice throughout Irish infant classrooms to maximise impact on children’s play. Teachers also maintained that the degree of Aistear support within their school environment further determined the efficacy of the infant play-based pedagogy.



  • Doctoral

First supervisor

Tindall, Daniel W.

Second supervisor

Finneran, Michael





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