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Living with uncertainty : transition from university student to early childhood professional

conference contribution
posted on 2017-12-06, 00:00 authored by J Ailwood, Alison Black, J Bradley, A Heirdsfield, L Thomas, S Walker, C Meehan
Transitions are inevitable, and are part of a continuous process of invention and exploration that is often linked to disequilibrium and dissonance (Stacey, 1992). Beginning professionals are often frustrated with the uncertainty and realities of their profession. This paper reports on a case study that aimed to identify early childhood education students’ transition issues and to enhance their transition from the final semester of study into professional practice. The project aimed to develop a framework for supporting the transition journey for these students as they found a place within the field to develop and construct identities that align with the community in which they are socially situated. Three phases of transition (Bridges, 2003) were identified. 1) First, as students left university to transition into professional practice, they experienced feelings of insecurity, and a sense of loss and uncertainty. Also, they perceived personal and professional attributes as interchangeable. 2) Second, graduates struggled with their new identities, and searched for answers to their insecurities. Some searched for answers from their university peers; others sought out peer mentoring and professional development opportunities in their sites. 3) Third, graduates were able to separate personal and professional qualities, and could begin to look back on their transition experiences in a more reflective way. Findings from this work have informed the provision of learning opportunities, experiences and approaches which have been strategically embedded in the final year units of study at university.


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Hong Kong


Pacific Early Childhood Education Research Association

Place of Publication

Hong Kong

Peer Reviewed

  • Yes

Open Access

  • No

External Author Affiliations

Canterbury Christ Church College; Queensland University of Technology;

Era Eligible

  • No

Name of Conference

Pacific Early Childhood Education Research Association. Conference.

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