The impact of interactive systems on preadolescent children in out-of-school time. Issues and answers from multiple cases and diverse contexts

Doctoral Studies Completed Theses – 2014 Archive

This page is no longer updated. Page archived on Thu, 14 Jul 2016

Johanna Johns

PhD thesis, conferred 2014

This research investigates the experiences of preadolescents in School Age Care contexts (popularly known as After-school Care) in New South Wales (NSW), Australia. The study finds that children primarily form identities by exploring and pursuing their interests. They need adults to facilitate this process because they lack the experience, resources and status to do so themselves. The adult–child care relationship thus conditions the efficiency and effectiveness of children’s aspirations. The core concern of the study is learner identity formation by children in their approach to high school transition.

The study responds to two current social concerns. First, how are children of school age best looked after in the hours when they are not at school and their parents are at work. Second, how can children be guided to stay at school until they matriculate, and not to drop out of school early. It is proposed that children’s potential depends on their capacity to build resilient learner identities through the support founded in generational networks. This study makes use of multiple cases of children’s out-of-school experiences, taken from six different kinds of School Age Care in Greater Sydney, NSW. Grounded-Theory analysis is applied to data and information sourced from multiple methods including drawings, group interactions and face-to-face conversations. Based on the self-reports of children, the study considers the barriers inhibiting children’s learner identity formation. Scholarly discourse, media, reports and interviews with adult leaders at each field site provide commentary.

An argument is made for partnering across children’s networks at the interface between schooling and the worlds children inhabit outside of school. Children are theoretically conceived as being invested in the process of their own skill building to become agents for their own best interests. The adult–child care relationship facilitates this process. It is argued that School Age Care, at the interface between school and home, has the potential to mediate between the various discontinuities found among the different contexts of childhood, particularly in the approach to the transition to high school. Based on this, existing and new School Age Care policy is reviewed to recommend practical approaches to adult–child care relationship building and program planning. This includes the recommendation of new tools to generate data and information about the engagement of children in various activities. A methodology is modelled for building program-planning skills in School Age Care settings collaboratively with children. These tools and methodologies respond to the vision of policy directions initiated at the care ‘coalface’ since January 2012. They are intended to generate both ‘lag’ and ‘lead’ guidance for the development of professional standards and for enriching the benefits to children in out-of-school contexts.

Supervisor: Dr Jennifer Way