Research-practice partnerships for quality improvement in early childhood education: Case studies from contemporary China

Keynote session at Norwegian Kindergarten Reasearch Conference 2020

This keynote presentation aims to share and discuss case studies about how to use the research-practice partnerships as a methodology and an action model to improve quality in early childhood education in contemporary China. Research–practice partnerships are becoming an increasingly favoured strategy for district and school improvement, originated from teaching-research groups/offices that has been regarded as one of the key insights and lessons from the highest-ranking education system in the world (Liang, Kidwai, and Zhang, 2016). By concentrating on real-time district and school challenges, long-term and mutually beneficial collaborations between researchers, district leaders and master teachers as key stakeholders can lead to promoting the production and use of research.
The first case came from a collaboration with Haidian District in Beijing Municipality, targeting on deeper learning and effective pedagogy. By drafting a roadmap for a participatory research–practice partnership to improve quality in kindergartens, Haidian’s example made an outline with eight steps: structing a partnership, developing a joint research agenda, developing data sharing agreements, communicating research and engaging stakeholders, using research, staffing and training, funding partnership work, and evaluating partnerships for improvement and impact.
The second case discusses how to build up pedagogically strong approaches to early childhood education for sustainability in Shenzhen’s kindergartens. By focusing on negotiating researcher roles within a research-practice partnership, Shenzhen’s example offers insight into how individual researchers help cultivate and contribute to equitable partnerships.
Based on the two research stories, the keynote speaker provides some critical reflections and prospects in the later part.

Minyi Li

Minyi Li is an associate professor at the Institute of early childhood education, Beijing Normal University, China. She has a solid foundation in Early Childhood Education (ECE), and her background includes a master and doctoral degree in Comparative Education. She has always had the passion for children. She especially cares for the children’s environment and the quality of early childhood education. Her research topics includes comparative research in early childhood education, early childhood curriculum, pedagogy and assessment, early literacy and education, curriculum development and professional development, and national anti-poverty strategy and early childhood education. One of her latest contribution is a special issue on sustainability in the journal ECNU Review of Education. Of special interest for the keynote at this conference is her work with kindergarten staff development in Shenzhen (Guangzhou province), China.