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Personal profile

Personal profile

Sheena Elwick is a Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Education (ECE) within the School of Education at Charles Sturt University (CSU), and is located on the Albury-Wodonga campus, New South Wales (NSW).  She has a Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood/Primary) (Honours Class 1) and a PhD in ECE, both from CSU. She has practice-based experience in prior-to-school, primary school, and tertiary settings as a teacher, teacher educator, and leader. As a teacher, she has worked in long day care and mobile childcare, as well as in primary school settings. She has held leadership positions in those settings including Educational Leader, Mathematics Coordinator (Foundation to Year 6) and Common Curriculum Numeracy Team Leader (Foundation to Year 10).

Sheena’s doctoral study, A philosophical-empirical interrogation of infant participation in research, was embedded within the Australian Research Council Linkage Project LP0883913: ‘What is life like for babies and toddlers in childcare?’ It brought together philosophy and empirical data generated with six infants located in three Family Day Care homes to interrogate the concept of infant participation in research. As a PhD student, Sheena was a member of the CSU Research Institute for Professional Practice, Learning and Education; and, a member of the Excellence in Research in Early Years Education Collaborative Research Network. The thesis reporting on the doctoral study was selected as an outstanding dissertation by CSU and the abstract was subsequently published in the Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New South Wales. During her doctoral studies, Sheena established a strong record of research productivity. Her doctoral research generated five scholarly book chapters, six refereed journal articles, two professional publications, and two international conference presentations.

Locally, Sheena facilitates the ‘Reclaiming the Early Years: Reflecting, learning, and imagining’ professional learning group that provides opportunities for early childhood professionals working in ECE settings and the first years of primary school to regularly meet and explore how best to support and honour the children they work with.

Research Interests

Sheena specialises in working closely with early childhood professionals, and children, to explore and co-design innovative and timely responses to questions emerging from within their lived experiences of educational environments. This work often involves working in partnership with national and international multi-university teams, and specialist organisations, including Government and Non-government organisations.

Sheena’s current research has a strong emphasis on early childhood curriculum and assessment, and enhancing educators’ and teachers’ knowledge and practice (early childhood and the first years of primary school):

  • She is a member of the national consortium engaged by the Australian Children’s Education and Care Authority (ACECQA) on behalf of all governments to update the two national approved learning frameworks under the National Quality Framework: Belonging, Being and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia and My Time Our Place: Framework for School Age Care. The Australian Learning Frameworks inform educational programs and practices in ECE, and outside school hours care services.
  • Sheena is a Chief Investigator in the multi-university (national and international) ORICL Observe, Reflect, Improve Children’s Learning project – A tool for educators working with children under three. ORICL is a new tool co-developed with the field, for the field, and trialled in long day care and family day care services to understand its potential to document individual children’s experiences within ECE, and to enhance teacher and educator knowledge and practice. Unlike other tools, the ORICL does not assess quality at the group or room level. The ORICL is unique in supporting individualised observation and reflection on children’s experiences. Educators are encouraged to observe not just children’s own actions, but those of educators’ and peers in response to children. ORICL aligns with Belonging, Being and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia.
  • Sheena was a Chief Investigator in a multi-university research project: NSW Preschool Assessment Study: Review of Formative Assessment Practices in Early Childhood Settings. This research was commissioned by the NSW Department of Education to investigate formative assessment tools for ECE services in NSW, focusing on children in their year before school.
  • Sheena is the CSU lead in a multi-university team that is developing resource material (video, interviews, images) for the NSW Department of Education to be used in professional learning for teachers and educators, with Certificate, Diploma and Degree-level qualifications, working with preschool-aged children in education and care settings. These settings include school-based preschools, centre-based preschools and long day care services, and home-based Family Day Care.

Sheena is currently developing other research projects, including a multi-university and multidisciplinary project that examines how educational and design perspectives can be brought together to improve outcomes for young children living in residential care houses under State protective custody.

During her time as a researcher, Sheena has kept a sustained focus on the ethics of researching with young children and her work in this area has been nationally and internationally recognised. Sheena was an invited speaker at the 3rd Infants and Toddler conference at Macquarie University in 2019. The topic of the presentation was ‘Children’s rights: What do they look like and who decides?’ Sheena presented a second related paper at the same conference: ‘Using video-images to transform participatory practices with infants and toddlers: Exploring the ethical challenges and possibilities’. Sheena’s methodological and theoretical work has also been used internationally as a resource to assist students and researchers in various disciplines, and to guide and improve ethical research involving children.

Sheena has specialist skills in qualitative and mixed-method research approaches, including using visual research methodologies to elicit details of teachers’ and children’s experiences of their environments. She has a sustained interest in drawing on philosophy, particularly Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy and his phenomenological method, as a resource and catalyst for critically engaging with taken-for-granted concepts and methodologies.

She is skilled in a large range of methods (and associated qualitative and quantitative analysis) including:

  • development and facilitation of large Delphi Panels involving key stakeholders from early childhood services, specialist organisations, government, and non-government organisations
  • Observation, and development of observation coding systems
  • Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) Infant and CLASS-Toddler
  • survey design and implementation
  • visual methods, including baby-cam, Go-Pro cameras, tripod cameras, child camera-tours
  • interview design and implementation: focus group and one-to-one interviews (face-to-face and via Zoom or similar platforms)
  • Time-use Diaries
  • Language Inventories
  • Temperament and personality questionnaires
  • Assessment tool design and implementation

Teaching

Sheena currently teaches in the Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood and Primary), the Bachelor of Education (Birth to Five Years), and the Graduate Certificate in Arts and Social Sciences Research

She is the Subject Convenor and Subject Coordinator in the following subjects:

  • EED110: Child development – the early ears
  • EMC305: Investigation – mathematics, science and technology
  • ASH510: Research project

 

Higher Degree Research (HDR) Student Supervision

Student

Degree

Title

Role

Status

B. Friezer

PhD

How do infants interact in triads in long day care?

Co-supervisor

In progress

N. Thompson

PhD

Talking to children about literacies in the 21st century

Co-supervisor

In progress

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Devlopment Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 4 - Quality Education

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