The theory–practice challenge: International early childhood education students making connections in Australia

  • Elizabeth Rouse Deakin University
  • Dawn Joseph


Increasing numbers of international students are enrolling in Australian universities in early childhood teaching degrees. For many of these students understanding the early childhood education pedagogies and approaches is a different way of viewing teaching and learning from their own cultural perspective. Many of these students struggle to understand the teaching and learning theory that underpins early childhood education in Australia which draws on play-based pedagogies, child centred learning, and intentional teaching. This small-scale case study sought to gain insights into how international students undertaking a Master of Teaching (Early Childhood) in an Australian university were enabled to link their theoretical learning to practical applications of being an early childhood teacher. Using questionnaire data, the study found that the international students struggled to connect the theory and pedagogical thinking that underpins early childhood education. What was most significant for these students was the experiences they gained through their practical placements.


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Author Biographies

Elizabeth Rouse, Deakin University

Dr Elizabeth Rouse is a senior lecturer in early childhood at Deakin University. She is involved in teaching the professional studies units on the Master of Teachingand is responsible for teaching international students in their practicum units. She has published widely in the area of early childhood professional practice particularly in the area of teacher education, partnerships and educational leadership.

Dawn Joseph

Dr Dawn Joseph is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Arts and Education (Deakin University, Australia). She teaches in undergraduate and postgraduate programs in the School of Education and is a member of editorial boards of international and national refereed journals. Her research and publications focus on: teacher education, music education, community music, African music, cultural diversity, and ageing and well-being in the Arts.

How to Cite
Rouse, E., & Joseph, D. (2019). The theory–practice challenge: International early childhood education students making connections in Australia. Teachers’ Work, 16(1 & 2), 31-47.