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A total of 659 photographs of text in early childhood environments were gathered by student teachers in New Zealand and Sweden, replicating an earlier Swedish study [Gustafsson, K., & Mellgren, E. (2002). Using text in pre-school: A learning environment. Early Child Development and Care, 172(6), 603–624]. The findings of this study support us in understanding student teachers’ conceptions of literacy and the influence of cultural values. The text most photographed reflected traditional artefacts such as alphabet charts, use of labels and organisation of children. Richer aspects of literacy including children making meaning by reading and writing and use of information communication technology were photographed less often. The implication for higher education is that student teachers may need more time and support than assumed to develop deep and embedded understandings of literacy as a meaningful activity and experience for children. Universities, and the settings in which student teachers complete practicum, provide important and complementary contexts within which student teachers can develop this learning.

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Journal Article

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