Date of Submission



Recent research into the abilities of children beginning school is powerfully influencing government policy and the provision of early childhood education in Canada. The Early Child Development (ECD) Mapping project, undertaken by the Offord Centre for Child Studies, McMaster University (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada) is one such body of research. The Early Development Instrument (EDI) is designed to gather information about developmental outcomes of children’s prior-to-school experiences at the time of starting kindergarten (the first year of school). The EDI is administered by kindergarten teachers at the level of individual children, with outcomes reported at the population level. However, many kindergarten teachers in Alberta do not have formal training or qualifications in early childhood development. This project therefore sought to identify the discourses of early childhood development that kindergarten teachers in Alberta, Canada, employ in administering the EDI. The project employed Discourse Analysis, operationalised within broader socio-cultural theoretical understandings of teacher knowledge, to analyse interview and focus group material collected from teachers from several school settings in Alberta. The main finding was that the understandings teachers applied in administering the EDI conformed to a traditional developmentalist discourse, employing concepts such as ‘appropriate’, ‘typical’, and ‘normal ranges’ of development. It is argued that the teachers encountered these discourses when administering other tests designed to identify atypical outcomes and therefore attract program funding. However, these discourses were also held in tension with discourses of school readiness as well as other concepts drawn from curriculum models encountered during professional development activities. The study concludes that there is a need for careful consideration of the discourses teachers access to inform their practice when administering the EDI in order to ensure the validity of the EDI as a baseline against which subsequent population level outcomes can be assessed.

Document Type


Access Rights

Open Access



Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Faculty of Education and Arts


Research Location