Fragmented boundary zones between theory and practice in preschool teacher education in Sweden


  • Jan Gustafsson Nyckel University West
  • Rolf Lander University of Gothenburg
  • Per-Olof Thång University of Gothenburg



affordance; learning approach; preschool teacher education; study approach; theory and practice


Research dealing with preschool teacher education has been, for a long time, critical
of a binary divide between theory and practice. Based on that issue, this study
investigates a preschool teacher education programme in Sweden. It focusses on
reflection upon theory and practice as an affordance offered to students in studies and
work. The study used a questionnaire with two groups: campus students
following the regular programme and students who were nurses already working at
preschools. Analysis shows a fragmented education where the groups faced different
problems, but also that neither of them could connect reflections on theory and
practice at the workplace to their own learning approaches in either studies or
working matters. How the students experienced affordances depended on their
educational skills and knowledge, and the programme relied mostly on individual
reflection as the solution to the binary divide. This reliance seemed to work better for
campus students, who were challenged by the new environmental affordances. The
students in the field-based programme were close to the preschools’ pedagogical
micro-practice, which limited the possibility for critical reflection on theory and
practice and its contextual conditions, especially for students who were nurses.
Workplace routines seem to structure the students’ learning instead.






Research Articles (peer-reviewed)