„Að geta átt góð samskipti við aðra – ég held að það sé mikilvægast“: Gildamenntun í leikskóla

Translated title of the contribution: “To know how to have good communication – I think that is most important” : Values education in preschools

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study is based on data from an action research project that was conducted in
collaboration with seven preschool teachers in one preschool in the capital area
of Iceland and lasted for 24 months. The aim was to investigate the participating
preschool teachers’ views on values education in preschools and study how they
mediate values to the preschool children. These three research questions have guided
the study: 1) Which values do the preschool teachers find most important to mediate
to the preschool children and why? 2) How do the preschool teachers see their own
role in values education? 3) How do the preschool teachers mediate values to the
The study is based on a sociocultural perspective where learning is seen as integrated
with the social context in which it happens (Säljö, 2005; Vygotsky, 1978). Habermas’s
theory of communicative action was also used to study values education in more
depth. Habermas believed that learning happened mostly through communication
and therefore he emphasized that education should focus more on communicative
exchanges (Edgar, 2006; Habermas, 1995).
The study adopts a definition of values from Halstead and Taylor (2000) who say
that values are principles and fundamental convictions which act as general guides to
behavior. Furthermore, they say that values are standards by which particular actions
are judged to be good or desirable. In the study, values are seen as applicable to
both individual minds and actions, rather than only belonging to one of these two
spheres (Hitlin & Piliavin, 2004; Tappan, 2006). The concept of values education
is a key focus in the study. It refers to educational practices through which children
are assumed to learn values. The aim of values education is to promote children’s
understanding and knowledge of values so they can act according to these particular
values as members of the society to which they belong (Halstead & Taylor, 2000;
Thornberg, 2008).
This article is based on data gathered through four different methods. Firstly, the
participating preschool teachers kept a journal throughout the action research process.
Secondly, all meetings in the project were recorded, transcribed and used as data.
Thirdly, the preschool teachers were interviewed twice, at the beginning and at the
end of the research process. And finally, to answer the third research question, video
observations were used to analyze how the preschool teachers mediated values to the
The findings of the study show that the participating preschool teachers wanted to
emphasize the mediation of values that promote children’s social competences. They
chose three values to focus on in the project: care, respect and discipline, believing
that those three would make the children socially stronger. The preschool teachers
saw their own role in values education as mainly involving being role models for the
children. They also found it important to use words or concepts the children could
understand for the values they chose to focus on. For example, they decided to use
the concept friendship to mediate the value of care. Guidance and closeness were
also important factors when mediating the values to the children and sometimes
the preschool teachers found that they needed to direct the children towards right
behavior and set strict rules. The preschool teachers used different approaches when
mediating values to the children, but both communicative and strategic actions were
identified in the two video observations chosen for analysis. When the preschool
teachers’ perspectives were in conflict with those of the children, the preschool took over the control of the play scenario which led to ending of the play. Values education
was implicit rather than explicit in the preschool practice, although it became more
explicit as the action research project proceeded.
Translated title of the contribution“To know how to have good communication – I think that is most important” : Values education in preschools
Original languageIcelandic
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2020

Other keywords

  • Values education
  • Social competences
  • Preschool teachers
  • Action research


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