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SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT IN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION WHEN IMPLEMENTING WORK PROJECTS METHODOLOGY: AN APPROACH TO IN-SERVICE TEACHERS´ ROLE THROUGH PRE-SERVICE TEACHERS´ INSIGHTS

The main purpose of the study is to go deeply into Early Childhood Education teaching practice in Work Projects´ methodology, in order to assess its contribution to children´s social development. It has been adopted a case study approach, because the intention has been to achieve an authentic immersion into the habitual context of the participants.

It has been conducted an intentional sampling. The 23 last-year students from the Early Childhood Education Degree (University of Córdoba, Spain) who have participated have accomplished their last practical training period with Early Childhood Education in-service teachers who are experts in applying Work Projects´ Methodology. Furthermore, these in-service teachers are part of RIECU network (Early Childhood Education centers-Teacher Training Center-University), which is a practice community with an extended and recognized trajectory in developing strategies related to innovation and education system improvement.

A qualitative method has been implemented to analyze the reflective journals that participants developed after finishing their stay in the classrooms alongside the expert teachers. It has been conducted a constant induction-deduction process. ATLAS.ti software has facilitated the complex task of identifying thematic dimensions and recognizing links among all the registered sets of data.

The achieved findings give answers to the following specific aims:
• To analyze the importance given to peer interaction and social competence development in the teaching-learning process.
• To identify daily classroom practices which condition peer interaction and social abilities´ development.
• To explore about Work Projects´ methodology principals and its influence in peer interaction.
• To know to what extent teacher´s role, in Work Projects´ methodology, is linked to the sort of peer interaction and, thus, to the way social competence develops.
• To understand factors that, favorably or unfavorably, mediate in teacher´s social development intervention.

At the end of the research, Work Projects´ methodology is seen as an educational paradigm which offers children countless opportunities to interact with peers. At the same time, the daily performance of teachers becomes an important socializing influence, which indirectly tells pupils how to participate and get along with others in the classroom.