Teacher–child interaction in a goal-oriented preschool context: A micro-analytical study

Katarina Nilfyr, Jonas Aspelin, Annika Lantz-Andersson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
27 Downloads (Pure)


The international trend of positioning the preschool as a pre-academic learning environment is challenging for preschool teachers, as it necessitates a balance between emotionally supportive interaction and goal-oriented learning instruction. However, previous research suggests that the complexities of such interactions need to be further studied. This article contributes by presenting a very detailed exploration of how social adaptation is pursued in a goal-oriented documentation activity. The study used a micro-sociological approach, characterized by the careful analysis of verbal and nonverbal interactions. Two research questions were raised: (1) How is social adaptation pursued in verbal and nonverbal interactions in preschool teacher–child relationships during a goal-oriented activity? and (2) How can social adaptation in the preschool context be understood in terms of a “deference-emotion system”? Interactions between a teacher and child in two video-recorded episodes were transcribed and sequentially analyzed thoroughly. The findings suggest that the interactions were regulated through an informal system of social sanctions, in which nonverbal signs of deference played a key role. The interaction was shown to be embedded in an institutional context that advocates goal-oriented instruction, thus highlighting the challenge of preschool teaching in attempting to promote goal-oriented processes while simultaneously maintaining respectful, caring teacher–child relationships.

Original languageEnglish
Article number692
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages13
JournalEducation Sciences
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Swedish Standard Keywords

  • Educational Sciences (503)


  • deference-emotion system
  • micro-analysism
  • preschool
  • social adaptation
  • teacher–child interactions
  • teacher-child interactions
  • micro-analysis


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