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Research Conference 2019

Preparing students for life in the 21st Century:
Identifying, developing and assessing what matters
4–5 August, Melbourne
Dr Dan Cloney

Dr Dan Cloney

Australian Council for Educational Research

What can childhood education and care settings teach us about skills for the 21st century?

Early childhood education and care (ECEC) settings are naturally oriented towards promoting 21st century (21C) skills. This can be seen in Australia, where learning is defined as the development of identify, social and emotional skills, problem solving, and communication skills. A 21C orientation is also seen in the play-based pedagogies implemented in ECEC settings. A gap, however, exists in the ability of the ECEC sector to communicate its successes. This gap relates to the lack of measurement tools to quantify the quality of the adult–child interactions in ECEC settings, and children’s growth in these 21C skills and abilities. This paper is co-presented with Kellie Picker and will present evidence from Australia and Indonesia on the quality of ECEC programs and their impact on early learning and development. The paper will conclude that while there are opportunities to improve quality and have a greater impact on children’s learning and development, there is also an immediate need to develop measurement and assessment tools that support educators to collect evidence of their impact and to quantify children’s growth. This would have the benefit of developing a common language to understand the skills and abilities being fostered in ECEC settings, and support more effective communication with the school sector.

About Dr Dan Cloney

Dr Dan Cloney is a Research Fellow in the Education Policy and Practice Division and a Member of the Centre for Global Education Monitoring at the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER). Dan’s expertise is in early education, cognitive development and academic achievement.
His research program focuses on the potential for high-quality early childhood education and care programs to support all children to flourish and to reduce development gaps caused by inequality. Current studies include the Overcoming Disadvantage in Early Childhood study (in partnership with the Australian Literacy & Numeracy Foundation), which is evaluating the effectiveness of the Early Language & Literacy program in New South Wales, and the Modelling of Universal Pre-Primary Education Study (in partnership with UNICEF) evaluating the effectiveness of pre-primary programs in Bogor, Indonesia.
Dan is also an Honorary Research Associate at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) and his recent publications can be found at

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