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The role of play in children’s learning: the perspective of Ghanaian early years stakeholders

The purpose of this study was to examine Ghanaian stakeholders’ beliefs about the role and importance of play in early years (3 to 5 years) children’s learning, referred to as play-learning beliefs. A survey design was adopted in order to gather data necessary to examine the differences among stakeholders’ play-learning beliefs. A total of 292 participants completed the survey. Data were collected using a self-developed scale. A preliminary comparison of the mean differences among the stakeholders using ANOVA indicated that the head teachers and teachers perceived play as a form of learning more favourably than the parents. This difference was further explored using cluster analysis to test the hypothesis that stakeholders’ education status is a factor in explaining the group mean differences. Using a two-step cluster analysis in SPSS 24.0, participants were grouped into five distinct clusters, which were most distinguishable by participant status (parent, teacher or head teacher) and their education status – high-educated head teachers, teachers and parents, moderate-educated teachers and low-educated parents. Consistent differences emerged between cluster groups when compared on the scale score. Consistent with the hypothesis, the results suggest education status is associated with stakeholders’ beliefs about the role of play in children’s learning.