Learning Stories
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Learning Stories : Constructing Learner Identities in Early Education

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New companion book Learning Stories in Practice out now!


Margaret Carr's seminal work on Learning Stories was first published by SAGE in 2001, and this widely acclaimed approach to assessment has since gained a huge international following. In this new full-colour book, the authors outline the philosophy behind Learning Stories and refer to the latest findings from the research projects they have led with teachers on learning dispositions and learning power, to argue that Learning Stories can construct learner identities in early childhood settings and schools. By making the connection between sociocultural approaches to pedagogy and assessment, and narrative inquiry, this book contextualizes Learning Stories as a philosophical approach to education, learning and pedagogy.
Chapters explore how Learning Stories:


- help make connections with families


- support the inclusion of children and family voices


- tell us stories about babies


- allow children to dictate their own stories


- can be used to revisit children's learning journeys


- can contribute to teaching and learning wisdom


This ground-breaking book expands on the concept of Learning Stories and includes examples from practice in both New Zealand and the UK. It outlines the philosophy behind this pedagogical tool for documenting how learning identities are constructed and shows, through research evidence, why the early years is such a critical time in the formation of learning dispositions.


Margaret Carr is a Professor of Education at the University of Waikato, New Zealand.


Wendy Lee is Director of the Educational Leadership Project, New Zealand.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 168 pages
  • 170 x 242 x 10.16mm | 330g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0857020935
  • 9780857020932
  • 71,295

Table of contents

Learner Identities in the Early Years: An Introduction to Four Themes
Why Story?
Co-Authoring and Dialogue
Making Connections Across Boundaries Between Places
Recognising and Re-Cognising Learning Continuities
Appropriating Knowledges and Learning Dispositions in a Range of Increasingly Complex Ways
Reconceptualising Assessment
Constructing and Sustaining a Passion for Learning
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Review quote

'Margaret Carr and Wendy Lee weave together a powerful book full of respect for children's ideas, interests and identities as learners. Using theoretically informed and practically focused discussion and examples, they provide extensive evidence of the role of narrative assessment as teachers, children and families co-construct stories of competence'
- Sue Dockett, Professor of Early Childhood Education,
Murray School of Education, Charles Sturt University




'What a fabulous read! Any practitioner already engaged in collating learning stories or learning journeys as a means of recording children's achievements and progress should absorb this life-enriching read of a beautiful book'
-Early Years Educator






'Illustrated in colour, this is a fascinating and timely book which will make rewarding reading for both experienced practitioners and for students on degree and higher degree level courses. There is much here to think about, reflect upon and discuss as we endevour to equip young children with the skills and dispositions they need to live in a global democratic society'
- Early Years Update
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About Wendy Lee

Margaret Carr is a Professor of Education at the Wilf Malcolm Institute of Educational Research at the University of Waikato, in Hamilton, New Zealand. Before she joined the Faculty of Education at Waikato, she was a geographer at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, where there was a strong focus by the professors on social and cultural change. This formed a background for her interest in the role of education in society, and in Hamilton she gained a qualification in early childhood education and worked as a kindergarten teacher before becoming a lecturer in education at the university. Her PhD thesis was entitled `Technological Practice in Early Childhood as a Dispositional Milieu'. New Zealand has provided a number of opportunities for professors to research with early childhood teachers on topics chosen by the teachers, and Margaret has frequently published with teachers. Learning Stories as an assessment practice was developed for the 1996 Te Whariki bicultural curriculum (later revised in 2017); the development of narrative assessment is told in the 2001 Sage book, Assessment in Early Childhood Settings: Learning Stories, and further developed in the 2012 Sage book Learning Stories: Constructing Learner Identities in Early Education. The latter book was co-authored with Wendy Lee, and this partnership has combined academic and professional wisdom in many publications and presentations over many years.

Wendy Lee is passionate about Early Childhood Education (ECE) in New Zealand and has developed a deep interest in issues related to the curriculum and leadership. She is a strong advocate for Learning Stories and the power of documentation to strengthen learner identity of children. Over the past 50 years, her career has focused on building strong, reflective and robust learning communities through her roles as teacher, unionist, lecturer, community development worker, city councillor, manager, professional development facilitator and researcher. Today, as director of the Educational Leadership Project Ltd she and her team provide training and advice to ECE centres throughout New Zealand and in a wide range of other countries. Over the past 20 years, she has had the privilege of collaborating with Professor Margaret Carr on a number of ECE research projects, including co-directing the National Early Childhood Assessment and Learning Exemplar Project. This produced the Kei Tua o te Pae books on assessment for improving learning in the NZ ECE sector. As the influence of research in the area of Learning Stories and Assessment in New Zealand grows and extends more into ECE practice, Wendy has been increasingly requested to present its influence to a wider international audience including teachers in Ireland, England, Scotland, Germany, Japan, Belgium, the USA, Kazakhstan, Canada, Australia and China.
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