Sandy’s frontline experience in early childhood education informed her transition to academic research. Sandy’s research interests focus on early childhood education quality and its impact on children’s lifelong trajectories. Sandy’s expertise is in qualitative research approaches, such as conversation analysis, with a key focus on data collection methods that include interviews with children and video recording everyday classroom interactions and practices. Sandy has a special interest in the translation of research findings to inform and guide educators’ practice. Sandy’s work has contributed to the ongoing development of the ECEC workforce in recent years, with activities including the co-development and facilitation of professional development resources and workshops for improving sleep, rest and relaxation practices in ECEC settings. She has also mentored early childhood educators in relation to their provision of sleep, rest and relaxation for children in their programs, and delivered presentations to practitioners working in ECEC services.

Research interests: 

  • Early childhood education and care
  • Quality in ECEC
  • Social interaction
  • Teacher-child interactions
  • Children’s sleep, rest and relaxation

PhD Topic: Sandy completed her 2017 thesis, titled Teacher Talk: “I wonder…” Request Designs, in which she used video data of classroom interactions to investigate in fine-grained detail teachers’ pedagogical interactions with young children.

Recent key publications:

  • Houen, S., Danby, S., Farrell, A., & Thorpe, K. (2018) Adopting an unknowing stance in teacher–child interactions through ‘I wonder…’ formulations, Classroom Discourse, DOI: 10.1080/19463014.2018.1518251
  • Cooke, E., Houen, S., Staton, S., & Thorpe, K. (2018). “Get all Cosy… It’s like chill out” : Children’s perspectives on relaxation in early childhood educaiton and care. Gowrie Reflections.
  • Danby, S. J., Davidson, C., Theobald, M., Houen, S., & Thorpe, K. (2017). Pretend play and technology: Young children making sense of their everyday social worlds. In S. Lynch, D. Pike, & C. à Beckett (Eds.), Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Play from Birth and Beyond (pp. 231–245). Singapore: Springer.
  • Ekberg, S., Danby, S., Houen, S., Davidson, C., & Thorpe, K. J. (2017). Soliciting and pursuing suggestions: Practices for contemporaneously managing student-centred and curriculum-focused activities. Linguistics and Education, 42, 65–73.
  • Houen, S., Danby, S., Farrell, A., & Thorpe, K. (2017). Web searching as a context to build on young children’s displayed knowledge. In A. Bateman & A. Church (Eds.), Children’s Knowledge-in-Interaction: Studies in Conversation Analysis (pp. 57–72). Singapore. 
  • Houen, S., Danby, S., Farrell, A., & Thorpe, K. (2016). “I wonder what you know...”  Teachers designing requests for factual information. Teaching and Teacher Education, 59, 68–78.
  • Houen, S., Danby, S., Farrell, A., & Thorpe, K. (2016). Creating spaces for children’s agency: “I wonder...” formulations in teacher-child interactions. International Journal of Early Childhood, 48(3).