Rethinking Activity Theory for the Study of Interagency Collaboration on a Policy-Driven Curriculum Initiative.

Doyle, Michael (2008) Rethinking Activity Theory for the Study of Interagency Collaboration on a Policy-Driven Curriculum Initiative. PhD thesis, UNSPECIFIED.

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Using recent debates within socio-cultural theory around subjectivity, this research offers an analysis of a policy-driven curriculum initiative in the UK dependent on successful, local interagency working. The research uses Activity Theory to frame the analysis of the emerging partnership, and interventionist research instruments associated with this - in particular Development Work Methodology. It initially identifies partners' (subjects') positions, and subsequent motivation and positioning on the 'object' of the collaborative activity, and analyses contested critical sites between the partners over a two year period of curriculum development and implementation. It links partners' positioning to issues of roles and perspective and contested discursive practices in the emerging activity to trace the dynamics and impact of decision making in collective workshops, or 'boundary crossing' sessions. This gives access to the formal, discursive outcomes of these collective sessions, which are then traced through processes of implementation, or re-contextualisation, throughout the differential affordances of the partnership. Such an approach gives access to issues of power, formal and dispersed, and involves an analysis of the development of the activity system over both time and locality. The curriculum is a Government inspired drive to widen participation in higher education, and is simultaneously targeted at expanding the higher level skills base of the UK economy. Called Foundation Degrees, they require collective development ideally by a university, a series of colleges delivering the curriculum and employers, who provide the students for the programmes. The data for the research was collected through a sequenced series of individual subject interviews interspersed with boundary crossing workshops over two intakes of students for the developing programme. The data demonstrates a degree of 'expansive' development within the activity system around the contested sites linked particularly to issues of pedagogy and assessment. However, the formal, collective accommodations at the boundaries are framed within the prevailing discursive practices of the dominant partner. Actual practice in the localities of the distributed activity system was subsequently shaped to varying degrees by local affordances and partners' priorities, and these impacted differentially on subsequent trajectories of collective development. The thesis reformulates a notion of 'expansiveness' that is differentiated and decentred throughout the Activity System, and therefore one that impacts on collective development differentially. It concludes by modelling the process, based on this research, to accommodate issues of locality and time and the relational nature of partner activity systems with collective 'knotworking'. In doing this it critically analyses Activity Theory and Development Work Methodology as tools of analysis and investigation in this case, and uses the data to provide an elaboration of both based on this research.

Item Type:
Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Lancaster University (United Kingdom), 2008.
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Deposited On:
02 May 2019 16:36
Last Modified:
12 Sep 2023 00:36