In-service teachers as relational and transformative agents : A study of primary school teachers' professional learning during a Change Laboratory formative intervention

Pattison, Elaine and Bligh, Brett and Ashwin, Paul (2020) In-service teachers as relational and transformative agents : A study of primary school teachers' professional learning during a Change Laboratory formative intervention. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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Generating change in teachers’ professional learning is central to the development of the profession: teachers’ agency during professional learning, their attitudes to - and their perceptions of - organisational change all influence the learning process. This thesis reports a research-intervention with a group of early career in-service primary school teachers and records the trajectory of change implementation in a school setting. The study’s iterative approach to exploring different teaching methods develops individual and collective agency, a relationship which is underexamined in educational practice literature. The study employed a Change Laboratory methodology where the insider researcher worked collaboratively with teachers over a series of eight sessions in one school in Central England to reimagine practice for implementing reading comprehension lessons. The process began by examining ways of encouraging reading; teacher input narrowed the focus to developing children’s comprehension skills and by the end of the research-intervention, teachers had produced a revised whole-school reading comprehension pedagogy. Data are interpreted through the lenses of transformative agency, focussing on a collective drive for system change, and relational agency, focussing on individual collaborations during change processes: individual and collective agency are thus mutually reinforced through collective reconceptualisations of practice. When teachers collaborated to produce an understanding of what mattered in reading comprehension pedagogy, they were able to change practices collectively, prompted by agentic individuals. When strong individuals, drawing on existing professional knowledge, challenged change, their resistance was countered by the agency and expertise of colleagues who collectively negotiated alternatives. This research contributes to the literature on developing agency in teachers’ professional learning and finds that where individuals who are receptive to change take intentional and relational actions, change can be generated collectively. Teachers’ professional learning remains a challenging and contested process, with change difficult to sustain if motives are misaligned and communication is unreflective.

Item Type:
Thesis (PhD)
?? transformative agency; relational agency; formative interventions; change laboratory; professional learning; teachers; insider research ??
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04 Dec 2020 17:00
Last Modified:
13 Jun 2024 23:47