Theorising variation in engagement in professional and curriculum development: performativity, capital, systems and purpose

BOYLAN, Mark, ADAMS, Gill, WILLIS, Benjamin, COLDWELL, Michael and DEMACK, Sean (2018). Theorising variation in engagement in professional and curriculum development: performativity, capital, systems and purpose. Review of Education, 6 (3), 360-407.

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Increasingly, policymakers seek to improve the quality of teaching through curriculum innovations and continuing professional development (CPD) programmes. However, engagement by schools and teachers varies due to mediating influences of neoliberal policies. In this article, we contribute to understanding how these tendencies affect participation. Problematising the notion of context, we examine ways in which systemic influences interacted with participation in a government-funded mathematics professional and curriculum development programme and also with participants’ purposes. A 3-level clustered Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT) and an implementation and process evaluation were augmented by in-depth case studies, cross-case analysis and the application of theoretical constructs to interpret findings. Theories of capital, figured worlds and systemic coupling are utilised to theorise context. Different levels of engagement are partly explainable by: the interaction of schools' relative systemic advantage and disadvantage; their orientation and coupling to performativity regimes; and the alignment or dissonance between continuing professional development or change programmes and the pedagogical and CPD cultures and purposes of the ‘actors’ (schools, departments and teachers). Performativity concerns restricted what were considered legitimate outcomes in some case study schools. This depended on teachers and schools' positioning in terms of relative degrees of systemic privilege or disadvantage - understood as economic, cultural, social and symbolic capital - and also in terms of figured worlds and system coupling. The case studies provide insights into how collaborative professional learning can be fostered more productively. Methodologically, we demonstrate the power of combining methodologies and applying explanatory social theory to augment quasi-experimental paradigms.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Professional development, methodology, evaluation, mixed methods, performativity
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Institute of Education
Page Range: 360-407
Depositing User: Mark Boylan
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2018 13:03
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 02:03

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