Faculty of Education - Theses

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    Educational accountability and organisational capacity in school science departments: a material critique of management models of mandated curriculum reforms
    Bainbridge, John ( 2007)
    In Sociology, Bourdieu (1977), Giddens (1984) and Schatzki (2001) have developed theories of practice to offer an alternative to rational and normative concepts of action and to solve the problem of the relationship between agency and structure. They argue that cultural, political and economic processes are mutually constitutive of social agency, as agency can be productively read as a historically specific confluence of discursive and material processes. In applied disciplines such as organizational and management studies (Niccolini, 2001) as well as in education (Southerland, Smith, Sowell and Kittleson, 2007), practice has been adopted to redefine the concepts of knowledge and learning and to understand change in working life. In these contexts, practice-based research has become part of new research areas, such as organizational learning, knowledge management, innovation and workplace studies and this research is in this modern tradition. This is a study of the praxis of two groups of science teachers, in different countries under different policy regimes of state mandated curriculum management. It is a study towards an understanding of the pedagogy of resistance and transformation. The significance of the resistance of material entities for the objectivity of knowledge is an important theme in the sociology of knowledge. The practice theorists in science and technology studies (for example Pickering 1993,1995, Latour 2000, Miettinen, 2006) have taken this resistance manifesting itself in experimental activity as a constitutive factor in accounting for the emergence of facts and scientific concepts. Pickering (1955: 560) talks about the temporal emergence of experimental activity in research as a "real-time dialectic of resistance and accommodation". Resistance refers to the blockage in reaching a goal or realization of a hypothesis. Fleck (1981) proposes that a fact is understood as a resistance expressed in experimental work and interpreted by the practice community. The widespread notion of "constraint" is usually understood as some kind of external condition that objectively limits scientific activities and epistemologies of transformative material activity more generally. "Resistance" is to be preferred, Pickering argues, because resistances are genuinely emergent in time, as a block arising in practice to a passage of goal-oriented practice" For Latour (200) objectivity refers to the presence of things that "object to what is told about them". This study uses surveys of whole school and science department staff as well as interviews conducted over a year in each of two schools, one in England and one in Melbourne Australia. It looks at the agency of science teachers as a transformative material activity, its relationship with policies of State mandated standards, and the objectivisation of teacher knowledge. Whereas subjective identity operates here in terms of types of experience that are available, agency of these teachers has to do more with a distribution of acts. Bhaskar's (1993) Transformational Model of Social Action has been applied to the analysis of staffroom praxis and offers an informing under-theory to the study of teacher agency and practice.