Week 24 – A8: Practitioners and models of pedgagoy

reading: de Freitas et al (2007) ‘The practitioner perspective on the modelling of pedagogy and practice’

1. What are the two main ways in which interventions intended to change how teachers teach actually attempt to do this? (page 26)

Assumption that interventions intended to change teachers’ teaching (model practice) will improve practice. The authors argue that this will lead to either

a) An idealised practice, which then can be planned or implemented (e.g. Laurillard, 2001)

b) It can be used by a teacher to represent their own practices so that they can be shared, negotiated and revised (e.g.Conole and Oliver, 2002).

2. What are the six main ways in which practice has currently been modelled? (page 27)

• Practice models developed to describe or prescribe specific approaches by practitioners [e.g. Salmon’s (2000) five-step model of online learning; Laurillard’s(2001) conversational model].
• Other practical accounts that don’t fit any modeling framework such as case studies, action researchreports, project findings and staff developmentmaterials.
• Theoretical accounts designed to provide coherent explanations of learning activities and practice (e.g. systems theory, activity theory, cognitive/ constructivist theories).
• Taxonomies and ontologies (structured vocabularies) developed to provide systematic ways of labeling and organizing features of the learning situation.
• Standards and specifications such as Instructional Management Systems Learning Objects Model and Learning Design or ISO SC36; also representations such as workflow diagrams, Unified Modeling Language models or instantiations of standards in working systems.
• Organizational models designed to ensure an institution’s processes make best use of learning systems and best practice standards, such as quality assurance documents.

3. What are the five main factors that Sharpe (2004) identifies as influencing the success of interventions intended to improve practice? (pages 28–9)

‘The first is usability, the idea that the resource must be known about, be accessible and be understandable. This would normally involve designing the resource for a well-defined audience. Contextualization, the next factor, involves customizing or adapting resources for the intended audience, in recognition of the issues, values and practices of that group. This might be done by the designers or by the audience themselves, as a way of adapting ‘generic’ resources for their own use. The next quality concerns professional learning. This proposes that a change in practice requires learning, usually involving changed conceptions of teaching and learning. This reflects the constructivist principles and assumptions that form a foundation to this classification. Central to many of these qualities is the idea of community. However, there is no proposal that a new ‘community of practice’ should be ‘created’ (seeWenger 1998; for the problems inherent in such an assumption); instead, success seems linked to working with existing communities rather than trying to create new social structures. Finally, successful resource use requires learning design, interpreted as helping practitioners to base their practice on an understanding of student learning, designing to support this.’

4. What do the authors mean by ‘reverse engineering’ of their practice by the participants on the workshops? (page 33)

Reverse engineering – ‘teachers began to build up a representation of their own teaching through deconstructing the model presented.’

5. How does Wenger’s concept of reification help you to understand why pedagogical models cannot just be ‘given’ to practitioners with any hope of their being implemented successfully? (page 36)

A reification, Wenger proposes, is something that a community produces through its shared practice. It may be an outcome of practice (e.g. something that is produced, such as a lesson plan) or may reflect the process of practice (e.g. guidelines on how to design lessons).

The way in which representations or labels ‘stand for’practices is,Wenger (1998) argues, highly problematic. In this context, the models that are described above are reifications of design practices.

Reifications emerge from practice, but they do not define it.

Different factors, such as context and practitioner & learner experience.

6. Nevertheless, why are reifications necessary for sharing practice, particularly between practitioners from different contexts?

Practitioners are given a starting point. Commonising design and then the practitioner can tweek it to needs that arise in his own situation.

Reifications might also be used to align practice to institutianal aims and objectives.

In Wenger’s view, then, the meaning of any model is situated, arising from the way that particular communities attempt to appropriate them.


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