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Factors That Influence Transformation of Practice

Findings from PhD research by Dr Christopher Blundell

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A case study of teachers transforming pedagogical practices through collaborative inquiry-based professional learning in a ubiquitous technologies environment.

The integration of digital technologies is positioned as a mechanism to reform or improve schooling through transformation of teachers’ pedagogical practice. Although availability and acceptance of digital technologies in schools has increased, evidence of wide-scale transformation is limited. Digital technologies are most commonly used to enhance existing pedagogies rather than transform them. Analysis of the literature indicates three factors remain unresolved. Firstly, new pedagogies associated with digital technologies are not well understood. Secondly, much of the current research is based on non-ubiquitous deployments and/or early stages of ubiquitous deployments. To date, there is very limited research evidence of the process of transforming practice in well-established ubiquitous technology environments. Finally, limited evidence of wide-scale transformation suggests current professional learning models are inadequate. Transforming pedagogy with digital technologies occurs at the nexus of extrinsic and intrinsic influences on teacher practice, and is complicated by the ever-changing nature of technology.

The purpose of this research was to determine how teachers in a ubiquitous technology environment transform their pedagogical practice using collaborative inquiry-based professional learning. It is a case study of a team of six teachers seeking, over an eight-month period, to consciously transform their practice to realise personalised digital learning pedagogies. The teachers used the Tri-Theory Framework developed by the researcher to contextualise and conceptualise extrinsic and intrinsic influences, and then critique prior practice. Collaborative inquiry positioned the teachers as authors of new pedagogies. The teachers engaged with contradictions in their activity systems and disorienting dilemmas associated with changes in roles, relationships and actions. Degrees of pedagogical transformation and personal transformative learning were detected.

The findings indicate pedagogical transformation was facilitated by collaborative inquiry and was dependent on personal transformative learning. Five factors contributed to pedagogical transformation. Collaborative inquiry gave the teachers authorship of the new pedagogies, allowing them to respond to their context. The Tri-Theory Framework allowed the teachers to contextualise and conceptualise influences, and critique their practice in preparation for making changes. Trust in collaborative professional learning and openness increased over the project, facilitating exploration of emergent challenges. Experience and student feedback resulted in increased confidence and trust in new pedagogies. The support and encouragement of colleagues facilitated engagement. Each teacher’s personal transformative learning was shaped by prior practice and experience. Teachers with more experience using student-centric pedagogies demonstrated greater transformation. Teachers with a positive attitude to innovation more willingly changed classroom roles, relationships and actions. The degree of transformation was linked to each teacher’s modes of transformative learning. More overt pedagogical changes were associated with frames of reference or habits of mind that valued diverse classroom roles.

This research contributes to understandings about how teachers realise the pedagogical affordances of digital technologies. It elucidates the challenges of transforming pedagogies in the context of a well-established ubiquitous technology environment where enhancing pedagogy with digital technologies is common practice. The findings are significant because they, firstly, highlight the value of teachers using theoretical lenses to understand the complex influences on their practice, and secondly, identify the contributing factors to changes in practice. Implementing new approaches involved personal transformative learning for each teacher. This was shaped by prior practice, attitude to innovation, and willingness to explore new classroom roles, relationships and actions. Collaborative inquiry resulted in increased trust, openness and confidence.

Influences on teacher practice

A range of factors influence the integration of digital technologies in learning and teaching. Read more...

Contradictions

The challenges associated with extrinsic influences on teacher practice in a well-established technology environment. Read more ...

Thesis:
Blundell, C. (2017). A case study of teachers transforming pedagogical practices through collaborative inquiry-based professional learning in a ubiquitous technologies environment. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane.

Other publications about this research:
Blundell, C., Lee, K.-T., & Nykvist, S. (2016). Digital Learning in Schools: Conceptualizing the Challenges and Influences on Teacher Practice. Journal of Information Technology Education: Research, 15, 535-560.

Blundell, Christopher, Nykvist, Shaun, & Lee, Kar-Tin (2015). Conceptualising the challenge of integrating digital technologies in pedagogy. In Finger, Glenn & Ghirelli, Paola (Eds.) Educators on the Edge: Big Ideas for Change and Innovation, Australian College of Educators, Brisbane, Qld, pp. 44-51.


Published: 17 April, 2018
Copyright 2018 by Christopher Blundell

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