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Methodologies in Cultural-Historical Activity Theory: School-based Development as an example

Much research shows that the best arena for teachers’ learning is their own school. The teachers together with the leaders at the school can thus form a learning community. To know what they aim for in their learning processes, the teachers need a focus, and they need to have a common object that guides their work. The object in activity theory is the true motive, and therefore such an object has to be constructed. In formative interventions (Engeström & Sannino, 2010) the problem or the starting point for development is a problem perceived of the practitioners. The researchers’ role is to sustain and provoke expansive transformation process led and owned by the teachers. The researchers can help the teachers during the process when they construct the object. This is not a straight forward process, because people can perceive or “sense” the “meaning” of the object in different ways. The researchers’ role here is to be patient at lead the teachers and their leaders in discursive processes that can lead to a common object which really can be the true motive that want to act on. Then, the next step is to find contradictions or tensions in the activity system that can be the driving force. In this processes the teachers can come to that they want to improve their practice with regard to classroom management and that they want to use observation and reflection as learning tools. The next step is that teachers through discursive processes find the germ sell, what they want to focus on in their learning and development processes, what the question for their development is. The next step is to conduct analyses to find out how they had done (historically) and what they actually do (empirically) with this question guiding their analyses. The researcher can develop research questions throughout the development process, and conduct data gathering and, furthermore, analyze this data material. The article with the title “Methodologies in Cultural-Historical Activity Theory: The example of School-based Development” shows that traditional qualitative research methods can be used in intervention research. A model that shows the complex role of the researcher in such research is also presented in the article. The article has the following reference:

Postholm, M.B. (2015). Methodologies in Cultural-Historical Activity Theory: The example of School-based Development. Educational Research, 57(1), 43-58.

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