ERG SES D 03, Interactive Poster Session
At the beginning of the new century, in order to address the social problems affecting Europe in a more sustainable way, the Bologna process and the Lisbon strategy have pushed the European Union to enhance its educational system, shifting from an old-fashioned idea of knowledge and education to new standards based on challenging concepts as society of knowledge, human capital, lifelong learning, competence and systemic and systematic school evaluation. For this reason, these last two decades can be recognized as an intense period of scholastic reforms involving all the EU member states, each individually responding to the European requests, with a huge difference in achievements and results.
In Italy, the reforms have promoted several changes in two different directions. On one hand, policymakers have been recognizing the functional autonomy of schools on important issues such as didactic experimentation, curriculum organization, research on teaching and learning; on the other hand, they have identified a set of learning outcomes, curricula innovations and a schooling evaluation system to implement the new European standards (Ciarini & Giancola, 2016). Recently, several studies have described the Italian school as a “school in trouble” (Ascoli & Pavolini, 2016), involved in a “cultural revolution”(Allulli, 2016)and socially unappreciated (De Conca, 2016). Adapting an old-style model of interpreting knowledge and its transmission/acquisition to the new dynamic understanding of education may result into slow changes and ineffective implementation strategies ( Milione & Landri, 2011; Landri & Queirolo Palmas, 2004).
Literature on educational change suggests that these resistances and this slowness in the system are due to the fact that educational change is a very complex process and that its effects can be delayed, especially if reform-induced with a top-down approach. In fact, to be successfully implemented, it needs the conceptualization of the new ideas at different levels in the system and the overlap of several making-sense processes according to the stakeholders involved, their role and their functional interplay (Kolmos et al., 2015). In this process, teachers are definitely considered essential with the task to translate general indications and outcomes in concrete and relevant learning experiences for their students. Many scholars have identified exploring their opinions, expectations, reactions and commitment as crucial to activate more successfully reform-based educational change implementations (Jones, 2014; Anghelache &Bentea, 2012; Day & Smethem, 2009).
This study is a part of a doctoral project. It aims to investigate the reactions of a group of Italian teachers to a curriculum innovation, issued in 2012 by the Italian Minister of Education, involving the Early Childhood and the First Cycle of Education. After six years from their official implementation, these national guidelines for new curricula have produced such a diverse context-related scenario, transforming teachers’ role and pushing for a new interpretation of the educational process. Based on a case study about a comprehensive institution in the Italian central region of Lazio, this part of the research intends to investigate: 1. How these specific stakeholders have been conceptualizing the new didactic model and transforming their daily practice, 2. How they have perceived the evolution of their role and professionalism, as well as 3. To identify perceived barriers or support in the change process, especially in the implementation phase.
This investigation is part of a wider mixed method research project based on a case study, taking a qualitative approach. For this part of the research, semi-structured interviews have been elected as main method to collect data. The interviews were carried in April 2017 and amongst the case study population of 134 teachers, 15 volunteered for the interview: 3 out of 15 were from the Early Childhood school; 5 from the Primary school and 7 from the Low Secondary school. The interviews were carried as informal conversations. They were mostly held in the school environment and lasted no more than one hour. Also, they were delivered individually in order to make the teachers feel more comfortable and free in answering. The interview content was based on the results of a previous survey, delivered to all 134 teachers in September 2016. The survey results revealed some contradictions in teachers’ conceptualization process of innovation and the way they were supporting the implementation of the new didactic model in their daily practice. That discordance has been investigated in depth with the interview questions. The question formulation and their sequence were completely influenced by the natural evolution of the conversation and generated by the teacher’ sensitivity to one topic rather than the others. The interviews were recorded on a PC and later transcribed and analysed with the software NVivo. The analysis process involved a thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006), based on an open coding process, and culminated in the definition of some recurrent categories and themes, describing how the reform has influenced the teachers’ perception of their role and their professionalism, and at what extent this perception has influenced their response to the reform, in-forming or de-forming their practice in the classroom.
The results show the complexity of influences and pressures teachers have been exposed to during these last years. It also suggests how demanding and challenging their role is in mediating the political requests, the social expectations, their own professionalism and some structural inefficiencies. In particular, they argue that the reform criteria, defining the new learning outcomes, describe a didactic model they have been using in their classrooms since their professional expertise intuitively recognized those criteria as crucial in order to propose effective learning experiences to their students. This overlap between new models and consolidated practices have deformed their conceptualization process and the perceptions they have about their professional development. They are experiencing frustration and discouragement due to the commitment to attend general teaching-style-improvement courses that are based on an impersonal and too theoretical approach to the innovation rather than on an interactive and self-developing experience that would link to the complex context of their daily practice. In addition, their demotivation has been intensified, on one hand, by some structural school inefficiencies – lack of appropriate spaces and laboratories, resource exiguity to create different and more stimulating learning environments, difficulties to participate to different types of training courses – and, on the other hand, by a stressing, overloading production of documents, reports and papers requested to trace the process. Finally, these negative feelings influence teachers’ attitude to collaboration and their job’s social value perception, revealing a deep solitude as the most dominant aspect of their professional life. Nevertheless, these teachers’ personal experience regarding reform-based educational change in context may suggest some possible organizational solutions to this condition of dissatisfaction and tension. The research task should translate individual response patterns into shareable strategies to concretely support reform implementation.
Allulli, G. (2016). From the Lisbon Strategy to Europe 2020. CNOS-FAP, pp.114. http://www.cnos-fap.it/pubblicazione/lisbon-strategy-europe-2020 Anghelache, V.; Benţea, C. C. (2012). Dimensions of teachers’ attitudes towards educational change. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 33, pp. 598–602. Ascoli, U., & Pavolini, E. (2016). Una scuola in affanno. Nota introduttiva. (A school in trouble. An introductory note). Italian Journal of Social Policy, 2, pp.7–16. Braun, V. and Clarke, V. (2006) Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3 (2), pp. 77-101. Ciarini, A., & Giancola, O. (2016). Le politiche educative in Italia: tra spinte esogene, cambiamenti endogeni e diseguaglianze persistenti. (Educational policies in Italy: between exogenous drives, endogenous changes and persistent inequalities). Italian Journal of Social Policy, 2, pp Day, C.; Smethem, L. (2009). The effects of reform: have teachers really lost their sense of professionalism?”. Journal of Educational Change, 10 (2–3), pp. 141–57 De Conca, M. (2016). Riflessioni sulla scuola e sul suo ruolo sociale (nel nord Italia). (Reflections on the school and its social role (in northern Italy). Italian Journal of Social Policy, 2, 45–60. Jones, A. (2014). Perspectives on change: a study of the multiple dimensions of changing teaching. Teaching in Higher Education, 19 (2), pp. 170-182 Kolmos, A., Hadgraft, R.G. and Holgaard, J.E. (2015). Response strategies for curriculum change in engineering. International Journal of Technology and Design Education, 26 (3), pp. 391–411 Landri, P., & Queirolo Palmas, L. (Eds.). (2004). Scuole in tensione: un’indagine sulle micropolitiche della scuola dell’autonomia. (Schools in tension: a survey on the micropolitics of the school autonomy). Milano: FrancoAngeli. Milione, A., & Landri, P. (2011). 150 anni d’istruzione. (150 years of education). In S. Avveduto (Ed.), Italia 150 anni: popolazione, welfare, scienza e società. Roma: Gangemi Editore.
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.