03 SES 11 A, Curriculum Enactment in Secondary Education
Teachers’ networks have been one of the foci of the curriculum research for a number of reasons such as to understand how curriculum change is mediated in teachers’ communities (Moolenaar et al., 2009) or to analyse what may shape teachers’ networks (Penuel et al., 2009). Research on teachers’ formal networks within their schools contributed to our understanding of school dynamics and how teachers are positioned within their schools. This has, however, some limitations considering teachers’ informal networks (Daly 2010) and what is actually happening in such wider connections and how individual mediates network dynamics (Anderson 2010). Hence, this research, by building on the previous research on teachers’ networks, provides an in-depth understanding of how teachers’ ego-networks, which include formal and informal connections, mediate their curriculum making practices.
Curriculum making is understood as interconnected and multi-layered social and relational practice in which teachers are agents of enacting change (Priestley and Philippou 2018). This study aims to highlight the relational aspect of teachers’ curriculum making practices to contribute to curriculum research.
To achieve this end, the following research questions are addressed: 1. How are teachers’ ego-networks structured and composed? 2. What is the content of teachers’ curriculum making networks? 3. What are the underlying mechanisms for explaining teacher mediation of curriculum making through the networks?
Data analysis was philosophically informed by critical realism (Danermark et al., 2002) and drew methodologically upon a qualitative ego-network analysis (Bellotti, 2015). Descriptive statistics at the network level (density and effective size) were computed to explore several emerging patterns and features of the structural characteristics of the networks (Borgatti and Ofem, 2010). This analysis combined patterns emerging from a quantitative analysis of numerical items (e.g. density) with the narratives of participants in the interviews and meanings attributed to such patterns.
Curriculum making by teachers is a complex social and relational phenomenon. Social interactions of teachers, whether to make sense of curriculum-related issues or to seek different kinds of support, are one way of navigating in this complex territory. In this study, the findings offer three generative mechanisms to explain teachers’ curriculum making practices, drawing upon teachers’ ego-networks: relational goods (e.g. high quality interactions) and evils (e.g. negative ties) (Donati and Archer, 2015); national policy/practice and organisational context (e.g. schools' formal organization); and teacher agency (e.g. rich educational discourse). These have implications for curriculum making, mainly, the need for meso-level support mechanisms and opportunities for teacher professional development.
Daly, A. J. (Ed.). (2010). Social network theory and educational change. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard Education Press. Danermark, B., Ekstrom, M., Jakobsen, L., and Karlsson, J. C. (2002). Explaining Society. Critical Realism in the Social Sciences London: Routledge. Donati, P. and Archer, M. S. (2015) The relational subject. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Perry, B. L., Pescosolida, B. A. and Borgatti, S. P. (2018) Egocentric Network Analysis. Cambridge: University Press. Priestley, M. and Philippou, S. (2018). Curriculum making as social practice: complex webs of enactment. The Curriculum Journal, 29 (2), 151-158.
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