01 SES 01 B, Organisational and School Learning
Parallel Paper Session
This presentation elaborates on the outcome of a completed research and development project (2006-2009) in a Norwegian comprehensive urban elementary school for grades 1-10, with 40 teachers and 500 students. In this school a team of seventeen teachers collaborated with two outside researchers for two years, in order to develop formative assessment practices in grades 1-5. The project was one of five interrelated projects funded by the Norwegian Research Council (Steen-Olsen & Postholm, 2009), and the overall aim of the project was to cooperate with the entire school society, students, teachers and administration, to develop the school into a learning organisation. The main aim of this sub project was to study the students’, as well as the teachers’ learning processes in a perspective of agency and active participation.
It was set out from the start that the teachers should have a high level of autonomyand thus they decided themselves which fields they wanted to develop together with the researchers. By reinforcing the teachers’ sense of ownership of the project, one of the initial aims was to generate sustainable practices which would endure after the researchers had left the field. Drawing upon know-how that collective ambitions to develop organisations from the inside earlier have given good results, this project was based on a bottom-up design (Senge, 2006). In our subproject the teachers decided to develop their assessment skills by using portfolio assessment techniques in order to improve the children’s metacognitive abilities. Together with the teachers we developed a programme consisting of active student participation in criteria development for obtaining learning goals, and extensive use of learning dialogues for discussing the students’ learning processes and learning achievements. In order to strengthen the teachers’ learning an important aim was to generate collective knowledge sharing among the teachers. We arranged for systematic colleague observations and meeting places for collective reflections and learning.
The research topic for this presentation is to shed light on the teachers’ and students’ learning experiences, framed by the split research question: “What is the significance of active participation in evolving new learning practices for students and teachers, and what is the significance of agency and active participation for a successful result in school development work?
Our data will be discussed in relation to ideas of a participatory democracy and discourses of agency in the knowledge society (Dewey, 1916/1966, Englund, 2004; Hargreaves, 2003; Young, 2010). The discussions will address the students’ and teachers’ learning processes, and the leadership’s role in establishing a learning organisation. Further data will be discussed by contextualizing development work in relation to ideas of school development, central educational reform ideas and local implementation (Bogotch, Mirón & Biesta, 2007; Townsend, 2007). In this landscape the teachers’ strategies will be studied in the light of agency and discursive practices (Chouliaraki & Fairclough, 1999). The students’ learning will be studied in the light of student participation and formative learning practices.
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