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Theory of practice architectures to understand possibilities and constraints in principals’ improvement practices
Halmstad University, School of Education, Humanities and Social Science, Centrum för lärande, kultur och samhälle (CLKS), Lärande, Profession och Samhällsutveckling.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9293-0445
2019 (English)In: NERA 2019, Education in a Globalized World. 6-8 March, 2019, Uppsala, Sweden: Abstract book 2019-03-06, 2019, p. 890-891Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Research Topic: This paper illustrates how we can use theory of practice architectures to understand what becomes meaningful for principals to do in school improvement. We often simplify principals’ possibilities to improve schools, which does not support principals’ improvement practices. Instead, we need to make the complexity in improvement practices visible.

Theory and Aim: The study focus principals’ actions in improvement in relation to context. It takes its departure from ten principals’ improvement concerning conditions for enterprise education. The research questions are: 1) what do principals do in a school improvement work and how do their actions change over time, and 2) how do the context form their actions?

Methodology: The analysis is based on the theory of practice architectures (Kemmis, et al, 2014). A practice is formed by sayings, doings and relatings that hang together in a project. A project is what a practice is aiming for. Furthermore, cultural-discursive, material-economic and social-political arrangements shape and constrain the practice. So how a practice turns out is dependent on cultural-discursive, material-economical and socio-political arrangements. By analysing projects in principals’ improvement work, I show what principals are trying to uphold and what dilemmas they are trying to solve in their practice. By analysing the arrangements, I show why some projects overshadow other projects.The participants are a team of eleven upper secondary school principals at the same school. The research object was the arena where the principals met to discuss, reflect on and to create conditions for enterprise education. The empirical material, collected during one year, consisted of field notes from observations of joint principal meetings, transcripts from focus group conversations with the principals about their improvement practices, and of principals’ as well as mine written log notes.

Findings: The results show six practices competed on the arena where the principals where supposed to work with the improvement work. Three of them enabled the intended improvement practices. The other three constrained the intended practice. In addition, over time they overshadowed the first three. Cultural-discursive arrangements like abstract ideas of what the principals´ were supposed to created conditions for as well as social-political arrangements like asymmetric relationships between the principals and expectations from the local school board on quick solutions enabled practices that constrained the planned change. What became meaningful for the principals engage in were not the planned improvement practice, but other already existing practices.

Relevance to Nordic research: With the theory of practice architecture, it becomes obvious why school improvement from principals point of view is challenging. Analyses based on the theory contributes to the discussion about what kind of arrangements could support principals to motivate, initiate and lead school improvement. It also shows the importance of analyzing every unique context when planning improvement work to be able to understand what needs to be changed to strengthen principals’ improvement practices.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. p. 890-891
National Category
Pedagogical Work
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-41166OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hh-41166DiVA, id: diva2:1376055
Conference
Nordic Educational Research Association (NERA 2019), Uppsala, Sweden, March 6-8, 2019
Available from: 2019-12-06 Created: 2019-12-06 Last updated: 2019-12-17Bibliographically approved

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