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Looking at school development through a development leaders’ perspective

Författare och institution:
Anette Olin (Institutionen för pedagogik och specialpedagogik)
Publicerad i:
Paper presented, and published in the conference proceedings, at the ICSEI-conference,
Konferensbidrag, refereegranskat
Sammanfattning (abstract):
Objectives and purposes: There is a new kind of position in Swedish schools today which is called ‘development leader’. It answers to the demand on schools to take responsibility locally for school development work. In this study a development leaders work in a specific school during one year was investigated. The aim was to understand school development work through the practitioners’ perspectives. The focus therefore was placed on interpretive work in collaborative settings, e.g. meetings, when dealing with change processes. The main questions addressed were, ‘what does interpretations between the development leader, the teachers and other professionals in a school look like?’ and ‘in what ways are interpretations related to the school development work undertaken in a specific practice?’. Perspectives or theoretical framework: The aim of using specific hermeneutic concepts was to describe the essence of interpretation when practitioners deal with development work at a school. Ricoeur describes humans as narrative creatures who create stories about their lives in order to be able to understand the flow of events that they are a part of. Essential aspects of interpretation in this perspective are communication and critical self-understanding. Mainly three concepts from Ricoeur’s theory have been used for analyzing the empirical material, namely mimesis (the connection between understanding and action), practical wisdom (the critical function of understanding and/or action) and communities of communication (the necessity of the other to be able to understand better) . Modes of inquiry and data sources: This is partly a self-study of my own work as development leader and therefore the interpretations in the school development work and in the research work are not two separate processes, but rather a single unified process. To create a necessary distance in the work of interpretation writing and explanations are used as methodological tools for widening the understanding. Main data is the logbook of my work as development leader but also recorded meetings and interviews with the teacher teams about their view of the development work at the school. The description of change here is essential and via the adoption of a hermeneutic view actions and events spread over time have through a narrative activity been converted to stories about change. The forming of narratives have been conducted through the following activities: 1) an open reading of the empirical material in order to allow the text to speak to me, 2) a structured, analytical phase where the thematically-ordered stories from the first reading are tested by comparison with the empirical data, in discussions with the professionals at the school, and in discussions with academic colleagues, and, 3) a creative writing process to produce new narratives based on those in the empirical material. The result of this research work is three research-stories about school development, where the first one is about the development leaders ‘journey’ through a year of work. Results and points of view: The results show that, even though the actions of the development leader can be interpreted as a form of responsibility in action, there is nevertheless a need for interpretation, communication, and critical reflection over the consequences in practice, since consequences do not always correspond with the aims of actions. Thus, space for ongoing interpretation processes are of importance in order for professionals to be able to make well-reasoned decisions about their work. Educational importance of this study: By enhancing interpretation as an important aspect of school development work an emphasis on these aspects can contribute to a renewal of the perception of how change and school improvement works. Instead of a continuous and linear process, I described the school as a dialectical and conflictual process, which is required to manage the new situations that constantly arise in the school world. Connection to the themes of the congress: Knowledge about interpretation helps to explain the interplay between policy and practice in education. The development leader has an essential role in the contemporary situation where a pressure is put on the local schools to contribute by taking responsibility for changes that are prescribed by the curricula. In this study also the interplay with research is taken in account since the study is carried through as an action research where the development leader also is the researcher, intervening in the processes under investigation.
Ämne (baseras på Högskoleverkets indelning av forskningsämnen):
Utbildningsvetenskap ->
development leader, local school development, interpretation, action research
Postens nummer:
Posten skapad:
2012-01-12 12:43

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