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Observations: a vehicle for enabling learner voice and developing expert learners

HALL, Valerie (2014) Observations: a vehicle for enabling learner voice and developing expert learners. Doctoral thesis, Staffordshire University.

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Abstract or description

When we watch an expert perform, how does that inform our own knowledge and skills in that subject, or establish what our potential might be to become a ‘better’ learner? There is much policy and rhetoric around the development of this ‘expert’ learner through ‘Learner Voice’ initiatives, yet this is a sparsely researched area. Mainly anecdotal, with poorly documented methodology, it is also heavily biased towards compulsory-aged education. This study, set within Further Education, adds to knowledge by providing evidence of how learners can improve the quality of teaching, and their own learning, through direct involvement in reflection and discussion with teachers. It also considers the implications of this for those involved: learners, teachers, the organisation and wider policy.

Using an action-research model, and observations, eight volunteer participants from a teacher training curriculum area engaged with this study: two ‘learners’, each paired with a different ‘teacher’ for the observation; three teaching staff who were ‘observed’; and the curriculum area manager. Interviews were conducted throughout the research, with main participants interviewed up to three times to draw out their phenomenological interpretations and reflections.

Working within a community of learning, with multiple points of interaction and ‘layers’, two theoretical frameworks were used in analysing the interviews: communities of practice and ecological learning systems. Finding them insufficient in isolation, to improve the data analysis, and the nuances of these layers – ‘micro’, ‘meso’, ‘exo’ and ‘macro’ – a ‘continuum of practice’ was devised to combine these frameworks. Additional theoretical concepts – self-efficacy, self-esteem, self-concept and self-categorization theories – were also used to interpret evidence of an individual’s sense of identity and their perceived trajectory. Evidence suggests interactions within observation partnerships, including those observed, were influenced by the theoretical framework embedded within that interaction: an appropriate framework approach can enhance the quality of outcome from these collaborations.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty: Professional Development
Depositing User: Valerie HALL
Date Deposited: 26 Sep 2014 11:56
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2023 13:41

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