We’re improving the quality of teaching”: conceptualising ‘quality’ and ‘change’ using lessons from a current TESSA project

Stutchbury, Kris and Cullen, Jane (2013). We’re improving the quality of teaching”: conceptualising ‘quality’ and ‘change’ using lessons from a current TESSA project. In: UKFIET International Conference on Education and Development – Education & Development Post 2015: Reflecting, Reviewing, Re-visioning., 10-12 Sep 2013, Oxford.

URL: http://www.cfbt-sites.com/UKFIET/pdf/UKFIET%20Conf...


Whilst ‘change’ in educational practices and ‘quality’ in teaching are often used in discourses as taken-for-granted terms in education and development, these are concepts differently constructed across cultural and national contexts. However, it is accepted that a focus on ‘quality’ is required. Student outcomes in Africa are poor and are seen as not contributing to human capability development as much as they could. This is despite many worthwhile and well-intentioned interventions from the international community, designed to promote a more learner-centred approach to education. This paper draws on experience from other disciplines and argues that the field of educational development would benefit from the clear articulation of a theory of implementation so that project designers better understand the processes through which new practices become routinely embedded in everyday life. We will argue that Normalisation Process Theory (NPT) could form the basis of such a theory. We will draw on experiences gathered during the Teacher Education in Sub Saharan Africa (TESSA) Teaching Lower Secondary Science project in order to explain the basic tenets of the theory. The theory identifies four generative mechanisms through which new practices become embedded; we will argue that one of these – cognitive participation – has been neglected and that understanding this mechanism in particular is crucial to the success of educational development projects.

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