Bringing Language to Consciousness: Teacher Professional Learning in Genre-based Reading Pedagogy

Acevedo, Margaret Claire (2020). Bringing Language to Consciousness: Teacher Professional Learning in Genre-based Reading Pedagogy. PhD thesis The Open University.



This research aims to better understand the relationship between professional learning (PL) in genre-based literacy teaching and its impact on classroom practice. It is a study of teacher uptake of new knowledge about language and pedagogy based on Reading to Learn professional learning (Rose, 2014) offered to secondary school teachers in London.

The professional learning aims to make the role of language in learning visible to teachers so that it can be used as a tool for teaching in all subject areas. Large-scale action research projects in Australia and Europe have previously cited positive teacher responses to this PL through the use of teacher self-reporting methods (Acevedo, 2010; Coffin, Acevedo & Lövstedt, 2013; Culican, 2005; Rose, 2011a; Rose & Acevedo 2006a; Rose & Martin, 2012; Whittaker & Acevedo, 2016). Despite the teacher reports indicating shifts in theoretical positioning and pedagogy with a consequent impact on student learning, data focusing on the specific nature of the classroom implementation has been lacking.

This research, undertaken in England, draws on a range of empirical data to study the uptake of the professional learning by observing the practice of a group of teachers who took part in the PL and focusing in detail on the case of one history teacher’s implementation. Using tools drawn from Systemic Functional Linguistics (Halliday, 1978) for discourse analysis and multimodal analysis (Kress & van Leeuwen, 2001), the teacher learning process is examined via the analysis of lesson preparation and classroom implementation. Additionally, to gauge the teacher’s level of consciousness about the impact of the PL on her classroom teaching, the implementation data is compared to the teacher’s perceptions concerning her learning about language and pedagogy.

The use of both discourse and multimodal analyses revealed the complexities in classroom implementation that related to issues beyond the new knowledge about language and pedagogy from the professional learning. A range of contextual factors that impinge on teacher uptake of the new learning and the classroom implementation were discerned by an examination of the broad policy and theoretical contexts beyond the classroom.

In spite of the impinging factors, this study nonetheless provided detailed empirical evidence of how a teacher consciously developed and implemented significant new knowledge about language and pedagogy from the PL in the classroom. The congruence of the classroom implementation data with the teacher’s perceptions about the learning process demonstrated that the teacher was largely conscious of her own learning process. The precise articulation of the teacher’s linguistic and pedagogical practices at each stage of implementation made visible a ‘linguistically informed pedagogic pathway’ (Coffin, 2006, p. 92) for discipline-based literacy teaching. These findings are particularly relevant to the language teaching context in England where the call for the past century for all teachers to become teachers of English has not yet been translated into practice.

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