How is dissemination for action achieved amongst in-service primary school teachers?

Hopwood-Stephens, I (2019) How is dissemination for action achieved amongst in-service primary school teachers? In: BERA Annual Conference, 9 - 11 September 2019, University of Manchester, UK.

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It is the intent of many researchers to disseminate their findings. In the field of educational research, it is often hoped that the knowledge being disseminated will not only reach a target audience of in-service teachers, but also influence their practice. According to King (2003) there are three levels of dissemination for educational research outputs: dissemination for awareness, understanding or action. Dissemination for action is the most likely to result in the target audience effecting changes to their practice, but research outputs that require the target audience to disseminate them among teaching colleagues put this process beyond the control of the academic research team (Southwell et al., 2010). The processes and activities entailed in dissemination for action within a primary school are therefore of interest to the educational research community, but are currently under-specified in the literature. There is a need to improve academic research teams’ understanding of what dissemination for action by a member of their target audience might entail, and the conditions of a teacher’s workplace which might enable or inhibit these learning processes. This paper is drawn from a study of the dissemination and adoption of a resource intended to help Science Subject Leads to evaluate and improve their colleagues’ assessment practice in primary science. It was conducted within an explanatory sequential mixed methods design (Creswell, 2013). Using King’s levels of dissemination as a theoretical framework, it draws upon scholarship within the inter-related fields of knowledge transfer (Aalbers, Dolfsma and Koppius, 2014), communication theory (Harris and Nelson, 2008) and schools as workplaces (Hodkinson and Hodkinson, 2005) to explore and exemplify how dissemination for action takes place between colleagues within a primary school setting. Statistical analysis of online survey data from one hundred users of the resource identified expansive workplace characteristics (Hodkinson and Hodkinson, 2005) and social learning activities that were significantly associated with reports of whole school changes to assessment practice. Using the quantitative analysis results as the basis for further enquiry, two case study schools were drawn from the online survey participants. A systematic coding process within Braun and Clarke’s (2006) thematic analysis framework revealed a diversity among participants’ preferences for social learning opportunities. In doing so, the role of informal as well as formal contacts in effecting school-wide changes to assessment practice was also demonstrated. The analysis also suggested that the social learning opportunities and decision-making processes involved in the schoolwide adoption of this new assessment framework were underpinned by a transactional communication style (Harris and Nelson, 2008). This paper will use the study findings to argue that dissemination for action amongst colleagues in a primary school setting is therefore a social process of articulation, interpretation and negotiation. In specifying the activities entailed in dissemination for action within a primary school setting, it will also be argued that transactional communication between colleagues underpins and enables the social learning and decision-making processes involved in whole-school changes to practice. The extent to which the wider workplace characteristics enable or inhibit these social learning processes will be briefly considered. The paper will conclude with a summary of the implications for research teams attempting to achieve dissemination for action through their target audience, and considerations for school leaders wishing to facilitate ongoing professional development within their workplaces.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Keywords: dissemination for action, primary teachers
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1501 Primary Education
Divisions: School of Education
Date Deposited: 25 Apr 2022 16:24
Last Modified: 25 Apr 2022 16:24
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