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The wicked problem of responsive research design: Shifting early career primary teacher professional learning and dialogues about literacy

Gardiner, V.ORCID: 0000-0002-8638-5487 (2016) The wicked problem of responsive research design: Shifting early career primary teacher professional learning and dialogues about literacy. In: Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE) Conference 2016: Transforming Education Research, 27 November - 1 December 2016, MCG, Melbourne, VIC.


Early career primary teachers currently navigate a backdrop of standards-based reforms and accountability mechanisms. Recently in Australia, these reforms have been articulated through broad-scale federal government policy initiatives such as StudentsFirst, and the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership's Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. In the rationales of these ensembles, professional learning is often equated with implementation of standardized 'best practices', purported to lead practitioners toward quality teaching and learning. However, sociocritical researchers in Australia suggest such reforms are problematic in light of empirical findings, pointing to a concomitant narrowing of content and formats in relation to literacy practice and teacher learning processes.

This presentation draws on a study incorporating Multiliteracies theory, Cultural Historical Activity Theory, and critical perspectives on teacher professional learning. From this vantage, the study aims to support rich professional learning for teachers through contextually sensitive, socially dynamic and dialogic opportunities. Additionally, the study aims to position early career teachers to negotiate tensions between standardized approaches to literacy learning, and contemporary approaches resourcing sociocultural and communicative diversity. Methodological flexibility emerged as an ongoing, complex and 'wicked' problem in developing this positioning. This complexity lead to deep entwinement of theoretical rigor and methodological adaptability, particularly when seeking ways to: access teachers in diverse metropolitan, regional and remote locations of Western Australia; build relational and dialogic connections across this broad geographical terrain; and facilitate context-relevant interactions through social media and face-to-face formats. This entwinement is viewed as pivotal for transformative educational research in the current Australian landscape, and for informing sociocritical debate in the field of teacher professional learning.

Item Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
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