Reflecting a heightened research-based awareness of both the decisive importance of and great variability in teaching effectiveness, there are intensifying reform attempts to influence the fine-grained details of pedagogy. Policy aspirations are increasingly expressed in explicit definitions of expectations for pedagogical practice. The policy impact analysis on which this paper is based (Hutchison 2011) investigated the degree to which reform policy connects with teachers’ enacted practice. The study assessed and accounted for the degree of traction achieved by pedagogical policy interventions in Victoria. Teaching was shown to be enacted in ways incongruent with espoused policy principles. To interpret the data the research used theoretical frames drawn from situated cognition, communities of practice, and organizational learning. Despite distinctive origins and emphases, they share a view of applied knowledge, including professional “know how”, as socially-situated and culturally co-constructed; and as primarily tacit, embodied and embedded, rather than explicitly transmissible. Policy objectives are vulnerable to deflection or distortion in enacted practice, and misdirected policy deployment reinforces teachers’ isolation and constrains their capacity for the development of pedagogy as shared professional practice. The policy-practice gap can be better understood in light of the explanations developed, with implications for the ways in which reform approaches need to be reconceptualised.
|Keywords:||Education Reform Policy, Policy Evaluation, Pedagogy, Teachers and Teaching, Professional Culture, Organisational Change, Organisational Learning, Organisational Culture|
Head of School, Secondary School, Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School, Ivanhoe, Victoria, Australia