The concept of orientation in teachers' thinking and practices in business education
Orientation is a major, but still developing, concept in the account of learning in an activity-theoretical framework. In this thesis orientation will be conceptualised as forming a basic idea of an object (phenomenon, activity, action, performance) to be learnt, and an idea of how to proceed towards the object. The research project of this thesis stems from activity-theoretical developments that have taken place at the Teacher Education Institute of the Finnish Business College (FBC) in Helsinki. The study will analyse nine cases of business college and polytechnic teachers to explore how they appropriate the new concept of orientation in their thinking and practices. At the beginning of this longitudinal study most of these teachers were completing their teacher education in the Institute. The thesis is based on the distinctive and internationally appreciated, yet relatively little known tradition of activity theory. When dealing with the complicated relation between individual and society, the cultural-historical activity theory concentrates on such problem areas as objects of human activity systems and mediation. The study follows teachers for three years to discover stages or transformations when appropriating the concept of orientation. The focus will be on teachers' developing interpretations about the concept and on their corresponding practices with orientation. The thesis will theorise the following aspects of the data connected to the concept of orientation: (1) mediation and modelling, (2) representations of the object of learning, (3) the conception of active learner, connected to (4) the new concept of "Student's Space" in particular.