Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS: http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.576301
Title: Cultural-historical activity theory and additional support needs decision-making processes in a Scottish local authority : partnership working as a learning zone intervention
Author: Colville, Tracey
Awarding Body: University of Strathclyde
Current Institution: University of Strathclyde
Date of Award: 2012
Availability of Full Text:
Access through EThOS:
Access through Institution:
Abstract:
The area of enquiry is a Scottish local authority decision-making process for specialist educational provision for children with additional support needs (ASN). The study had two aims. Firstly, to evaluate the extent to which Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) and Developmental Work Research (DWR) are useful analytical and intervention tools for local authority organizational change processes (Engestrè€om 2007b, 1987) and secondly, to contribute to the change process of local authority policy and practice for children with ASN. Education professionals and authority officers participated in the study which utilized a flexible case study design. The empirical investigation involved three workshops based DWR interventionist methodology, the aim of which was to consider stakeholders' views of the problems associated with the PAG process and to consider the change potential of authority systems. Ethnographic data from two internal authority studies of the PAG process together wit h case study presentations was used as 'mirror' data in the empirical investigation as catalysts for critical discussion. A CHAT analysis of workshop transcripts illuminated hypotheses about systemic contradictions within the process. Contradictions were hypothesized in terms of CHAT concepts of tools, division of labour and rules and the extent to which they mediated the PAG decision-making process. Key themes included ineffective assessment methodology and decision-making criteria, problematic multi-disciplinary working and partnerships with parents, lack of clarity of the role of the educational psychologist, the persistence of traditional categorization of need, and the PAG process as overly complex and non-transparent. Inclusion and special education discourses permeated all of the themes. The authority decision-making process was viewed as a network of activity systems undergoing a cycle of expansive learning and development, artificially provoked via the DWR work intervention, applying Vygotskian notions of dual stimulation and the zone of proximal development (ZPD) as mechanisms to mediate collective learning and change. The cycle of expansive learning reflected a collective journey through the ZPD of the PAG process, mediated by the researcher-practitioner, during which established practice was first challenged via a historical analysis and then developed in consideration of future professional practice. The extent to which expansive learning and knowledge development had occurred in the DWR workshops was assessed against key turning points in discussion, the development of new instrumentalities and participants' evaluation of the workshop sessions. As the object of PAG activity was expanded, key turning points included an initial focus on the decision-making process, then on wider developments to promote inclusive practice and finally on a re-structuring of the authority service delivery model. The expanded object of activity reflected collective le arning in the ZPD of the PAG process, evidenced in a shift in participants' understanding of the PAG process from everyday understandings to a more theoretical, systems-based understanding. Evidence of impact of the DWR intervention on policy and practice was demonstrated via analysis of new policy documentation, professional discourse in strategic working groups and external validation by Inspection processes. The DWR workshops were viewed as a 'marginal microcosm' of the wider authority context with 'centripetal potential' to make inroads into central structures and processes. A key contribution to the authority change process is that the PAG decision-making process has been re-configured as case management review groups (CMRGs), located within the re-structuring of ASL services and in alignment with the new Children's Services Delivery Model (GIRFEC). Allocating specialist provision is no longer a separate process; rather it is part of a coherent, systems-based approach, the principles of which are progressive and proportionate intervention with an emphasis on presumption to mainstream. Findings support the thesis that CHAT and DWR provide a theoretical, conceptual and methodological framework within which to undertake historical analysis of contradictory professional practice to gain a system-based understanding of complex work settings leading to organizational change and observable impact on policy and practice.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ed. D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.576301  DOI: Not available
Share: