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Title: Learning from classroom experiences : a sociocultural analysis of teaching
Author: Khan, Sonia
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2020
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This thesis seeks to investigate how teachers transform subject content for student learning in classrooms. Research on teacher expertise has downplayed the framing of macro-regulative contexts; views expertise as a skill that might be acquired stagewise over time; and defines expertise in terms of attributes. By means of examining teachers identified for their consistent exemplary performances over a period of time within their school community, this study provides insight into the combination of processes involved in the conceptual progression of subject content and through that reframes an understanding of teacher expertise. The study draws from both psychological and sociological fields. Deriving from the works of the educational psychologist, Vygotsky, the basic premise of the study is that an individual's thinking is situated in society. With reference to classroom teaching and learning situation, Vygotsky (1978, 1987) refers to micro processes in terms of students thinking and understanding of the subject content being shaped by classroom discourse. He brought to focus the teacher's role in mediating learning in classrooms through the use of psychological tools but could not fully, in his lifespan, attend to the sociocultural contexts that impact those who work within them. In order to address this gap, the study draws on the educational sociologist Bernstein's social theory (1990) which states that the ways in which institutions regulate the social relations within them impacts on the pedagogic practices in these contexts. The study also draws from Holland, Lachicotte, Skinner and Cain's (1998) concept of figured worlds to conceptualise the way teachers design pedagogy. Several teachers of English and mathematics from secondary schools in Oxfordshire were observed. Data were generated in three ways for each lesson observed: think aloud protocols were used to record lesson planning; classroom observation and video recording of the lessons; stimulated recall and semi-structured interviews were used for post-lesson debriefing with the teacher. The purpose was to gain insight into the teacher's thinking of the minute-by-minute decisions they took for teaching the subject content for learning. Data were analysed in the light of sociocultural and sociological theories in several phases, among these were: analyses of the school contexts; writing school descriptions; narrative analysis; and thematic analysis. The study deconstructs the notion of quality of teaching through a sociocultural analysis of teaching and learning in classrooms. It forges a connection between the micro processes of teaching and learning and macro regulative discourse; it demonstrates that teachers' pedagogic decisions are influenced by their reflections on their personal sense of experiences and by their institutional culture within which and by means of which they work. The study demonstrates an interplay of several processes in the ways in which teachers mediate and shape the quality and conceptual progression of their students' learning. It calls for a required shift in viewing teacher expertise not as a skill acquired stagewise over time but viewing it as the capacity of teachers to operate by means of sociocultural contexts as psychological tools in order to transform subject content for their students' learning and in shaping the quality of teaching.
Supervisor: Elliott, Velda ; Thompson, Ian Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Learning from classroom experiences ; Sociocultural analysis of teaching