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“Intermediate Theory” Building: Integrating Multiple Teacher and Researcher Perspectives Through In-Depth Video Analysis of Pedagogic Strategies


by Sara Hennessy & Rosemary Deaney — 2009

Background/Context: This work draws on a “participatory” approach to research collaboration that respects the teacher’s “voice” in building on and extending the interactive “colearning” agreements between researchers and practitioners that work toward improving practice. Both parties in these agreements act as agents of (reflexive) inquiry, actively participating in rigorous and systematic joint analysis and contributing interpretative insights.

Focus of Study: This article describes and reflects on a collaborative approach to the analysis of digital video recordings of classroom activity. Our primary focus was assisting teachers to make explicit the pedagogical rationale underlying their practice. A key aim was to draw on sociocultural perspectives to develop a shared, grounded account of the processes through which teachers strategically mediate subject learning, in the context of using projection technology. The process of collaboration itself is our focus here.

Participants: Four UK teachers, one in each of four secondary subject areas (English, mathematics, science and history), and their students aged 12–15, took part in the research. The teachers were all experienced, reflective practitioners. The research collaboration also involved a colleague of each teacher, two researchers (the authors), and academic subject specialist colleagues.

Research Design: A case study design was used to collect qualitative observational data.

Data Collection and Analysis: Teachers were observed over six lessons each and interviewed four times. They also collaborated with us in critical scrutiny and discussion of lesson videos during a series of four recorded meetings, making underlying rationale explicit and identifying emerging themes. Student perspectives were sought through two focus group interviews in each case. Copies of student work and all lesson materials and outlines were collected, screen displays were captured, and each teacher kept a diary (unstructured) recording his or her planning, decision making, and/or postlesson reflections. Interview transcripts, individual commentary, meeting notes, and diaries were thematically analyzed using HyperResearch software.

Findings: The dialogic process culminated in development of “intermediate theory” bridging between teachers’ perspectives on supporting learning in specific settings, and key constructs from sociocultural theory. Hence, a priori theories were elaborated, integrated, and reframed using a common language.

Conclusions/Recommendations: The findings are being exploited through coconstruction and dissemination of a set of interactive CD-ROMs. These characterize the key themes and strategies emerging within and across cases, with illustrative video sequences for each case in turn hyperlinked to professional development activities and relevant aspects of the narrative accounts.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 111 Number 7, 2009, p. 1753-1795
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 15305, Date Accessed: 4/21/2014 11:02:12 AM

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About the Author
  • Sara Hennessy
    University of Cambridge
    E-mail Author
    SARA HENNESSY is lecturer in teacher development and pedagogical innovation in the Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge. Previously she worked at the Institute of Educational Technology at the Open University. She has a bachelor’s degree and PhD in psychology. Her research focuses on pedagogy underlying the use of digital technology to support subject teaching and learning in secondary schools—predominantly in mathematics and science. Currently she is investigating and documenting pedagogical approaches that exploit the affordances of the interactive whiteboard, including dialogic classroom interaction. Her work draws on and develops a sociocultural perspective on teaching and learning, and aims to bridge between theory, teacher thinking, and classroom practice. She has recently published in Learning Media and Technology, Studies in Science Education, Computers and Education, International Journal of Science Education, and the Curriculum Journal.
  • Rosemary Deaney
    University of Cambridge
    E-mail Author
    ROSEMARY DEANEY is a teaching and research associate in the Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge. She has a background in teaching and training across a wide range of educational settings, and she currently lectures in research methodology. Her research interests include the use of digital technologies in teaching and learning in secondary schools, and she holds a master’s degree in IT in Education. She has worked with Dr. Sara Hennessy and Professor Kenneth Ruthven on several funded projects in this area, including supporting teachers in developing their classroom technology use through action research. Her work has a focus on teacher thinking and development, and she is also investigating experiences of new science teachers during their early career years. She has recently published in Research Papers in Education, British Educational Research Journal, Learning Media and Technology, Computers and Education, and School Science Review.
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