Learning Rounds and the development of teacher agency: an empirical study in Scottish schools.

Carey Philpott, Catriona Oates

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


"[T]he problem is not that schools don't have access to knowledge. The problem is that they don't have a process for translating the knowledge systematically into practice" (City et al 2009, p.9). Learning Rounds has become a high profile method of teacher learning in Scotland. Learning Rounds was initially informed by the Instructional Rounds developed in the USA by City et al (2009). However, Learning Rounds practice emphasises classroom observation over other aspects of Instructional Rounds such as the 'theory of action'. A theory of action is a "story line that makes a vision and a strategy concrete" (ibid, 40). This needs to be kept open ended or it "ceases to function as a learning tool and it becomes a symbolic artefact, useful primarily as a tool for legitimising ... authority" (City et al 2009 p. 9). This paper uses transcript data from Scottish teachers' Learning Rounds to explore differences in how teachers' observations reflect on what is promulgated as good practice. That data is drawn from four transcripts of Learning Rounds debriefs from four different schools each in a different local authority. The debriefs involved twenty six teachers in total. In some data ideas of good practice are largely unquestioned. In other data teachers reflect on how their observations might refine ideas of good practice; they feed into a developing theory of action. The implication is that increased focus on developing, rather than accepting, theories of action in Learning Rounds will promote teacher agency and challenge the "rhetoric of conclusions" (Clandinin and Connelly, 1995) emanating as theories of action from other sources that can limit this agency.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 19 Nov 2014
Externally publishedYes
EventScottish Educational Research Association Annual Conference 2014 - University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 19 Nov 201421 Nov 2014


ConferenceScottish Educational Research Association Annual Conference 2014
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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