Site based development: A Norwegian example

Year: 2012

Author: Furu, Eli Moksnes, Lund, Torbjörn

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


In this paper we focus on a co-professional learning network where researchers, teachers and principals are involved in a national program to improve assessment for learning in Norway. The intention of the local co-professional program is to facilitate professional learning by using dialogue conferences as tool for innovation and reflection. Twenty schools are working in the network, each represented by a developmental group, working with new ideas about assessment for learning. The overall intention of the co-professional learning program is to develop and stimulate different site based practices related to the key ideas in assessment for learning, using dialogue conferences as a means of both reflection and dispersal of the program's ideas and practices throughout the network.


In this paper we explore how developmental groups pick up ideas in the dialogue conferences, bring them back to their classrooms and shape new practices based on circulating ideas in the network. Inspired by new concepts of ideas which travel in Scandinavian institutionalism theory, we examine how these practices are translated into the school's practice by the same group and how conditions in the particular sites enable or constrain the possibilities for change. We analyze the travel of ideas from one co-professional learning site into site based practice in schools and classrooms. 


As co-researchers we used observations of dialogue conferences, teachers` reflection notes and interviews with teachers and principals participating in the network activities.  We held focus group interviews with each of the groups in their schools, reflecting on the new ideas which had arisen for their classrooms and for themselves as colleagues.


The dialogue conferences appeared to be a site where ideas travelled and teachers and principals carried ideas from one school to another. In order for the idea to become a practice, however, it must become part of teachers' own classroom practices before travelling to the rest of the school. This might be understood as a process of embodying practice.


This embodying process is important when we try to understand travelling practices and the role of translators of ideas into practices. Understanding travelling practices, as we do in Scandinavian institutionalism theory, entails considering this embodying process when we address the translation of practices from one site (such as a dialogue conference) to another site (such as a classroom or school).