Same, same but different' – Action research in two local sites in Sweden

Year: 2012

Author: Ronnerman, Karin, Olin, Anette

Type of paper: Abstract refereed



The site in this paper is pre-school where educational action research is used for development. The purpose is to understand how educational  action research is carried out due to social-political, material-economic and cultural-discursive dimensions and how a) these practice architechtures (Kemmis & Grootenboer, 2008) enables and contraints the development on different practices in the local authority and b) how these practices hang together in the development of action research in a specific site - a preschool.


Two local sites were chosen in which early childhood teachers were enrolled in a yearlong program of action research. To get hold of different practices in a local authority teacher teams, the principal and the director were interviewed in two local sites. They represent three practices (and different levels in the organization), which are supposed to have an impact on one another. The Nordic “free room” theory (Berg, 2003) in combination with the practice architecture theory is used to analyze the data. According to the free room theory the outer boundaries of the school as an institution is composed by rules-, results-, frames- and goal-steering and within those boundaries there is a scope for action at the school organization level. Through the lens of practice architecture “sayings”, “doings” and “relatings” as different dimensions in practice are analysed.


Impact from one practice on another is clearly shown in how the directors in both local authorities talk (sayings) about action research as not only a project limited in time and economy (goal-steering). All teachers should be involved and different steps have been taken (doings) to manifest this involvement, (e.g. the first early childhood teachers who were enrolled in the program have been engaged as facilitators for other teachers (frame-steering). This shapes new relations between facilitators, principals and director (relatings) who cooperate (operations) around the development of educational action research.


The comparisons between the two local sites show similarities but also differences in the light of practice architecture and how the free-room is used at the educational site. It is important that steering has a counterpart of operations to enable on-going educational development.  If steering and operations are not aligned there is a risk to build in constraints instead. We argue that it is important for a local authority to take into account how the practice architecture can enable further development.