LINGUIST List 14.238

Thu Jan 23 2003

Diss: Applied Ling: Wu "Teachers' 'Knowledge'..."

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  1. z.wu, Applied Ling: Wu "Teachers' 'Knowledge' and Curriculum Change..."

Message 1: Applied Ling: Wu "Teachers' 'Knowledge' and Curriculum Change..."

Date: Thu, 23 Jan 2003 09:42:43 +0000
From: z.wu <z.wulancaster.ac.uk>
Subject: Applied Ling: Wu "Teachers' 'Knowledge' and Curriculum Change..."


New Dissertation Abstract

Institution: Lancaster University
Program: Department of Linguistics and Modern English Language
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2002

Author: Zongjie Wu 

Dissertation Title: 
Teachers' 'Knowledge' and Curriculum Change: A Critical Study of
Teachers' Exploratory Discourse in a Chinese University

Linguistic Field: Applied Linguistics

Dissertation Director 1: Norman Fairclough
Dissertation Director 2: Dick Allwright


Dissertation Abstract: 

This dissertation is an investigation of a teacher initiated
curriculum change that happened at Zhejiang Teachers' University,
China, with a particular focus on the reconstruction of teachers'
personal understanding through their exploratory practice. The
investigation started from a narrative inquiry into the participants'
personal experience of the change, which explored the experiential
meanings of their endeavour to show how they reclaim the authority of
their own stories within a shifting landscape that was filled with
sacred and covered stories. The narrative was then penetrated using
activity theory as a further step to understand the teachers' learning
process in terms of a developmental zone. The trajectory of the
practice is explicated by analysing the interrelationship between
identity, knowledge, institutional structure and communities of
practice, with special attention paid to the emergence of the new
curriculum object. The analysis shows that the curriculum change takes
the form of 'expansive formation' where teachers' understanding of the
new object precedes their consciousness, which gives a fresh view to
the episteme of non-institutional change action. For a better
understanding of the discursive facet of the change process, the study
took a further attempt to see the curriculum practice as a macrogenre
and staff meetings as networked social practices. The former was made
in order to understand the reconstruction of curriculum
rationality. It was recognised that the particular pedagogical
discourse is shaped through recombining and mixing various disembedded
genres dispersed in the network of social practices. The dynamics of
curriculum practice lie in its recontextualization process in relation
to the participants' social life. The analysis of three meeting texts
gives a critical overview of discourse change in contemporary Chinese
society, which specifically reveals the meaning of the curriculum
innovation in terms of power stake for redrawing teachers'
professional discourse, but generally offers an understanding of the
role of language in constructing people's knowledge. Drawing upon the
implications of the study, it is argued that teacher research and
curriculum development could be undertaken in the form of Heidegger's
marginal social practices against a background of lifeworld as a way
to nourish authentic understanding and to resist the domination of the
discourse of modernity.

The thesis is an interdisciplinary study which draws upon various
contemporary social theories: Fairclough's critical discourse
analysis, Habermas' theory of communicative action, Engestrom's
activity theory, Bhaskar's critical realism and Clandinin & Connelly's
narrative inquiry. In terms of methodology, the study adopts a
philosophy of critical realism, in which the research object is
ontologically interpreted as three strata of reality, i.e. experience,
event and structure. With this concern, I developed an approach
combining three analytical strategies, i.e. narrative inquiry,
activity theory and critical discourse analysis; each is oriented to
understanding a particular level (mode) of social reality. A special
attempt was made to formulate a framework of explanatory critique,
which was set to investigate the networked social practices through
the analysis of actual text.

Key words: teacher knowledge, curriculum change, critical realism,
genre, activity theory, critical discourse analysis, narrative
inquiry, exploratory practice
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