Using Activity Theory to analyse the
implementation of the Science Extended
Curriculum Programme (ECP) at the
University o...
What am I trying to do ?
• Analyse (examine, study, scrutinise) the implementation
of the Science Extended Curriculum Prog...
UWC Science ECP
• Designed to increase participation and improve the
performance of under-prepared students in higher
educ...
About Programme Evaluation…
Scriven, M. (1991) Evaluation thesaurus,
fourth edition. Newbury Park: Sage.
Patton, M.Q .(201...
Shortcomings of evaluation methods
Dominant approaches to programme evaluation centre
around analysing the effects of sing...
Why use activity theory?
AT provides a language, a holistic framework and a
methodology for analysing educational practice...
What is activity theory (AT)?
• AT or Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) is a set
of basic principles constituting...
Activity System ( unit of analysis)
(tools) mediating artefacts for teaching and
learning e.g. learning materials, compute...
Contradictions
• All of the elements in activity system influence each
other and are influenced by social, cultural and hi...
Premises for CHAT
• Basic CHAT assumption :activity and consciousness are
dynamically interrelated in strings of collabora...
Premises for CHAT
• More recently, Stetsenko (2005, p. 74), has argued that
“ three processes underlie human life and deve...
Research Goal
Explore a group of coordinators‟, lecturers‟, teaching
assistants‟, students‟ and tutors‟ views about the
ef...
Research Questions
1. How do the ECP coordinators, lecturers, teaching
assistants, students and tutors experience their
in...
Subjects (40)
Coordinators (5); Lecturers (5);Teaching Assistants (5)
Tutors (5);Students (20)
Participation is voluntary....
semi structured interview template
1. Clarifying purpose of the activity and analysing the
context including division of l...
how am I planning to use AT?
• Reconstruct activity systems reconstructed from
• individual and collective perspectives.
•...
Data collected so far…
• Conducted 5 interviews ( too early to make conclusions)
• Preliminary results indicate that there...
Benefits of using activity theory
1. Provides a clear evaluative framework for comparison
of experiences and practices.
2....
References
1. Engeström, Y. 1999. Activity theory and individual and social
transformation. In Perspectives on activity th...
Thank you!
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Presentation teaching & learning colloqium july 2013

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This is a presentation about an attempt to use Activity Theory as a programme evaluation methodology. Engagement with this theory shows that it has a language, a framework and a methodology , if used appropriately, could revolutionise programme evaluation.

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  • The unit of analysis represents the minimum elements of an object-oriented, collective and culturally ,mediated activity.The basic elements include the subject, object, tools, community, rules and division of labour. The main focus of an activity is the production of an outcome (object)mental or physical. The subject an individual or group determines that there is a need or motive to fulfil, the object. Using the tools the subject moves towards accomplishing the object producing an outcome.The community members set rules and norms under which the subject operates and establish how the community members organise. All of the elements influence the others and are influenced by social, cultural and historical factors . Each activity is surrounded by other activities. Internal contradictions and tensions within and among the elements lead to transitions and transformation.
  • Presentation teaching & learning colloqium july 2013

    1. 1. Using Activity Theory to analyse the implementation of the Science Extended Curriculum Programme (ECP) at the University of the Western Cape Rita Kizito Jaques Elengemole University of the Western Cape Teaching & Learning Colloquium 19 July 2013
    2. 2. What am I trying to do ? • Analyse (examine, study, scrutinise) the implementation of the Science Extended Curriculum Programme (ECP) in terms of how participating individuals ( lecturers & students) experience their involvement in the programme. • Uncover the merits ( as well as shortcomings) of a programme designed to increase participation of under- prepared students in higher education science. • Programme Evaluation.
    3. 3. UWC Science ECP • Designed to increase participation and improve the performance of under-prepared students in higher education science. • Addresses five learning areas: Physics, Life Sciences, Introduction to Science, Mathematics and Statistics. • Students enrolling for this programme receive additional and intensive support in these learning areas, allowing them to complete a three-year B.Sc. programme in four years.
    4. 4. About Programme Evaluation… Scriven, M. (1991) Evaluation thesaurus, fourth edition. Newbury Park: Sage. Patton, M.Q .(2010 ).Qualitative research and evaluation methods. Sage Publications: Incorporated.
    5. 5. Shortcomings of evaluation methods Dominant approaches to programme evaluation centre around analysing the effects of single variables on learner performance and are useful for understanding the impact of several factors individually.` They do not offer a comprehensive view of how events, activities and processes shape the learning environment and its participants (Patton, 2010).
    6. 6. Why use activity theory? AT provides a language, a holistic framework and a methodology for analysing educational practices that shape the implementation of a learning programme by: • availing ways for describing and explaining individual and social practices, separately, or as integrated entities (theoretical). • offering a holistic, analytical tool for evaluating human learning or developmental processes at both individual and group levels, in different learning domains and at disparate levels of complexity (methodological).
    7. 7. What is activity theory (AT)? • AT or Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) is a set of basic principles constituting a conceptual system for describing and analysing human mental functioning and behaviour ; or a socio-cultural and historical framework and methodology for holistically analysing human activity systems (Vygotsky 1978; Leont‟ev 1979; Engeström 1999; 2001). • Within an activity system, a participant (subject) whose agency is the focus of the analysis, acts on and transforms an (object) producing an outcome through mediating influences of other factors such as community, division of labour and rules.
    8. 8. Activity System ( unit of analysis) (tools) mediating artefacts for teaching and learning e.g. learning materials, computers, language, concepts, teaching methods subject ( lecturer, student, TA, tutor) Object ( teaching/learning) point outcome ( better student performance) rules of the programme ECP Community division of labour
    9. 9. Contradictions • All of the elements in activity system influence each other and are influenced by social, cultural and historical factors . Each activity is surrounded by other activities. Internal contradictions and tensions within and among the elements lead to transitions and transformation. outcome outcome
    10. 10. Premises for CHAT • Basic CHAT assumption :activity and consciousness are dynamically interrelated in strings of collaborative processes involving material production and social exchanges (Marxist ideology). • To Vygotsky (1978), social exchanges between people were pivotal to individual development and occurred through cultural mediation. • Leonte‟ev (1979) was more interested in analysing how the material forms of activity were transformed into individual psychological processes. • Engeström (2001) is credited with developing the activity system model currently being used to describe and analyse activity systems and to vouch for a theory of expansive learning.
    11. 11. Premises for CHAT • More recently, Stetsenko (2005, p. 74), has argued that “ three processes underlie human life and development – the material production of tools, the social exchanges among people, and the individual mechanisms regulating this production and these exchanges”.. “activity and consciousness are dynamically interrelated”
    12. 12. Research Goal Explore a group of coordinators‟, lecturers‟, teaching assistants‟, students‟ and tutors‟ views about the effectiveness of the ECP curriculum as a pedagogic entity for science teaching in order to gain in-depth understanding of implementing the science ECP curriculum in a higher education context.
    13. 13. Research Questions 1. How do the ECP coordinators, lecturers, teaching assistants, students and tutors experience their involvement in the ECP? 2. What are the internal and external contradictions within the activity system of ECP curriculum provision and implementation? How can they be resolved? 3. What recommendations and possible models of how to address these contradictions emerge from this evaluative project?
    14. 14. Subjects (40) Coordinators (5); Lecturers (5);Teaching Assistants (5) Tutors (5);Students (20) Participation is voluntary. • Semi structured interviews to solicit information about student experience and teaching practice. • Observations focussing on classroom environmental factors and teaching practices including tool use ,teaching practice and events. Etic (outsider ) & (emic) (engaging). Main data sources
    15. 15. semi structured interview template 1. Clarifying purpose of the activity and analysing the context including division of labour, rules, norms and regulations. 2. Motivation. 3. Life history (prior experience) and critical incidences 4. Tool use ( mediating artefacts) both material/physical tools and mental tools. 5. Participant perceptions and emotions regarding interview methods.
    16. 16. how am I planning to use AT? • Reconstruct activity systems reconstructed from • individual and collective perspectives. • Compare teaching „worlds; and „learning worlds‟ • Search for tensions ( contradictions) evident both within and between systems.
    17. 17. Data collected so far… • Conducted 5 interviews ( too early to make conclusions) • Preliminary results indicate that there are different conceptions of teaching ( transforming the individual/inculcating the relevant skills). • No clear agreement about rules and division of labour in the ECP.
    18. 18. Benefits of using activity theory 1. Provides a clear evaluative framework for comparison of experiences and practices. 2. Allows focus on: • detail of experience within a particular context • the individual in relation to others, and within a context of a collective, social and cultural system (Vygoskian idea) • An aggregated description and examination of experiences and practices
    19. 19. References 1. Engeström, Y. 1999. Activity theory and individual and social transformation. In Perspectives on activity theory, eds. Y. Engeström, R. Miettinen and R.L. Punamäki. Cambridge: University Press. 2. Engeström, Y. 2001. Expansive learning at work: Toward an activity theoretical reconceptualization. Journal of education and work 14(1):133-156. 3. Leont‟ev A.N. 1979. The problem of activity on psychology. In The concept of activity in Soviet psychology, eds. J.V. Wertsch. 4. Patton, M.Q .(2010 ).Qualitative research and evaluation methods. Sage Publications: Incorporated. 5. Scriven, M. (1991) Evaluation thesaurus, fourth edition. Newbury Park: Sage 6. Vygotsky, L. S. 1978; Mind in society: the development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge: Harvard university press
    20. 20. Thank you!

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