Supervision 5

This week I had my 5th supervision meeting; the discussion covered a lot of ground, starting with epistemology and ontology, theoretical frameworks, models of analysis, concepts to be examined in literature, designing methods and planning a pilot study. It’s beginning to feel like a PhD!

Theoretical frameworks

I’ve been tentatively getting closer to Margaret Archer and critical realism. We had a good thrashing around of the structure and agency model I’m planning to use but I’m also going to have a look at the input/output regulation model that Mark has mentioned to me before as I think it will have something interesting to offer the study. The agency/ecology framework should allow me to look at the whole environment (ecology) and observe and analyse what people are bringing to the situations; the way relationships are configured through social so structural, cultural, individual and also material conditions could be analysed. It would also allow for consideration of the influence of external ideas, e.g. how cultural forms such as policy get mediated in the environment by individual. This led us on to a further discussion of recontextualisation which has come up before – I need to seek out some Bernstein reading.

The bigger challenge will be to draw eclectically from different models and come up with my own model for analysis that makes sense of my questions.


We discussed in quite a lot of depth about methods and methodology. I’d never really considered ethnography before but I can see that it may have something to offer – this would require careful selection of the sites to be studied. There might be some mileage in considering using ethnographic methods, or constructing a case study with ethnographic intent, so these ideas need development.

Case study reading: Stake, Yin, Flyvberg.


The methods I use to find the answers to the questions I ask need to be fit for purpose.  I should aim to be rigorous in the methods and be explicit about what purpose each of them serves and what question each should be seeking to help answer. This will involve further reading on methods. I have thought about using stimuli in interviews and we have done a bit of work on this in workshops, but Mark mentioned Peter Tomlinson and hierarchical focusing which apparently involved anticipating the level of question you want to ask on a scale of specificity – starting the interview with the least specific question then progressing through the hierarchy if necessary, i.e. if you have unanswered questions.  Observation similarly needs to have a clear purpose and report to questions –we have trialled observation as a method for a workshop task but further reading is required.


Further reading

Methodology: Case study reading: Stake, Yin, Flyvberg. Ethnographic methods in educational research

Methods: Interview and observation – sources TBC

Continued reading on critical realism

Bernstein on recontextualisation


Critical piece on professional teacher learning communities

Shared piece on Archer’s structural/cultural social model

Other work

Plan a pilot study for March


About catrionao

I'm a lecturer at UWS and a PhD student at Stirling University, studying a school based practice of teacher professional learning.
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