UBC Theses and Dissertations
Working the network : initiating a new science and technology course Hepburn, Gary Roy
This study explores the introduction of a new applied physics course into a British Columbia high school during the 1994-1995 school year. The course was part of a provincial effort aimed at making science and technology education more responsive to the workplace. Data collection took place during the first year the applied physics course was being piloted at the school and focused on the pilot teacher and the applied physics classes, but also involved others inside and outside the school who had a connection to the course. A variety of methods were used in data collection including interviews, observation, and document analysis. Using actor-network theory and sociocultural theory, the focus of the research is on the networks that were constructed at the pilot school and at the provincial level where the course was conceptualized and developed. The research describes how the teacher and other network builders attempted to enroll various human and nonhuman actors into the networks they were constructing in support of the course. They did this by convincing the actors that the course was compatible with their interests. The types of actors that were enrolled, the sociocultural communities they belonged to, and what it took to convince them to support the course are shown to shape the way that the course was enacted in the classroom. In addition, it is demonstrated that the network that was constructed at the provincial level had only a minor connection to the one the teacher was constructing at the school level. The lack of contact between the two networks meant that the interests of those who were involved in organizing the applied physics pilots at the provincial level were seldom taken into account in the course at the school. Fourteen conclusions are drawn about the networks that were constructed and the network building process at both the school and provincial levels. These conclusions have implications for policy in educational change initiatives and for addressing problems that emerge when cross-subject courses are introduced. The research also develops a new theoretical approach that will contribute to advancing research on educational change.
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