The Knots between University and School as Starting Points for the Development of Teachers’ Practice: A Theoretical Working Hypothesis Based on Historical-Cultural Psychology

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One of the most important challenges for teacher training is the lack of understanding of the relations between the knowledge of teachers and their practice. Traditionally, these relations have been conceptualized from a positivist epistemology, by means of what Schön (1983, 1987) has labelled “technical rationality”. This author proposes that a change in such epistemological position could open new paths for the understanding of those relations.
We propose here a working hypothesis aimed at the conceptualization of the relations between the knowledge and practice of teachers from a constructivist epistemology. We propose that teachers construct, or define, the situations in which they have to act. From a Vigotskian approach, we propose that the artefacts that mediate the definition of the situation are functionally and structurally specific, and completely different than theoretical artefacts. We denominate these specific artefacts as “practical artefacts”. Basing on Engeström’ Activity Theory we propose that practical artefacts, like theoretical ones, are distributed in the Activity System, in our case, school. The teachers’ use of an artefact as a mediator depends deeply upon its distribution in the Activity System in which those teachers act.
School and university are two different Activity Systems, and the distributed artefacts are different as well. This means that certain artefacts generated in the university system in order to be used in school system can not be used in school unless they are distributed in this system. Therefore, in order to teachers’ practice change, the whole system of school has to change as well. Engeström (2001) proposes that a system of activity can be developed when interacts with other different systems of activity basing such interaction on a knot, or a partly shared object. We propose that one of the knots between university and school is the teacher students’ practice period in schools.


Keywords: Teachers Practice, Systems of Activity, School, University, Practical Artefacts, Historical-Cultural Psychology
Stream: Teacher Training and Professional Development
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Development of Teaching Practice, The


Marc Clarà

Department of Developmental and Educational Psychology, University of Barcelona
Barcelona, Spain


Teresa Mauri

Department of Developmental and Educational Psychology, University of Barcelona
Barcelona, Spain


Ref: L09P1397