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Navigating, negotiating and nullifying contradictions in the research around school curriculum change
chapterposted on 02.03.2018, 00:00 by Wendy FassoWendy Fasso, Bruce KnightBruce Knight, Kenneth PurnellKenneth Purnell
Effective change management in the 21st century within the schooling sector relies on many factors including professional learning and the development of relationships in complex cultures. From a research viewpoint, understanding such complex cultures requires considered methodological choices to explore the richness of multiple realities in qualitative study. In particular, research approaches that support deeper insight into the micropolitics of change can support understanding of the motivations of teachers, and the process and outcome of change initiatives. Methodologically, survey research is able to identify and explain the explicit knowledge of teachers, professional learning, and activity, but can overlook their tacit knowledge. Qualitative interviews are able to develop an understanding of explicit and tacit knowledge and can probe the dynamics of relationships within a school community. However, a challenge in contemporary contextual research is identifying and analysing multiple perspectives in which personal and organisational realities may influence communication in networked communities and any implementation of organisational response to change. The addition of social network analysis to the mix of standard methods provides a tool to navigate complex data sets and link them to develop a greater understanding of the interactions and flow of knowledge through an organization. When coupled with the other data sets, social network analysis allows insight into the interactions and manipulations amongst the staff, supporting insight into the micropolitics embedded in their transactions. An example of the use of social network analysis in a qualitative case study will be used to demonstrate how the method explores the roles and influences of individuals and their behaviour in a multifarious environment responding to change. In combination with survey and interview data, social network analysis lends an understanding to the complex inter-personal issues and exchanges without significantly adding to the data load of the study. The method is a promising technique for investigating the complex world of qualitative research.