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Activity, engagement and meaning-making: revisiting activity theory to examine creative practice using ICTs
conference contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Susan Davis
This paper will outline research which explored student engagement and creative practice using Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) in a secondary school Drama education context. An activity systems approach was applied to data analysis drawing on Vygotskian theoretical frames and more specifically Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) to understand the importance of contradiction to creative practice using ICTs. The CHAT theoretical frame has emerged from concepts drawn from Vygotsky's work (1978) and other cultural-historical theorists such as Leontiev (1978, 1987). The original concept involved an understanding that learning emerged from human interactions with the environment mediated by tools and signs. CHAT has since been developed through the work of theorists such as Cole and EngestrÃ¶m to take into account the polyvocal nature of collective activity (2003, 2005). This paper will outline how activity theory informed case study research and documents the activity system, participant experiences and meaning making involved in a specific school-based drama project involving the use of Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs). What emerged were contradictions related to the introduction of the ICT tools and significant differences in subject level meaning making and learning from the same collective activity. Subject identity and engagement influenced how activity was read and what was learnt. How the interactions and feedback were responded to, accepted or rejected related to subject notions of the creative self and this led their activity and learning. The findings of the research resulted in a modified version of activity theory to take into account features of creative practice, including subject motivation and engagement, the importance of feedback and how it is processed, and versions of self as outcomes of creative practice.