A Visual Study of Professional Learning in Closing the Poverty-Related Attainment Gap

Funded by The Carnegie Trust.

Current representations of teacher’s professional learning hide the criticality and collaboration that 51,500 teachers in Scotland need to learn in order to address the education attainment gap between disadvantaged and advantaged children. As a primer for a larger study, this project will develop new representations, using methods from art and concepts from object-centred learning theory, to make criticality and collaboration visible; and provoke new directions in teacher education research. Whilst the education attainment gap is a global concern, Scotland’s classroom teachers, through ‘Curriculum for Excellence’ are leading gap-closing initiatives presenting a unique context for the study of teacher professional learning.

In order to develop new representations of professional learning we need to first identify the objects of collaboration and criticality (also known as ‘knowledge objects’) by undertaking a participatory photographic survey of objects involved in gap closing initiatives (e.g. the teacher’s forward-planning document). Second, we need to understand how practitioner engagement with these objects leads to professional learning by conducting photo-elicitation focus groups, using collages created from the survey photographs. Finally, in order to provoke new directions in teacher professional learning research related to closing the attainment gap we need to develop large-scale collage artworks, accompanied by written commentaries informed by practitioner insights, and exhibit for stakeholders’ feedback

The project includes an international Advisory Group, and a social media strategy that combines website, blog and twitter to promote the progress of the project, invite practitioner/stakeholder feedback and disseminate findings – widening the stakeholder audience (and recruitment pool) for the larger study.

Total award value £12,864.00

People (2)


Dr Maureen Michael

Dr Maureen Michael

Senior Lecturer, Education

Dr Aileen Ireland

Dr Aileen Ireland

Lecturer Professional Educ & Leadership, Education