Teachers’ Curriculum Making as Relational Practice: The mediating role of reflexivity and networks



Hizli Alkan S (2021) Teachers’ Curriculum Making as Relational Practice: The mediating role of reflexivity and networks. Doctor of Philosophy. University of Stirling.

This thesis explores teachers’ curriculum making practices, with a particular attention to teachers’ reflexivity and networks – two key topics that attract much interest in research and policy. The thesis adopts a mixed methods approach to explore curriculum making and to delve into a range of meanings and experiences attached to teachers’ practices. Scottish and Welsh contexts, where teachers are seen as key change agents and where large-scale curriculum reforms have been undertaken, frame this research. This study uses some theoretical and philosophical concepts derived from: • Margaret Archer’s Internal Conversation Theory • Pierpola Donati’s and Margaret Archer’s work on the relationality of human actions • Social Network Theory, and particularly Brea Perry’s and his colleagues’ work on egocentric network analysis • Athasani Chalari’s theory of the mediation between internal and external conversations • Critical realism, and especially the work of Berth Danermark and his colleagues. These concepts are blended to investigate the mediatory role of internal and external conversations in teachers’ curriculum making as relational practice. Drawing from these conceptual tools, I offer an analytical framework to examine teacher mediation of curriculum making in different contexts. This research was carried out with eight secondary school teachers; 6 from Scotland and 2 from Wales. Research activities involved: • 16 full-day participant and non-participant observations (2 days in each school setting) • 8 semi-structured interviews • 8 internal conversation interviews • 8 network interviews • 7 participant-produced reflective diaries • 8 Internal Conversation Indicator results. Following a critical realist data analysis, this research offers three generative mechanisms that create the empirical events pertaining to curriculum making. First, teachers’ modes of reflexivity, distinctive ways of projecting actions, based on teachers’ concerns and by means of their environment, offer strong theoretical and methodological explanations of why teachers take certain standpoints, follow particular reasoning processes, and act upon curriculum reforms in various ways. Second, relational assets (relational goods and evils) that emerge from teachers’ curriculum making relationships offer explanations as to why certain practices might be enhanced or inhibited. Finally, the national and organizational context, more particularly, schools’ formal organization, curriculum reform as a chain of organic interactions, and performativity culture, explain teacher mediation of curriculum making. The thesis concludes with some implications and suggestions for future research, and policy/practice.

curriculum making; critical realism; teacher agency; reflexivity; networks; curriculum for excellence; curriculum for Wales

FundersScottish Government
SupervisorsProf Mark Priestley; Dr Valerie Drew
InstitutionUniversity of Stirling
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Qualification levelPhD
Publisher URL

People (1)


Dr Sinem Hizli Alkan
Dr Sinem Hizli Alkan

Lecturer (Primary Education), Education