Cyclonic Transactions as Cultural Ecological Mechanisms for Investigating Change and Facilitating Action Research in Education

Cyclonic Transactions as Cultural Ecological Mechanisms for Investigating Change and Facilitating Action Research in Education

Andrew Creed (Deakin University, Australia) and Patrick Dillon (University of Exeter, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6046-5.ch057
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Abstract

The aim of this chapter is to draw together two theoretical perspectives on the dynamics of educational change and propose a contemporary integrated framework as an analytical tool for use in education. A cultural ecological framework, which views the individual as an integral part of the environment and places significance on interaction with the environment in the context of daily work, is integrated with a cyclonic transactional framework, which emerges from recent research on online education and traverses hermeneutical, transformational mechanisms. The cyclonic transactional framework forms a bridge between abstraction and lived experience, which are both at the heart of the cultural ecological framework, and provides a mechanism through which learning relationships may be explored. The augmented and integrated framework, developed from historical and current explorations, is a tool that can assist policy development, implementation, and evaluation for both classroom and online education.
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The Cultural Ecological Framework (Cef)

Early foundations in the literature dealing with cultural ecology in the education field are informative (Naess, 1989; Waddock, 1991; Ryland 2000; Walck, 2003) and more recent contributions, some focusing on indigenous cultures, have highlighted the benefits and challenges of adapting education through the perspectives of complex, cultural layers and organic networks (Jolly, Whiteman, Atkinson, & Radu, 2011; Wilcock & Brierly, 2012). Within a cultural ecological framework, environments are seen as spaces shaped by the experiences, presences and practices of people through their everyday activities. The ‘shaping’ is an outcome of the interactions and transactions that take place within the environments. Interactions and transactions arise from peoples’ perceptual and conceptual engagements with environments. Perceptual engagement is ‘lived experience’; it is co-constitutional in that the environment and the ‘in the moment’ behaviours of the individuals concerned mutually shape each other. In conceptual engagement, individuals draw on recalled experience and knowledge; their being and knowing is an abstraction of reality and is relational, that is, it relates to normative ways of being in the world and established bodies of knowledge (Bayliss & Dillon, 2010). The co-constitutional and the relational are constantly re-forming each other in ways that are themselves co-constitutional and relational.

As Marton (1993) observes, systematic understanding of the world is derived through cumulative organization and rearrangement of experientially acquired understandings of the world. However, the way we represent the world through our educational, organizational and managerial systems is substantially relational, that is, it emphasizes the structural outcomes, the cumulative abstractions of being in the world. These interrelationships are shown diagrammatically in Figure 1. The CEF has been refined through action research in a university setting where students were contextualizing their use of information and communication technology (ICT) (Vesisenaho & Dillon, 2013).

Figure 1.

Cultural Ecological Framework (CEF)

Key Terms in this Chapter

Revise: The second stage of the CTF where ‘chaos at the edge’ of learning interactions emerges as transactional forces gain substantial momentum and go beyond a tipping point.

Cultural Ecological Framework (CEF): A conceptual representation of teaching and learning environments as spaces shaped by the experiences, presences and practices of people through their everyday activities. The ‘shaping’ is an outcome of the interactions and transactions that take place within the environments.

Cyclonic Transactional Framework (CTF): A conceptual mechanism that articulates a reveal-review-revise-reconstruct spiral for tracking changes in the cultural ecology of teaching and learning situations.

Lived Experience: Perceptual engagement with one’s environment that creates ‘in the moment’ experiences and mutually shapes the behaviours of the people involved.

Hermeneutical: Of the nature of hermeneutics, which refers to the cyclical, continuous improvement of understanding originally ascribed to interpretation of biblical texts but extended later to include other documentary sources.

Review: The first stage of the CTF which marks the beginning of an inward spiral of further events moving to a state of ‘delicately balanced power’ as the spiraling force of change builds and becomes capable of altering the interactions between teacher and learner.

Reconstruct: The third stage of the CTF which indicates a transformational passage that happens after the passing storm of change has revealed opportunities for reconfiguration of educational practices.

Perturbations: Disturbances of the normal arrangement or state of equilibrium of a system.

Reveal: The fourth stage of the CTF expressed as the end points of the cyclonic transaction, or the feedback loops, where new beginnings emerge with the potential of new spirals of learning.

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