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Title: The Dampened Curriculum? An Enquiry Into Teachers’ Practices and the Role of Technology Within the Performing Arts Curriculum
Authors: Nicholson, Rebecca Sarah Eales
Issue Date: 2022
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This thesis explores the intersection of English secondary curriculum policy, teachers’ practices and beliefs, and educational technology within the performing arts. It was motivated by the changes in curriculum policy in England, including the EBacc and Progress 8 measures, the renewed focus on the curriculum in the Ofsted guidance, and the subsequent impact on the Performing Arts in English Secondary Schools. As such, it has two specific purposes. First, the thesis develops an in-depth understanding of how the curriculum entangles teachers’ practices, beliefs and values within the Performing Arts. Second, the thesis examines the potential role of technology in facilitating teachers’ enactment of the Performing Arts curriculum. Fifteen performing arts teachers (11 music and four drama) were recruited for the first stage of the thesis. A critical realist methodology guided the analysis, which sought to understand teachers’ practices and beliefs relating to the Performing Arts Secondary Curriculum within three domains of understanding: the empirical (teachers’ experiences and observations), the real (the school-level practices that impact teachers’ practices) and the actual (the wider policy environment). Exploring these three domains revealed that teachers’ practices are impacted by school-level interpretations of wider educational policy, resulting in a ‘dampened curriculum’, where teachers are enacting practices that are not congruent with their disciplinary understandings of what teaching and learning should be. It also found that Performing Arts teachers’ current uses of technology, while commonplace, are impacted by disciplinary challenges, with mobile technologies often being leveraged against school policy to compensate for specific limitations with space and place in performing arts classrooms. The second stage of the thesis reports a longitudinal co-design process with the Head of Performing Arts in a school in the North East of England. Over 18 months, three different orchestration tools were designed and used in the classroom before being evaluated for their potential role in facilitating teachers’ enactment of the curriculum as conceived by the teacher. The findings show that orchestration with and of technology offers the potential to support teachers’ enactment of complex socio-cultural pedagogies in the performing arts classroom, where they are congruent with their epistemic beliefs. This thesis contributes to the current understanding of the impact of English curriculum policy on Performing Arts Teachers’ practices, expounding the theory of the ‘dampened curriculum’. It also extends the current conceptualisation of orchestration, suggesting that it offers a way of supporting the enactment of teachers’ pedagogies within complex policy environments.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences

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