Academic journal article Outlines : Critical Practice Studies

Intervention Research in a Public Elementary School: A Critical-Collaborative Teacher Education Project on Reading and Writing

Academic journal article Outlines : Critical Practice Studies

Intervention Research in a Public Elementary School: A Critical-Collaborative Teacher Education Project on Reading and Writing

Article excerpt


This paper discusses the methodological organization of an intervention project - Reading and Writing in Different Areas - conducted during two years (2010 and 2011) in a public elementary school located in Säo Paulo, Brazil's largest city, attended by students from low-income households. The school had been poorly evaluated by a Säo Paulo State indicator of public schools teaching-learning quality, based on students' mastery of reading and writing.

The project is inserted in a Critical Research Paradigm (Bredo & Feinberg, 1982). It focuses on how to organize an intervention project in a school context, involving the school as a whole. It mainly aimed at understanding and critically discussing literacy practices and the interest they serve, regarding students' constitution as readers and writers. According to Magalhäes and Fidalgo (2007), in an intervention research developed within a Critical Paradigm, the primary role of applied linguists, as researchers and teacher educators, is "to involve tackling language-bound issues as means for organizing type of thought here defined in critical reflective term, i.e., as a type of thought that might allow individuals - actual agents of their own thought - to probe into their routine practices'' (p. 329).

In other words, a critical intervention aims to build collective contexts for collaborative knowledge production involving all participants in theoretical-practical negotiations that might encourage comprehension, as well as questioning both the meanings conveyed by actions, and the interests that based them. Furthermore, it involves the education of professionals who are conscious of their actions in the constitution of themselves and others with whom they interact. The focus is on jointly questioning themselves and their didactic practices about needs, problems, values, teaching-learning concepts, common objectives, as well as on students' learning and development. It presupposes the deconstruction of discourses and reasoning that were historically constructed throughout their experiences with schooling and teaching (Magalhäes, 2004; Pérez Gomes, 2001; Newman & Holzman; 1999, Smyth, 1992). Thus, deconstructing them means thinking of methodological choices that organize the educational contexts and the interests they serve, so as to allow for new reasoning and acting, leading to social, political and educational transformations, as pointed out by Vygotsky (1921-23, pp. 463-464). However, school contexts are not usually organized in such a dialectical relational structure.

Engeström's (2008, 2009) discussions on how to conduct intervention projects in complex contexts supported the project's methodological organization as activity systems, structured as a chain. Based on those discussions, we intended to involve the school as a community that jointly discusses values, ideas, needs and problems, and makes collaborative decisions. This organization allows for the production of a formative context in which the initial object that had triggered the research design process could go through a collective and collaborative movement of negotiation. This collaborative process aimed for a joint reorganization of the initial senses and meanings that were historically built by the school's literacy teaching and learning, as well as the establishment of rules and work division that underlie them. In Engeström and Sannino's (2010, p.6) words, the object "refers to the 'raw material' or 'problem space ' at which the activity is directed' initially. Through dialogic and dialectic relations made possible by argumentative language organization, the object is expanded into new outcomes, by means of a critical collaborative process.

Vygotsky's conception of method (methodology), supported on the Marxist practical materialistic revolutionary activity, bases the emphasis on Collaboration and Contradiction as central to the intentional processes of teaching-learning and development. …

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