Recommended reading: Mapping the Way to a More Equitable Future for Education

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In the latest #MappingTheWay webinar, we focused on the complexity of the issues educational practitioners are trying to tackle. We discussed the implications this has for the type of information they need, as well as the importance of developing a culture that is conducive to embracing this complexity.

This month’s recommended reading focuses on debates around complexity and so-called ‘wicked problems,’ as well as exploring intangible but crucial questions around school culture and ethos.

Introducing Wicked Problems

In their seminal 1973 article, Rittel and Webber set out ten features of ‘wicked problems’ and the implications these have for how we use evidence.

Critiquing Wicked Problems

In this 2019 paper, Turnbull and Hoppe question Rittel and Webber’s original theory, arguing that these so-called Wicked Problems are not in fact distinctive. Instead they suggest a continuum of ‘problematicity’.

Defining School Ethos and Culture

As part of a 2010 publication, my co-authors and I asked, What gives a school its ethos and culture and how do different elements of a school community interact to generate it? We argue that rather than depending on any individual aspect of a school, ethos and culture emerge from coherence and consistency between common experience; community symbols and institutional practices; and, shared values and beliefs.

Comparing and contrasting school cultures

In a major comparative, qualitative study, colleagues and I conducted 2-day case studies, speaking to teachers, governors, parents, pupils and leaders and observing many hours of school-life in different parts of England. The study focused on the characteristics, intensity and consistency of the distinctive cultures we found, including the way schools’ approached data. 

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Research Matters

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Research Matters is our free biannual publication which allows us to share our assessment research, in a range of fields, with the wider assessment community.