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Textes de la 7e session

Présentation de textes des intervenants

Abstract de Paul Cobb

Abstract et bibliographie de Jaakko Virkkunen

Abstract et texte d'Yves Matheron et Serge Quilio

Abstract et articles de Catherine Lewis


Paul Cobb : Towards an Empirically-Grounded Theory of Action for Improving the Quality of Teaching at Scale

Research on the teaching and learning of both mathematics and science has made significant progress in recent years.  However, this work has had only limited impact on instruction in most US classrooms.  For the past seven years, my colleagues and I have collaborated with mathematics teachers, school leaders, and educational system leaders in several large urban school districts to investigate what it takes to support improvement in the quality of instruction on a large scale.  These partnerships are conducted as design research studies at the system level.  As part of this work, we make recommendations based on the data we collect each year to leaders in each district about how they might revise their policies or strategies for instructional improvement to make them more effective.

In the course of this study, it has become apparent that research can currently provide only limited guidance to school and system leaders who are attempting to support mathematics teachers’ development of ambitious, inquiry-oriented instructional practices. I present the results of our work to this point by considering key aspects of a coherent theory of action for instructional improvement at scale.  These elements include: curriculum materials and associated resources; pull-out teacher professional development; teacher collaborative meetings; mathematics teacher leaders’ practices in providing job-embedded support for other teachers’ learning; school leaders’ practices as instructional leaders in mathematics; and district leaders’ practices in supporting the development of school-level capacity for instructional improvement.  In discussing these elements, I outline a series of a smaller, embedded design studies that we are conducting a part of the larger study to investigate specific conjectures about supporting principals’ and teacher leaders’ development of more effective instructional leadership practices.

Paul Cobb, Vanderbilt University,  Nashville, USA



Article de Jaakko Virkkunen : THE CHANGE LABORATORY. The concept and the research practice

Scientific knowledge and research are necessary not only for managing and controlling the complex activities of a modern society, but also for their creative renewal and development. However, these two purposes call for different kinds of research and research-practice relationships.  For the latter purpose, research is needed that activates previously unrealized developmental potentials in institutional practices. The Change Laboratory is a formative intervention method for such research. Prof. Yrjö Engeström developed the method in the mid 1990s on basis his studies on expansive learning and the experiences gained from the application of the Cultural Historical Activity Theory based Developmental Work Research methodology since the 1980s.

The target of a Change Laboratory intervention is a real, historically evolved and evolving system of object-oriented activity or a constellation of activity systems in the society. In the intervention, the researchers and the practitioners analyse the forms of cultural mediation of the interactions within the activity in order to reveal the inner contradictions in the system that cause the problems practitioners experience in their daily work.  The purpose is to find a way to re-mediate the relationships of interaction in a way that enables the practitioners to better manage the contradictory forces or resolve the contradictions. The intervention also aims at building the participant’s capacity to break away from the given frame of action and take the initiative to transform it. In the intervention, the researchers help the participants to question problematic practices, to analyse the systemic causes of problems in their daily work, to reconfigure the system, and to experiment with new solutions in order to transform the activity system. This the researchers do by producing data and by designing tasks that stimulate the participants to take the kinds of epistemic actions necessary for expansively overcoming the current contradictions in the activity system.

In my presentation I will explain the philosophical and theoretical basis of the method, its basic principles as well as the setting and process of a Change Laboratory intervention and the specific kind of researcher-practitioner collaboration involved. I will point out how the method differs form action research and design-based research. I will also give some examples of the use of the method in school context and discuss the needs and prospects of its further development. 

Jaakko Virkkunen, Prof. emer., Center for Research on Activity, Development and Learning, CRADLE. University of Helsinki


  • The Developmental Work Research Methodology
  • Engeström, Y. (1987). Learning by expanding: An activity-theoretical approach to developmental research. Helsinki: Orienta-Konsultit.
  • Engeström, Y. (2000). From individual action to collective activity and back: Developmental work research as an interventionist methodology. In P. Luff, J. Hindmarsh, & C. Heath (Eds.), Workplace studies (pp. 150-168). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Miettinen, R., & Virkkunen, J. (2005). Epistemic objects, artefacts and organizational change. Organization 12 (3), 437-456.


The Change Laboratory method

  • Engeström, Y. (2007). Putting Vygotsky to work: The Change Laboratory as an application of double stimulation. In H. Daniels, M. Cole & J. V. Wertsch (Eds.), The Cambridge companion to Vygotsky. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Engeström, Y. (2011). From design experiments to formative interventions. Theory & Psychology, 21(4), 598-628.
  • Engeström, Y., Kaatrakoski, H., Kaiponen, P., Lahikainen, J., Laitinen, A., Myllys, H., Rantavuori, J. & Sinikara, K. (2013). Knotworking in academic libraries: Two case studies from the University of Helsinki. Liber Quarterly, 21(3/4), 387-405.
  • Engeström, Y. (2014). Collective concept formation as creation at work. In A. Sannino & V. Ellis (Eds.), Learning and Collective Creativity. New York: Routledge, pp.234-258.
  • Kerosuo, H., Kajamaa, A., & Engeström, Y. (2010). Promoting innovation and learning through Change Laboratory: An example from Finnish Health care. Central European Journal of Public Policy, 4(1), 110-131.
  • Virkkunen, J. (2006). Dilemmas in building shared transformative agency. Activités 3(1), 43-66.
  • Virkkunen, J., & Ahonen, H. (2011). Supporting expansive learning through theoretical-genetic reflection in the Change Laboratory. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 24(2), 229-243.
  • Virkkunen, J. & Newnham, D. S. (2013). The Change Laboratory: A tool for collaborative development of work and education. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.


Change Laboratory interventions in schools

  • Engeström, Y., Engeström, R., & Suntio, A. (2002). Can a school community learn to master its own future? An activity-theoretical study of expansive learning among middle school teachers. In G. Wells & G. Claxton (Eds.) Learning for life in the 21st century: Sociocultural perspectives on the future of education. London: Blackwell.

  • Sannino, A. (2010). Teachers’ talk of experiencing: Conflict, resistance and agency. Teaching and Teacher Education, 26, 838-844.

  • Virkkunen, J., Mäkinen, E., & Lintula, L. (2010). From diagnosis to clients: Constructing the object of collaborative development between physiotherapy educators and workplaces. In H. Daniels, A. Edwards, Y. Engeström, T. Gallagher, & S. R. Ludvigsen  (Eds.), Activity theory in practice: promoting learning across boundaries and agencies (pp. 9-24). London: Routledge.

  • Virkkunen, J., & Tenhunen, E. (2010). Finding a concept that integrates specialists’ know-how–The case of special school for handicapped and neurologically ill children. Actio–International Journal of Human Activity Theory, 3, 1-23.

  • Virkkunen, J., Newnham, D. S., Nleya, P. & Engeström, R. (2012). Breaking the vicious circle of categorizing students in school. Learning, Culture and Social Interaction, 1, 183-192.


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Réflexions introductives de Serge Quilio

Serge Quilio (Université de Nice), Dominique Forest (ESPE de Bretagne, UBO), Gérard Sensevy (ESPE de Bretagne, UBO).
Dans une première partie de l'intervention, nous présenterons ce que nous nommons des ingénieries coopératives, en montrant leur filiation avec les ingénieries didactiques élaborées en didactique des mathématiques francophone, et en les comparant à grands traits aux courants de la Design-Based Research, des Lesson Studies, et du Change Laboratory. Nous insisterons sur le fait que l'une des principales caractéristiques des ingénieries coopératives consiste dans l'élaboration conjointe, entre professeurs et chercheurs, de finalités communes, génériques et spécifiques, pour l'action éducative.
Dans une seconde partie, nous donnerons à voir, en nous appuyant sur deux ingénieries coopératives mises en oeuvre, le fonctionnement concret de ces dispositifs. Parmi d'autres aspects, nous mettrons en évidence la nécessité du temps long, de la longue durée, pour le travail collectif, et nous montrerons en particulier comment cette longue durée, au sein d'un système, amène peu à peu l'ensemble de l'équipe, et particulièrement les professeurs qui font vivre les séquences d'enseignement, à une forme de confiance dans les situations qui constituent l'ingénierie. Nous évoquerons également la question des méthodes propres à ce type de recherche.
Une troisième et dernière partie sera dédiée à des considérations plus générales. Nous définirons la recherche accomplie au sein des ingénieries coopératives à la fois comme fondamentale et comme ingénierique. Fondamentale, parce qu'elle peut contribuer à une anthropologie des pratiques d'enseignement et d'apprentissage. Ingénierique, parce qu'elle peut contribuer à l'amélioration raisonnée de ces pratiques.
En conclusion, nous évoquerons la question du rôle potentiel des ingénieries coopératives dans la formation et le développement  des professeurs et des chercheurs.

Sensevy, G., Forest, D., Quilio, S. & Morales, G. (2013). Cooperative engineering as a specific design-based research. ZDM, The International Journal on Mathematics Education, 45(7), 1031-1043

Texte d'Yves Matheron

Sur les ingénieries de recherche et de développement
Les ingénieries didactiques sont nées en mathématiques au milieu des années 1970, puis se sont développées au cours de la décennie suivante durant laquelle le concept a migré vers d’autres disciplines. Se démarquant des « recherches-actions », elles visaient la production et l’observation de phénomènes afin de construire une théorie des « systèmes didactiques » ; terme souvent synonyme de « classe » (Artigue, 2011), sortes d’isolats étroitement pilotés et contrôlés par des didacticiens. Il s’agit aujourd’hui de s’affronter à une toute autre question : « Comment créer les conditions épistémologiquement optimales d’enseignement d’un savoir dans un nombre significatif de classes ? » (Mercier, 2008).
Suivre cette voie engage à l’étude des conditions et contraintes venues de l’extérieur des systèmes didactiques et de leurs voisinages (système éducatif, société, civilisation), qui déterminent la manière dont les savoirs y sont enseignés et étudiés. Cette orientation entre en phase avec le changement de paradigme scolaire qui se fait jour : passer d’une visite des œuvres à un questionnement du monde (Chevallard, 2006) par la promotion d’une démarche de problématisation (Fabre, 2009) et de recherche engageant les élèves. Les LéA (Lieux d’éducation Associés à l’IFE), qui visent à instruire une question portée par les acteurs d’un établissement dédié à l’éducation, constituent un terrain pour des recherches de type clinique (Ginzburg, 1989 & Leutenegger, 2009) répondant à l’étude de ce changement de paradigme.

Catherine Lewis : Lesson Study as Improvement Science: Continuous Improvement of Teaching, Schools, and Policy

Outside Japan, lesson study (jugyou kenkyuu授業研究) is often thought of as a professional development approach, but within Japan it functions much more broadly–as the preferred method to build continuous improvement of schools, to test and develop innovations, to study new national policies and provide formative feedback on them, and to build cross-school networks and disseminate instructional improvements.  I regard lesson study as a form of improvement science, an applied science that draws on the disciplines of sociology, psychology, and statistics, and that is rooted in the work of W. Edwards Deming.  This paper will provide examples of lesson study as it supports teachers’ knowledge development, organizational development, network development, and policy development and dissemination. Improvement science and experimental science will be contrasted, with respect to their paradigms for scale-up of knowledge, including: (1) the nature of the knowledge that is scaled up; (2) the treatment of variation; (3) the measurement of change; and (4) the optimal improvement conditions.  Examples from Japanese schools will illustrate the emphasis of lesson study/improvement science on “profound systems knowledge” within an organization; improvement as integration of research-based and systems knowledge; practical measurement of a collaboratively developed theory of change; and capacity to learn from dramatically different sites (e.g., across national boundaries).

Catherine Lewis, Mills College, California, USA

Lewis, C. & Tsuchida, I.  (1997). Planned educational change in Japan: The shift to student-centered elementary science.  Journal of Education Policy,12:5, 313-331.

Lewis, C..  (2010). A public proving ground for standards-based practice: Why we need it, what it might look like. Education Week. 30:3, September 10 (online) September 15 (paper), pages 28-30.




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