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Large scale pedagogical transformation as widespread cultural change in Mexican public schools

Abstract

This article examines how and under what conditions a new pedagogy can spread at scale using the Learning Community Project (LCP) in Mexico as a case study. Started as a small-scale, grassroots pedagogical change initiative in a handful of public schools, LCP evolved over an 8-year period into a national policy that spread its pedagogy of tutorial relationships to 9000 schools. The author conceptualizes large scale pedagogical transformation as a process of widespread cultural change that occurs when a new pedagogy developed by a critical community is adopted by movements who disseminate it in three arenas: the social, political, and pedagogical arenas. The author examines the scale reached by LCP relative to the dimensions of spread, depth, ownership, and sustainability proposed by Coburn (Educ Res 32(6):3–12, 2003). It then extracts seven principles to change pedagogy at scale: 1) Turn ‘disadvantage’ into possibility; 2) Establish a clear purpose centered on student learning and a compelling vision of effective pedagogy; 3) Directly change the instructional core; 4) Create multiple opportunities to observe, practice, and refine the new pedagogy; 5) Attract the support of system leaders, or become one; 6) Change the surrounding institutional environment from the inside out; and 7) Keep a strong link between design and execution.

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Fig. 1

Source: SEP (2013) ENLACE 2013. Resultados Históricos Nacionales 2006–2013

Fig. 2

Source: SEP (2013) ENLACE 2013. Resultados Históricos Nacionales 2006–2013

Notes

  1. Figures 1 and 2 present the dramatic increase of levels of student achievement in all Telesecundarias, not only those that participated in PEMLE. A few considerations suggest that the overall improvement in Telesecundarias is the result, at least on a large extent, of PEMLE. (1) The most noticeable increases in student achievement occurred from 2009 to 2012, precisely the period when PEMLE was operating. (2) No other education program or policy in effect during those years had the goal and a strategy to deliberately change pedagogical practice in Telesecundarias. (3) Telesecundarias represented the majority of the public middle schools that participated in PEMLE (62 %, compared to 21 % Secundarias Generales and 17 % Secundarias Técnicas). The number of Telesecundarias directly served by PEMLE represents over 20 %, that is, a significant proportion, of all Telesecundarias in the country. (4) Student achievement of Telesecundarias in PEMLE improved at a faster pace than those not in the program (DGDGIE 2012; UPEPE 2012). (5) Many more schools than those in PEMLE had exposure to its core pedagogy—through the larger EIMLE strategy, propaedeutic courses for all grade 7 Math teachers and their students, national and statewide learning fairs, and the availability of free online resources for all teachers. (6) Effects of PEMLE on the overall performance of Secundarias Generales (SG) and Secundarias Técnicas (ST) would be harder to see in Figs. 1 and 2 for two reasons. First the proportion of SG participating in PEMLE relative to the total number of SGs is much smaller than in the case of Telesecundarias (11% vs. 20%). Second, STs in PEMLE improved at a similar or slower pace that STs not in the program, (7) So far, there’s no compelling rival hypothesis to explain the dramatic improvements in Telesecundaria between 2009 and 2012.

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Correspondence to Santiago Rincón-Gallardo.

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Rincón-Gallardo, S. Large scale pedagogical transformation as widespread cultural change in Mexican public schools. J Educ Change 17, 411–436 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10833-016-9286-4

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Keywords

  • Pedagogical change
  • Instructional change
  • Large-scale change
  • Cultural change
  • Instructional core
  • Instructional innovation