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Putting words in their mouths : the alignment of identities with system goals through the use of individual learning plans.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date04/2009
JournalBritish Educational Research Journal
Journal number2
Volume35
Number of pages22
Pages221-242
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This article analyses the role of Individual Learning Plans (ILPs) in teachers' work in the Skills for Life sector. It shows how ILPs, originally a means of formative assessment, have become part of a system of performance indicators and function as a key mediating mechanism between local interactions and system goals. The article draws on theoretical perspectives from the new literacy studies and the sociology of science to reveal the pivotal role of texts in projects of social ordering. The methodology is a version of institutional ethnography, whereby an artefact (the ILP) is tracked as it circulates across the different sites of its production and use. Documentary and interview evidence are used. The article concludes that, in its current form, the ILP shapes teaching and learning relationships and aligns both tutor and student identities. Permissive guidance, combined with a core curriculum, the demands of audit and inspection, positions tutors uncomfortably as active mediators between student experience and the policy discourse.