Beginnjahr 2012 Abschlussjahr 2015


durchführende Institutionen


Ländercode Finnland, Österreich Sprachcode Englisch
Schlagwörter DeutschSelbstbestimmungstheorie, Schulentwicklung, Psychologische Grundbedürfnisse, Kulturhistorische Tätigkeitstheorie
Schlagwörter Englischschool development, basic psychological needs, Self-Determination Theory, Cultural-Historical Activity Theory

School reform is widely understood as a top-down process, requiring adoption and internalization of supposedly new pedagogic paradigms by the practitioners and aiming at a predefined outcome that is set by political and economical stakeholders. But it can also be perceived as a bottom-up development, triggered by learning processes of individual teachers or students, aiming at the transformation of their local institution. A third approach has a horizontal dimension, putting cause and effect on the same level of analysis (Greeno & Engeström, 2014, p. 136): Expansive learning (Engeström, 2015) takes a systemic approach that seeks to transcend this individual – societal dichotomy by defining object-oriented activity as the central unit of analysis. In expansive learning, contradictions that have historically built up are thoroughly analyzed on various levels, leading to a change in the practitioners’ understanding of some fundamental aspect of the activity and fostering their transformative agency (Haapasaari et al., 2014), as they collectively resolve and overcome the contradictions by modelling, testing and implementing an expanded pattern of the activity.

The study at hand is situated in the presently ongoing school reform in Austria with its almost completed transition of the hitherto general secondary schools into new secondary schools. While this reform clearly aims at providing the best possible chances for all students, suggesting an inclusive approach that seeks to maximally foster their development regardless of their social background, a first evaluative report (Eder et al., 2015) reveals significant flaws in its implementation which has often been perceived as top-down, leaving school officials and teachers with the quest for demanding more autonomy for the individual schools. On this background, the research project is carried out in a small rural secondary school, with the author being both teacher and researcher, in the course of a dissertation. Being among the last general secondary schools that still faces that transition, the aim of this study is, by fostering an expansive learning process, to collectively arrive at the best possible local solution, an expanded form of school activity, for that school.

A special focus is put on the role of needs in this process, on their different forms, and on their interplay with activity. This is achieved by utilizing the concepts of needs in Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (CHAT; Bratus & Lishin, 1983) and in Self-Determination Theory (SDT; Deci & Ryan, 2000) as different theoretical lenses and by establishing a dialogue between both approaches, especially in order to get a better understanding of raw and unobjectified needs as existential meta-necessities (D. Leontiev, 2012) that become visible in both theories and that seem to be underestimated in the former.


While the research project is still going on, intermediate results indicate the high value of historical and empirical analyses for the practitioners to be able to achieve a profound understanding for the current situation, on which to develop an expanded form of activity.

The theoretical framework for this study as well as tentative findings have, amongst others, been presented and discussed at the 5th International Conference on Self-Determination Theory in Rochester, N.Y., (2013), the 4th International ISCAR Summer University of the Moscow State University of Psychology and Education, as well as in a contribution to an edited volume (Hollick et al., 2014)

Erhebungstechniken und Auswahlverfahren

Acknowledging the interventionist character of such an expansive learning process that not only has an effect on the researched school activities on classroom and school level, but also informs and enriches the research activity, the chosen methods are formative interventionist. As such, they underline the open-ended character of the intervention. They are applied on individual, dyadic, and collective levels: the very research and writing process of this thesis equals to a formative intervention on a personal level, an act of expansive self-movement; developmental dialogue (Heikkilä & Seppänen, 2014) aims at triggering expansive learning steps on a dyadic level; and finally, Change Laboratory interventions (Virkkunen & Newnham, 2013) in the form of school development conferences are utilized to foster expansive learning on team level.

Data are collected on these levels through the Basic Needs Satisfaction at Work Scale (Deci & Ryan, 2000), written reports, narrative interviews, in school development conferences, and autobiographical notes.

Publikationen (+ link zum OBV)
  • Engeström, Y., & Sannino, A. (2010). Studies of expansive learning: Foundations, findings and future challenges. Educational Research Review, 5(1), 1–24.
  • Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The „what“ and „why“ of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological inquiry, 11(4), 227–268.
  • Bratus’, B. S., & Lishin, O. V. (1983). Laws of the Development of Activity and Problems in the Psychological and Pedagogical Shaping of the Personality. Russian Education & Society, 21(3), 38–50.
  • Engeström, Y. (2015). Learning by expanding: an activity-theoretical approach to developmental research (Second edition). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
  • Virkkunen, J., & Newnham, D. S. (2013). The change laboratory a tool for collaborative development of work and education. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.
  • Eder, F., Altrichter, H., Hofmann, F., & Weber, C. (2015). Evaluation der Neuen Mittelschule (NMS). Befunde aus den Anfangskohorten (Forschungsbericht). Salzburg und Linz: Universität Salzburg, Johannes Kepler Universität Linz, Pädagogische Hochschule Oberösterreich.
  • Greeno, J. G., & Engeström, Y. (2014). Learning in Activity. In The Learning Sciences (2nd edition, S. 128–147). Cambridge ; New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Haapasaari, A., Engeström, Y., & Kerosuo, H. (2014). The emergence of learners’ transformative agency in a Change Laboratory intervention. Journal of Education and Work, 1–31.
  • Heikkilä, H., & Seppänen, L. (2014). Examining Developmental Dialogue: the Emergency of Transformative Agency. Outlines. Critical Practice Studies, 15(2), 5–30.
  • Kramer, M. (2014). Überlegungen zur Zone der proximalen Entwicklung im Licht der Inklusionsdebatte – ein tätigkeitstheoretischer Ansatz. In D. Hollick, M. Neißl, M. Kramer, & J. Reitinger (Hrsg.), Heterogenität in pädagogischen Handlungsfeldern: Perspektiven. Befunde. Konzeptionelle Ansätze. (S. 7–24). Kassel: Kassel University Press.
  • Leontiev, D. (2012). From Drive to Need and further: What is human motivation about? In Motivation, Consciousness and Self-Regulation (1. Aufl., S. 9–25). New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.
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Verhalten und Persönlichkeit
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