Using Gal’perin’s theory to enhance the educated discourse for learning: an action research study in the context of secondary school Year 9 English essay writing

  • Miranda Roberts

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Education (EdD)


Many researchers attest to how Gal’perin’s theory of the systematic formation of actions and concepts illuminates the process of learning and student meta-cognition (Arievitch, I.M., 2020; Lund and Engeness, 2020; Engeness, 2021) and the self-regulated learner (Arievitch and Haenen, 2005) but there have been no reported practising teacher action research studies in secondary schools, nor studies that apply this approach to complex creative tasks such as essay writing. Common pedagogical tools to support essay writing, such as scaffolds, rest on unsophisticated conceptions of learning, like Bloom’s Taxonomy (Anderson, 2001) reducing learning to content knowledge (Arievitch, I.M., 2020) and disregarding collaborative Vygotskian problem-solving approaches. Gal’perin developed Vygotsky’s cultural-historical theory into a practical technology of instruction (Haenen, 1996), separating the content of an action into the orientating part and the executive part. By orientating the student to the properties and tools of the action, a holistic picture of the executive action is evident to the student and ‘serves as an explanation of the whole process’ (Gal'perin, P., 1992 (1978), p.59). My research investigates how Gal’perin’s theory contributes to the development of meta-cognition of essay writing skills and the associated educated discourse.
As a practising secondary school teacher in the UK, I conducted action research within a class of 23 Year 9 students. I followed this with an in-depth analysis of the process in three individual case studies and found evidence of developed essay writing skills, educated discourse and improved meta-cognition. My findings indicate that collaborative, reverse modelling techniques along with an emphasis on Overt Speech supports not only students’ meta-cognition, but their agency in the classroom.
Date of Award17 Nov 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorMichael Fertig (Supervisor) & Shona McIntosh (Supervisor)

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