Challenges of development work: Instrumentality and constellation of rules as conceptual resources

Marianne Teräs


Professional and vocational institutions are facing challenges due to changes in working life: increase of knowledge work, digitalization, globalization and constant need for improvement of practices. The aim of this paper is to explore organizational change efforts in two educational institutions. First case introduces the vocational college, in which focus of development was new training for immigrant students. The second case presents development work done within training of dentists and oral-hygienists. Theoretical and methodological anchoring of both cases was cultural-historical activity theory and developmental work research, which is an approach evolved in the 1980s in Finland. It combines scientific research, practical development work and learning, called expansive learning. In developmental work research projects one of the theoretical tools is an activity-system model. My focus will be on two elements of the activity-system model: instruments or instrumentality and rules or constellation of rules. It seemed that, at least, partial failure of development work in two educational institutions was due to lack of taking into account the systemic whole of activities under development: activity of learning in multicultural context and in context of patient care.



instrumentality; rules; developmental work research; cultural-historical activity theory; activity-system model

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