University of Leicester
2020RawlingsSmithEKCPhD.pdf (5.01 MB)

An exploration of the professional capital of authors who recontextualise knowledge about place in English A level geography textbooks

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posted on 2020-02-05, 09:51 authored by Emma-Jane K. C. Rawlings Smith
Initiated in 2014, A level curriculum reform in England was driven by the government’s desire to restore academic rigour, help bridge the school-academy divide and better prepare school leavers for the world of work, university and life in society. Reform provided the opportunity to revise A level textbooks and revive their position in the resource ecology of the classroom. Previous research on geography textbooks focuses on textbook perception and use, curriculum coverage and the representation of place. Yet, there is remarkably little research with the author, rather than textbook, as the central concern. My research fills this gap. Textbook authors are an important source of data. Drawing on communities of practice and their own accumulated knowledge and expertise, authors select, organise and transform knowledge created in the parent discipline (its methods, prevailing paradigm and knowledge) and society into a format that is appropriate for use at A level. As the discipline of geography is broad and multi-paradigmatic and the process of recontextualisation is complex, my research focuses on understanding the decisions authors make about place selection and knowledge. Place was selected as it is the most central of geographical concepts and a new core unit for the revised A level subject content. This idiographic case study research elicits the views of nine authors, with data generated using questionnaires, semistructured interviews and Q-sort. The latter is currently an under-used methodology in geography education research. By exploring themes developed through reflexive thematic analysis, findings suggest that authors draw on human, social and decisional capital developed through immersion in teaching, assessment and pedagogy. Furthermore, reflective practice is seen to play a key role in the recontextualisation of knowledge, helping authors to utilise opportunities and deal with constraints experienced during the writing process.



Phil Wood; Joan Woodhouse

Date of award


Author affiliation

School of Education

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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