This course is discontinued

UV9344 – Institutional perspectives on the relationship between policy and practice

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

This two-day program will address two aspects of the relationship between instructional policy and teachers’ classroom practice: 1) the role of social networks in carrying logics of instruction from the environment into districts, schools, and classroom; and 2) the role of framing in local processes of meaning making. With regards to social networks, we will investigate the ways that policy ideas are carried via social networks from the environment into schools and classrooms. We will investigate features of social networks that make them more or less likely to influence teachers’ classrooms. We will then look at how teachers and others interact with one another to make meaning of new instructional approaches. Drawing on frame analysis, we will investigate how teachers and others come to understand instructional approaches in social interaction, and how that interaction is influenced by relations of status and authority. On both days, we will thoroughly review relevant theories—institutional theory, social network theory, frame analysis—and discuss the affordances and constraints of these different theories for illuminating different aspects of the policy implementation process.

Learning outcome

  1. To review findings from several empirical studies that have investigated implementation of instructional policy;
  2. To become familiar with key theories that are useful for studying the relationship between policy and practice;
  3. To understand the affordances and constraints of using these theories in empirical studies of policy implementation


PhD-candidates enrolled in NATED will be given priority, but it is also possible for other PhD-candidates to apply for the course.

Candidates admitted to a PhD-program at UiO: Apply by Studentweb

Other applicants: apply through registration form

Deadline for registration: August 10th, 2013


Formal prerequisite knowledge

No obligatory prerequisites beyond the minimum requirements for entrance to higher education in Norway.

Recommended previous knowledge

Formal prerequisite knowledge

Admission on a Ph.D. - Programme and at least a Master Degree


Location: University of Oslo, Helga Eng’s House, room 231
Duration: 14 hours, two days
Dates:  Augsut 26-27

Responsible: Professor Jorunn Møller (ILS) in cooperation with Associate Professor Gunn Søreide, University of Bergen.
Guest Professors: Professor Cynthia Coburn, Northwestern University, School of Education and Social Policy, Evanston, Illinois
Work format: Open lectures and seminars


Monday, August 26

  • 09.15 – 12.00: Professor Cynthia Coburn: Social networks and the spread of ideas: Implications for instructional improvement efforts
  • 12.00 – 13.00: Lunch
  • 13.00 – 15.00: PhD presentations and feedback (including break)
  • 15.15 – 16.00 Plenary discussion/ Summing up

Tuesday, August 27

  • 09.15 – 12.00: Professor Cynthia Coburn: Problem framing and instructional reform in reading instruction
  • 12.00 – 13.00: Lunch
  • 13.00 – 15.00: PhD presentations and feedback (including break)
  • 15.15 – 16.00 Plenary discussion/ Summing up


  • Coburn, C.E. (2006). Framing the Problem of Reading Instruction: Using Frame analysis to Uncover the Microprocesses of Policy Implementation. American Educational Research Journal. 43(3), 343-379.
  • Coburn, C.E., Russel, J.L. (2008). District Policy and Teachers’ Social Networks. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis,30(3), 203 – 235.

  • Coburn, C. E., Bae, S., & Turner, E. O. (2008). Authority, status, and the dynamics of insider-outsider partnerships at the district level. Peabody Journal of Education, 83(3), 364-399.

  • Lawrence, Thomas B. (2008) Power, institutions and organizations. In R. Greenwood, C. Oliver, K. Sahlin, & R. Suddaby (Eds.), Sage handbook of organizational institutionalism: 170-197. London: Sage.
  • March, James G. and Olsen, Johan P. (2003), Democracy and Schooling: An Institutional Perspective. In McDonnell, L.M., Timpane, P.M., and Benjamin, R. (eds.), Rediscovering the Democratic Purposes of Education, (pp. 148-173). Lawrence, University Press of Kansas.

  • Spillane, J.P. & Burch, P. (2006). The institutional environment and instructional practice: Changing patterns of guidance and control in public education, in H-D Meyer and B. Rowan (eds.) The New Institutionalism in Education.  Albany: State University of New York Press.

  • Boxenbaum E. & Pedersen, J.S. (2009). Scandinavian institutionalism – a case of institutional work. In Lawrence, T., Suddaby, R. & Leca, B. (Eds.). Institutional Work. Actors and Agency in Institutional Studies of Organizations, pp. 178-204. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Mahoney, J. & Thelen, K. (2010). A Theory of Gradual Institutional Change. In J. Mahoney & K. Thelen (Eds.). Explaining Institutional change: Ambiguioty, Agency, and Power. (p. 1-10). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Recommended reading in addition:

  • Coburn, C.E. and Turner, E.O (2011) Research on Data Use: A Framework and Analysis. Measurement: Interdisciplinary research and Perspectives, 9(4), 173-206.

Paper for seminar: 5000-6000 words. Send to track leaders no later than August 13 , 2013, Email addresses: ,


  • 1 credit points for course participation (80% attendance required)
  • 3 credit points for course participation and submitted paper


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Facts about this course






Autumn 2013


Autumn 2013

Teaching language