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The Funnels of Influence (Part 1)

This article is a short informal summary of an extensive literature review undertaken as part of a recently published EdD thesis. Aubrey-Smith, F., (2020) An exploration of the relationship between teachers’ pedagogical stance and the use of ICT in their classroom practice. EdD Thesis. The Open University.

As teachers, what we say, what we intend to do, what we live out through our actions, and what we implicitly believe, are often subtly different (Tannen, 2015). Each of these are a result of many different influences.

What we say (Espouse) and what we live out through our actions (Enact) can be seen and experienced by others. These are the forms of evidence that we depend upon in education research and through accountability practices (e.g. monitoring, observation, interviews).

Yet what we Intend to do and particularly what we Implicitly believe, sit much deeper. Our Intentions and Implicit Beliefs are shaped less by the context that we are in and more by our prior experiences – from the moment of our birth up to the current Moment of Practice.

The Funnels of Influence is a model for understanding the many influences which shape who we are and what we Espouse, Intend, Enact and Implicitly believe. It is a tool for researchers seeking to go beyond surface-level acceptance of espoused or enacted practice. It can also be a tool for professionals seeking to unpack practice – for example, understanding why what one teacher does in their classroom can be very different to what another teacher does – even in the same school and using the same resources. The key point being that practice that appears to be the same can actually, when unpacked, be quite profoundly different.

The Funnels of Influence model evolved from Twining et al.’s (2017) sociocultural framework, which provided a means to unpack the influences affecting enacted practices. The initial idea behind the Funnels of Influence model was that influences could be conceived as being from two directions. The Funnel of influences from within ‘The Self’ and the Funnel of influences from ‘The Context’. Within each of these we can identify different kinds of influences that pour down into a shared third funnel – where they combine and result in a ‘Moment of Practice’.

Funnels of Influence simplified

By separating out these influences it becomes possible to understand what might remain stable (and thus apply to all those operating within a particular context), and what is likely to be different for a particular person.

In Part 2 we consider each of these three parts in turn.







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