Evaluating innovation and navigating unseen boundaries: systems, processes and people

Alma Fleet*, Katey De Gioia, Lorraine Madden, Anthony Semann

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This paper illustrates an evaluation model emerging from Australian research. With reference to a range of contexts, its usefulness is demonstrated through application to two professional development initiatives designed to improve continuity of learning in the context of the transition to school. The model reconceptualises approaches to considering and reporting educational change. Responding to an Australian state government’s recognition that aspects of the transition to school process necessitated changed dialogue between teachers and educators in prior to school and the formal school sector, the research team facilitated two eight-month multi-site explorations of core concepts, philosophies and practices. Ethics protocols were followed throughout the collaborative project. While this research acknowledges Wenger’s (2009. ‘Social learning capability: Four essays on innovation and learning in social systems.’ Social Innovation, Sociedade e Trabalho. Booklets 12 – separate supplement, MTSS/GEP & EQUAL Portugal, Lisbon.) claim that ‘social learning capability’ is ‘the most fundamental aspect of the communities of practice approach’ [Omidvar, O., and R. Kislov. 2014. ‘The evolution of the communities of practice approach: Toward knowledgeability in a landscape of practice- An interview with Etienne Wenger-Trayner.’ Journal of Management Inquiry 23: 266–275., p.268], experience in this cross-sector initiative suggests that the intersections of relationship, facilitative infrastructure and ‘spirals of engagement’ [Fleet, A., and C. Patterson. 2001. ‘Professional growth reconceptualised: Early childhood staff searching for meaning.’ Early Childhood Research and Practice 3 (2), ERIC Number: ED458042.] are also key in educational change, and should thus be visible in an evaluation model.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)66-79
    Number of pages14
    JournalEuropean Early Childhood Education Research Journal
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2018


    • educational change
    • innovation evaluation
    • communities of practice
    • professional development
    • transition to school


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