Impact in education: a discourse analysis of interpretations and negotiations across the field

Mary Ryan, Terri Bourke, Rod Lane, Peter O'Brien, Lyra L'Estrange

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
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The recasting of accountability in teaching and teacher education as a problem of impact across many countries has seen a proliferation of policies and strategies that datify the work of students and teachers. The enactment of such policies can be interrogated from the perspectives of multiple policy actors to understand the effects of the ‘impact agenda’. We use the conceptual framing of policy enactment along with discourse analysis to investigate the interpretations and negotiations of the impact agenda by twenty teachers, principals, teacher educators, regulators and policy makers from across Australia. Ten discourses were evident across interpretive, material and discursive aspects of policy enactment. Key findings include a real tension between holistic views of impact and reductive views that rely on data analytics, as well as standardisation versus the importance of accounting for the contextual conditions that influence learning and teaching. We argue that educators must be positioned as key policy actors in driving the way impact is understood and measured.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-41
Number of pages15
JournalTeaching Education
Issue number1
Early online date17 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2022


  • impact in education
  • educational policy
  • critical discourse analysis
  • teacher accountability
  • educational data
  • policy enactment


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