CHAT is a robust meta-theoretical framework that can assist
teachers in transforming their teaching practices. In this conceptual
paper, I have shown how a teacher (AJ) has used CHAT as a lens
to analyze data that emerged from her classroom action research
on DNA barcoding. However, CHAT is not restricted to analyzing
interventions. It is also a gauge of the classroom as a learning space.
The classroom rules and tools used will influence the object in the
activity system. For example, if “chalk-and-talk” is the predominant
teaching method, and the “rules” do not include a focus on the tenets
of the scientific process, it will not be possible to really achieve
inquiry learning in the classroom.
It is my hope that teachers will use CHAT as a lens when
embarking on CAR. Due to time constraints, I have only focused
on the use of CHAT on a personal plane. Additional useful references on CHAT, some of which refer to the use of CHAT on the interpersonal and institutional planes, include Gedera and Williams
(2016), Mentz and De Beer (2017), Van Oers et al. (2008), and
Abd-El-Khalick, F. & Lederman, N.G. (2000). Improving science teachers’
conceptions of the nature of science: a critical review of the literature.
International Journal of Science Education, 22, 665–701.
Chmielewski, J.G. & Stapleton, M.G. (2009). The undergraduate research
experience: it’s not for everyone, students and faculty alike. BIOS, 80
Chow, K.C.K., Chu, S.K. W., Travares, N. & Lee, C.W. Y. (2015). Teachers as
researchers: a discovery of their emerging role and impact through a
school-university collaborative research. Brock Education Journal,
Darling-Hammond, L. & Snyder, J. (2000). Authentic assessment of teaching
in context. Teacher and Teacher Education, 16, 523–545.
De Beer, J., Petersen, N. & Brits, S. (2018). The use of puppetry and drama
in the biology classroom. American Biology Teacher, 80, 173–179.
Engeström, Y. (1987). Learning by Expanding: An Activity-Theoretical
Approach to Developmental Research. Helsinki, Finland: Orienta-Konsultitl.
Fulton, L.A. & Simpson-Steele, J. (2016). Reconciling the divide: common
processes in science and arts education. STEAM Journal, 2(2), 1–8.
Gedera, D.S.P. & Williams, P.J. (Eds.) (2016). Activity Theory in Education:
ResearchandPractice.Ro tterdam, The Netherlands: Sense.ht tps://
Gravett, S. & De Beer, J. (2015). The teacher as a researcher. In S. Gravett,
J. de Beer & E. du Plessis (Eds.), Becoming a Teacher, 2nd ed. Cape
Town, South Africa: Pearson.
Gray, J. & Campbell-Evans, G. (2002). Beginning teachers as teacher-researchers. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 27(1), 1–22.
Kemmis, S. & Mc Taggart, R. (1988). The Action Research Planner. Victoria,
Australia: Deakin University Press.
Loughran, J. (2006). Developing a Pedagogy of Teacher Education. New
York, NY: Routledge.
McNeil, L.M. (1999). Contradictions of Control: School Structure and School
Knowledge. New York, NY: Routledge.
McNiff, J. & Whitehead, J. (2002). Action Research: Principles and Practice,
2nd ed. London, UK: Routledge.
Mentz, E. & De Beer, J. (2017). The affordances of CHAT as research lens in
studying education from a socio-economic perspective. Proceedings of
the IISES Fourth Teaching and Education Conference, Venice, April 24
(pp. 88–103). https://www.iises.net/proceedings/4th-teaching-
Mettetal, G. (2002). Essays on teaching excellence. Toward the Best in the
Academy, 14(7). Professional and Organizational Development Network
in Higher Education.
T – Tools
S – Subject
R – Rules
C – Community
D – Division of labor
O – Object / objective T
Is there a contradiction
What tools/ pedagogies typically
characterize your lessons?
Science as inquiry? Emphasis on tenets
New tools / pedagogies/
approaches that I research
I, the teacher/ or the
Which rules or
teaching and learning
in this CAR?
could support this
What are my roles, and
those of my students?
(one should be that all
are engaged as
scientists, in the science
What are the
My role as teacher, and
that of my students.
Who are the
stakeholders that I
usually involve in
What ‘rules’ dictate
teaching and learning?
Emphasis on tenets of
science, and problem-based learning? Or time
Who is the focus?
You, the Teacher?
Typical (traditional) teaching and
My reformed teaching practice
(Classroom action research)
Figure 5. How CHAT can be a lens to examine my reformed teaching practice.