Looking for cohesion: the role of search for meaning in the interaction between teacher and reform

Johan Luttenberg, Klaas Van Veen*, Jeroen Imants

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Teachers’ reactions to reforms are often perceived in terms of agreement or resistance. In this article, an alternative is explored. More specifically, the interaction between teachers and reforms within the school are explored in order to gain greater insight into the manner in which teachers make sense of the reforms confronting them: How do teachers relate their own frames of reference to the perceived frames of reference of the reforms. Based upon the relevant literature, four forms of search for meaning are distinguished: assimilation, accommodation, toleration and distantiation. The reform stories of four teachers are analysed in particular to show how different forms of search for meaning are employed and the role that this can play in the implementation of the reform. The results indeed show teachers to use different forms of search for meaning to construct a workable relationship between their own frame of reference and the perceived frames of reference of the reforms. The role of such search for meaning is to maintain a balance between continuity and change in the work of the teacher and a balance between pressure to reform and professional autonomy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-308
Number of pages20
JournalResearch Papers in Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1-Jul-2013
Externally publishedYes

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