Research in the Sociocultural and Activity Theory research group focuses on learning across the age range, with a particular focus on the institutional conditions for learning and professional practices.

Our members also collaborate with researchers across the Department’s research groups to bring insights from Sociocultural and Activity Theory to bear on a wide range of research projects. Members draw broadly on cultural historical theory and the work of Vygotsky and his intellectual legacy.

These intellectual resources allow us to:

  • examine the relationship between individual learning and the social situations in which that learning occurs. The focus helps us to see teaching and learning, whether in the workplace or in more formal settings, as a process through which we take on what is valued in a culture and in turn begin to contribute to that culture;
  • focus on activity and the actions within activities in order to understand why and how people engage with tasks and problems.
  • focus simultaneously on individual learning and changes in the system or systems in which learning is occurring.

Selected publications


Study with us

Examples of current DPhil projects
  • Kasper Munk, ‘External dimensions of in-the-moment teacher decision-making’
  • Sonia Khan, ‘Learning from classroom experiences: A sociocultural analysis of teacher expertise’
  • Issac Lim, ‘Interprofessional Teams: A Complex Adaptive System Approach’
  • Alice Tawell, ‘Enacting school exclusion policy in England: a multiple case study’
  • Marion Waite, ‘Exploration of genre and development of academic identity between learner-teacher dyads when participating in a facilitated writing group’
Examples of past DPhil projects
  • Minjeong Song, ‘Beginning teachers’ identity and agency: A case study of L2 English teachers in South Korea’
  • Jessica Chan, ‘Teachers’ understanding of the purposes of group work and their relationship with practice’
  • Tatiana Rodriguez Leal, ‘”I sometimes question myself ” the learning trajectories of four senior managers as they confronted changing demands at work’
  • Desmond Tan, ‘Student teachers learning to use Assessment for Learning in schools’
  • Prabhat Rai, ‘Building Common Knowledge: A cultural historical analysis of pedagogical pracieces at a rural school in Rajashtan, India’