Professional decision making: reframing teachers’ work using epistemic frame theory

Michael Phillips, Amanda Siebert-Evenstone, Aaron Kessler, Dragan Gasevic, David Williamson Shaffer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


For many outside the profession, teaching looks simple and straightforward; however, for those working in classrooms, it can be a challenging task. In this paper we argue that teaching is a complex profession that requires both novice and expert educators alike to engage students in sets of activities aimed at transforming their understanding of a subject area. This work requires complex planning, enacting instruction, and reflecting on outcomes. In a moment to moment basis teachers must make decisions and iterate on previously made decisions in order to provide effective opportunities for students to engage with the materials, skills or content to be learned. In this paper, we aim to highlight the complexity of the decision-making process and, in doing so we make the argument that individual teachers’ decision-making draws upon a personal epistemic frame which includes factors such as skills, knowledge, identity, values, and epistemology. We provide examples of previous research efforts that have attempted to explore such factors and the limitations, both philosophical and methodological shortcomings of such attempts. Finally, we propose that the use of Quantitative Ethnography and Epistemic Frame Theory provides new opportunities to interrogate teachers’ practices and decision-making as a way to better understand the complexity of teacher work.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in Quantitative Ethnography
Subtitle of host publicationSecond International Conference, ICQE 2020, Proceedings
EditorsAndrew R. Ruis, Seung B. Lee
Place of PublicationCham Switzerland
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9783030677886
ISBN (Print)9783030677879
Publication statusPublished - 2021
EventInternational Conference on Quantitative Ethnography 2020 - Malibu, United States of America
Duration: 1 Feb 20213 Feb 2021
Conference number: 2nd (Website) (Proceedings)

Publication series

NameCommunications in Computer and Information Science
ISSN (Print)1865-0929
ISSN (Electronic)1865-0937


ConferenceInternational Conference on Quantitative Ethnography 2020
Abbreviated titleICQE 2020
Country/TerritoryUnited States of America
Internet address


  • Decision-making
  • Epistemic frame theory
  • Teachers

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