Effects Beyond Effectiveness: Teaching as a Performative Act

Mar. 15, 2013

Source: Curriculum Inquiry, Volume 43, Issue 2, pages 261–288, March 2013

The present paper develops the familiar metaphor of teaching as performance towards a definition of teaching as performative act, where words and actions aim to effect cognitive, affective, and behavioral changes in learners.

Through the lens of speech act theory, the author argues that teaching consists of pedagogical perlocutions—speech acts whose observed and unobserved effects on learners exceed authorial intention and scientific prediction.
Attempts to subdue this excess of effects lend themselves to definitions of teacher effectiveness scripted by the instruments and institutions of scientifically based research.

The author concludes by considering the ways in which these definitions of effects and effectiveness are themselves the performative effects of performance-based teacher assessment regimes.

Updated: May. 17, 2015