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The pedagogical evolution of Repertory Grid Technique for diverse learning communities: A review



This paper considers the potential for Repertory Grid Triadic Elicitation Technique (RGT) to serve as a pedagogical model enabling learner communities across diverse fields to elicit conceptual structures to sustain future-oriented learning that operationalizes "a meta-reflection view". The authors survey investigations from fields sharing a common challenge: to provide evidence of dimensional change in learner thinking to meet the ever-changing needs of complex post-industrial learning ecosystems. The repertory grid data matrices serve as collective cognitive maps, making explicit some of the tacit knowledge structures which characterize such groups, and support the informal learning community as a purposeful, reflective, non-institutional space for knowledge construction. The authors conclude that Conceptual or Repertory Grid elicitation and analysis, founded in Personal Construct Psychology (PCP), helps to develop stronger theoretical foundations for human socio-cognitive activities, particularly when aided by computers as mindtools, thereby contributing to agile knowledge and emancipatory learning across fields and spaces.
*1Ulana Pidzamecky & 2Roland vanOostveen
1 Educational Informatics Laboratory (, Ontario Tech University,
Oshawa, ON Canada.
2 Faculty of Education, Educational Informatics Laboratory (,
Ontario Tech University, Oshawa, ON Canada.
*Corresponding author:
Received: 1 December 2020, Accepted: 20 February 2021
This paper considers the potential for Repertory Grid Triadic Elicitation Technique (RGT) to serve as
a pedagogical model enabling learner communities across diverse fields to elicit conceptual structures
to sustain future-oriented learning that operationalizes "a meta-reflection view". The authors survey
investigations from fields sharing a common challenge: to provide evidence of dimensional change in
learner thinking to meet the ever-changing needs of complex post-industrial learning ecosystems. The
repertory grid data matrices serve as collective cognitive maps, making explicit some of the tacit
knowledge structures which characterize such groups, and support the informal learning community as
a purposeful, reflective, non-institutional space for knowledge construction. The authors conclude that
Conceptual or Repertory Grid elicitation and analysis, founded in Personal Construct Psychology
(PCP), helps to develop stronger theoretical foundations for human socio-cognitive activities,
particularly when aided by computers as mindtools, thereby contributing to agile knowledge and
emancipatory learning across fields and spaces.
Keywords: Personal construct theory, repertory grid, pedagogy, professional learning communities,
online learning.
Cite as: Pidzamecky, U., & vanOostveen, R. (2021). The pedagogical evolution of Repertory Grid
Technique for diverse learning communities: A review. Trends in Social Sciences, 3(1), 10-23.
Vol 3(1) 10-23
ISSN 2637-0735 (Online)
Trends in Social Sciences 2021, Vol 3(1) 10-23
ISSN 2637-0735 (Online)
Schemata, or patterns of thought which organize information, ideas, and notions, along with
the relationships among them, constitute the frame of reference for how we perceive the world
and act in it (DiMaggio, 1997). Our schemata influence how new knowledge is incorporated
into existing structures and reinterpreted in rapidly changing environments (Nadkarni &
Narayanan, 2007). In other words, schemata orient learning (Scholl, 1987). This mental
structuring for learning is significant for individuals involved in professional, work-oriented
activities since they need to continuously build new understandings and apply them in diverse
and challenging settings. Considering that professionals, in turn, belong to fields of practice,
how individual learning transpires and is shared impacts their professional community.
Furthermore, concepts arrived at and perpetuated by the professional community have broader
societal effects (Nonaka & Toyama, 2015). This raises the question to be explored in the current
paper: what is the best way to capture and model tacit knowledge so that it might sustain this
important ongoing ‘multilogue’ (dynamic, multi-party self-expression in a shared field of
knowledge - Ivison, 2002; Shank, 1993) in learning communities?
The current paper builds on findings from an earlier article by the same authors
(Pidzamecky & vanOostveen, 2018), in which they investigated the Repertory Grid (Rep Grid)
Triadic Elicitation Technique - RGT (Kelly, 1955) as an alternative and more robust process
than semi-structured interviews and focus groups for bringing to light individual and group
knowledge construction in professional teacher communities, in support of reflective and
evolving educational practice. In the current paper, the authors explore how repertory grids
(aided by digital affordances, such as WebGrid Plus computer-based analysis software: can be used to capture, systematically analyze, and model emergent
knowledge across different fields and spaces, and with what success. WebGrid Plus facilitates
the surfacing of new realizations. This facilitation is particularly valuable for groups and
communities since "the operations by means of which we assemble our experiential world can
be explored, and that an awareness of this operating ... can help us do it differently and, perhaps,
better" (von Glasersfeld, 2008, p. 6). The value of externalizing and analyzing individual and
communal construing for professional knowledge development is discussed in the proceeding
sections of this paper.
Ultimately, the authors intend to demonstrate that elicitation utilizing Rep Grid can
serve as a pedagogical approach for fostering information-rich settings and sustaining physical
and virtual learning organizations as they continue to grow. The paper begins with some
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remarks about critical reflection by way of background. This is followed by an explanation of
instruments that can support Personal Construct Theory activities, the Repertory Grid
Technique deriving from it, and the newest computer-based grid modelling software, WebGrid
Plus. The second part of the paper contextualizes professionalism in order to foreground the
subsequent sections, which examine some professional contexts where Rep Grid is being used
to facilitate learning. The paper concludes with observations about how these grids uniquely
visualize thinking, thereby responding to the ever-changing needs of complex post-industrial
learning ecosystems.
1.1 The Partnership of Critical Reflection
Kreber and Castleden (2009) have suggested that expertise in all fields requires a disposition
to reflect on core beliefs, which contributes to emancipatory learning. Emancipatory learning
involves critical reflection on the premises and processes that define how individuals interpret
their practice (Habermas, 1971; Kreber & Cranton, 2000; Mezirow, 1991). Such critical
reflection enhances the potential for individuals to experience a transformation of their
conceptual structure, making it more complex, integrated, and differentiated, in other words,
more 'expert-like' (Mezirow, 1991). Furthermore, through small-scale reflections, groups can
promote and influence the direction that large-scale reflections or formal inquiry may take
(Huber & Hutchings, 2005). Reflection is a high-impact metacognitive educational practice,
with successful applications across disciplines, especially in professional practice settings. It is
active and purposeful and is the bridge between experience and learning (Boud, Keogh, &
Walker, 1985). A distinction can be drawn between reflection as a form of individual
development (such as the reflective practitioner) and critical reflection as a route to collective
action and a component of organizational learning and change (Gray, 2007). Critical reflection,
however, is not a process that comes naturally and needs to be facilitated through specific
learning processes (Gray, 2007).
1.2 Personal Construct Theory and Repertory Grid
Critical reflection's facilitation is the central focus of constructivist psychologies, which
theorize about and investigate how human beings create systems for meaningfully
understanding their worlds and experiences (Raskin, 2002). Personal constructivism, also
referred to as Personal Construct Psychology (PCP) or Personal Construct Theory (PCT),
originated with the pioneering work of American psychologist Kelly (1955, 1991a, 1991b). As
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a means of scaffolding critical reflection and new knowledge construction, PCT methods can
provide in-depth insight into personal experience, support a democratic relationship between
facilitators and learners, and represent participants voices (Burr, King, & Butt, 2014). The great
advantage of PCP is that it is largely value-free. In its epistemological framework, PCP can be
understood as one of a number of approaches that Madill, Jordon, and Shirley (2000) refer to
as 'contextual constructionism'. One such approach developed by Kelly is the Repertory Grid
(Rep Grid) Triadic Elicitation Technique, whose purpose is to uncover contextual knowledge
that needs to be drawn out, triggered, or elicited to be understood (Pidzamecky & vanOostveen,
2018; Kelly, 1955). Repertory grids are a means of examining and uncovering the full
repertoire of constructs, which Kelly (1970) believed represent alternative views of the world
that can be examined, interrogated, and shared.
1.3 Applying Repertory Grid Triadic Elicitation for Critically Reflective Knowledge
Construction in Diverse Learning Settings
Repertory Grid Triadic Elicitation involves members of a group coming to a consensus on a
specific subject or question, after identifying many variables or characteristics about it, which
Kelly (1955) called elements, and then systematically comparing them, three at a time (hence,
triadic elicitation), to create a list of personal constructs or thoughts about the elements (Gaines
& Shaw, 2003; Pidzamecky & vanOostveen, 2018). These constructs represent two
diametrically opposing poles: ideas most aligned with the elements and ideas least aligned with
them. According to Kelly, personal constructs are the unique ways humans construe
(understand, interpret, and actively design) their world (Scheer, 2016). This notion has
undergone broad elaboration over the past more than fifty years (Cromwell, 2010; Walker &
Winter, 2007). Modern scholars of PCP recognize that elicitation represents the exploration of
untapped implications of cognitive understanding affecting personal and professional
development in the 21st century (McWilliams, 2012).
During the repertory grid process, the elements are assessed against the two poles of
constructs using a Likert Scale. The results form a knowledge matrix known as a repertory
grid, which can later be investigated for research purposes using a modern analytical computer
program, such as WebGrid Plus (Gaines & Shaw, 2007; Pidzamecky & vanOostveen, 2018).
The application was employed in a number of the studies as referenced in this paper and has
shown increasing favour. WebGrid Plus is a conceptual modelling tool that plots data on graphs
generated from the elicitation of both elements and constructs in the repertory grid process
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(Gaines & Shaw, 2007). While the reliability and validity of individual repertory grids have
raised questions around subjectivity (Gaines & Shaw, 2003), when considered as part of a
group elicitation, these graphs provide deeper and more detailed insights into the meaning of
Rep Grid results (Gaines & Shaw, 1989; Pidzamecky & vanOostveen, 2018).
While a range of other cognitive tools and methods exists to ease and support critical
reflection as a process which mediates between experience, knowledge, and action (such as
coaching, mentoring, action research, storytelling, reflective and reflexive conversations,
interviews, focus groups, reflective journals, concept mapping, and others - Gray, 2007), Rep
Grid is increasingly seen as the most promising in service to professional learning, as, for
example, in clinical psychology (Leach, Freshwater, Aldridge, & Sunderland, 2001),
psychiatry (Kirkcaldy, Pope, & Siefen, 1993), education (Pope & Denicolo, 2001),
management studies (Rad, Wahlberg, & Öhman, 2013; Tan, Tung, & Xu, 2009), consumer
studies (Mireaux, Cox, Cotton, & Evans, 2007), architectural studies (Tofan, Avgeriou, &
Galster, 2014), and software engineering (Young, Edwards, McDonald, & Thompson, 2005).
Other areas include performance appraisal, competence development, and problem-solving
(Easterby‐Smith, Thorpe, & Holman, 1996), as well as monitoring, diagnosing, and training
activities in diverse fields (Chu & Hwang, 2008; Hwang, Chen, Hwang, & Chu, 2006). The
repertory grid is an excellent dialogic tool for professional learning because it reveals how
learners perceive the world around them and allows an expert (coach, mentor, facilitator,
educator, or researcher) to gain understanding by inspecting and reflecting on the grid(s) and
separating relevant information (Stumpf & McDonnell, 2003). Whereas other techniques, such
as questionnaires, attitude scales, or observation techniques, are based upon the use of terms
offered by others, the repertory grid approach allows the discovery of personal constructs in a
personally iterated and authentic way (Solas, 1992). Moreover, repertory grids describe crucial
interactive episodes in which new lines of individual and collective activity are constructed
(Becker, 1971). In the opinion of the authors of this paper, it is precisely this unique synergy
of individual and social characteristics which transform Rep Grid from a mere method or
approach into a flexible, future-oriented pedagogy for learning.
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Figure 1: A typical Repertory Grid focus cluster graph (
1.4 Digital Affordances as Cognitive Partners for Rep Grid
The intimate relationship between digital technologies, human cognition, and endeavour has
been extensively researched by Desjardins, Lacasse, and Bélair (2001), who developed a
framework based on Human Computer Human Interaction (HCHI) theory to ground this inter-
relationship, called the General Technology Competency and Use Framework (GTCU). The
GTCU Framework posits four orders of competency required for, and cultivated in, learning
communities using digital affordances: the technical, informational, social, and
epistemological (Desjardins, 2005; Desjardins et al., 2001). More recent research has extended
the collaborative learning premises of the GTCU Framework by providing additional findings
on knowledge-building in Collaborative Online Learning Environments, COLE (vanOostveen,
Desjardins, & Bullock, 2019), examples of which will be discussed later in this paper.
As introduced earlier, conceptual modelling tools are useful for investigating
individuals or communities' mental worlds within a well-specified domain and permit
participants to view themselves longitudinally and across domains, with their peer and client
communities or other relevant groups (B. Gaines, personal communication, February 8, 2019).
Computers, as social knowledge machines, cognitive partners, or mindtools’ (Jonassen, Carr,
& Yueh, 1998), facilitate this collaboration and the production of valuable socially constructed
data (Shadbolt, O'Hara, De Roure, Hall, & SpringerLink, 2019). Papert (1980) referred to
computer-mediated environments for learning as "microworlds", and simultaneously as
"incubators for knowledge" (p. 120). He suggests that microworlds provide a context for
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creating transitional theories, as the learner moves from preconceptions to the construction of
new knowledge (Papert, 1980).
2.1 Sustaining Professionalism Through Learning Communities Using Rep Grid
Growing research suggests that a conceptual shift is required from the notion of 'professional
development' to 'professional learning', which entails a change in mindset from externally
delivered forms of training and education to deeper, introspective, more self-determined
processes in which individuals spend time reflecting in and on their practice, individually and
with colleagues, to support improvements in instruction and learning (Hargreaves, 2000; Race,
2005; Schön, 1983). As learners, practitioners are often content with superficial understandings
of more profound concepts (Caprara, Barbaranelli, Steca, & Malone, 2006). Once they have
formalized a practice, it seems difficult for them to revisit the underlying concept for richer
understanding (Goldenberg, 1998; Hiebert & Carpenter, 1992; Lee & Wheeler, 1989; Skemp,
1978). For these reasons, a different approach is needed to help individuals involved in
professional settings to identify and develop the motivations essential for their professionalism
to evolve (Pidzamecky & vanOostveen, 2018). Such a conclusion requires methods and
techniques that allow researchers to elicit and examine practitioners cognitive constructions
about their work. This aligns with the Epistemological Order of the GTCU by engaging
practitioners in 'sandbox learning', which involves self-directed learning in engaging, authentic,
and often digital environments (Heick, 2020). Such engagement, in turn, supports a social
ecology conducive to professional community building, that is, sociocracy (Christian, 2014).
Since a comprehensive literature review of all possible fields would be impossible, the
part of this paper which follows explores a sample set of socially oriented fields with several
purposes in mind: a) to provide evidence of how Rep Grid can be used as an interpretive
pedagogical framework (Marsden & Littler, 2000) in diverse settings; b) to illustrate the extent
to which the application of Rep Grid is congruent with and can contribute to visible learning
for the development of personal and professional competencies; and furthermore, c) to illustrate
how computer-based platforms support and sustain ever new models of off- and online learning
communities, such as the Fully Online Learning Community (FOLC) model (vanOostveen,
DiGiuseppe, Barber, Blayone, & Childs, 2016), also described below.
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2.2 Information Systems
Increasing attention is being paid by researchers in the field of Information Technology (IT) to
methods which can provide better understandings of how various Information System (IS)
participants think about IT (Tan & Hunter, 2002). Researchers have identified the Repertory
Grid Technique as having the potential to significantly enhance understanding of how users,
managers, and IS professionals make sense of IT in their organizations (Tan & Hunter, 2002).
As a result, the individual's cognition becomes "the foundation of a new paradigm of how
organizations work and how people within organizations achieve shared action" (Jelinek &
Litterer, 1994, p. 33). Research in this area has also shown that Rep Grid can add value to
sociocratic cognitive approaches such as adaptive structuration--the process by which groups
create and maintain a social system through the application of structures (DeSanctis & Poole,
1994). Other research investigating the interdependence of organizations and information
systems where the Repertory Grid Technique has been used to reveal the dynamics of this
interaction demonstrates that it provides a basis for improved understanding of the
organizational complexities related to information technologies (Brooks, Davis, & Lycett,
2005). Findings from this study indicated that participation in the repertory grid process "made
managers more conceptually agile, leading to improved integration of organizational processes
and technology" (Brooks et al., 2005, p. 39). Such research demonstrates the value to a learning
organization of the process perspective as captured in the shared mental models resulting from
the Rep Grid approach (Orlikowski & Barley, 2001).
An investigation into the skill requirements for IT project managers (PMs) used the
RGT to elicit, explore, and address skills gaps (Napier, Keil, & Tan, 2009). Analysis of the
individual rep grids revealed four distinct ways in which study participants combined skill
categories to form archetypes of effective IT project managers (Napier et al., 2009). During the
process, the four archetypes were detailed (General Manager, Problem Solver, Client
Representative, and Balanced Manager) such, that this knowledge could be used and further
refined by practitioners, researchers, and educators in the field (Napier et al., 2009). For
practitioners, the study demonstrated important implications for both recruiting and career
development. Specifically, both assessment and training tools could be developed around the
skill categories identified (Napier et al., 2009). The researchers remark that such tools would
prove to be a valuable way to gauge the skills of current and potential IT PMs and to deliver
training programs that are specifically tailored to an individual's needs (Napier et al., 2009).
The study also has important implications for educators in the IS area who seek to provide
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well-balanced training in IT project management. The researchers go on to state that IT PM
courses and curricula could be evaluated in light of the extent to which they promote the
development of the types of skills identified in their study using Rep Grid (Napier et al., 2009).
2.3 Business and Entrepreneurship
A study of business strategists using RGT was conducted "to go deeper into eliciting more
complex strategic cognitions on how strategy is crafted and recrafted in a world constructed
and reconstructed" (Wright, 2008, p. 753). The researcher explains that heterogeneity is central
to strategic management, strategizing, and the practice of strategy and therefore, the RGT was
determined to be conducive to eliciting heterogenous qualities (Wright, 2008). As a result, an
enhanced application of RGT was employed to capture managerial cognitions based on a dense
interplay of selected key issues, events, people, and situations simultaneously to reflect better
the complexity of strategy and strategic work (Wright, 2008). Wright (2008) notes that after
several pilot tests and laddering of respondents strategic constructs, the researchers
demonstrated that RGT could be further enhanced by a slight departure from the original
protocol. For example, the group's elicited constructs were presented to a different set of
corporate board members from a wider director population to check if these constructs made
sense to them, which they did (Wright, 2008). The findings of the study illustrated that such
'customized' application of RGT could open new landscapes of thinking and new ways of
designing business strategist professional learning (Wright, 2008).
Cross-cultural research has been conducted into innovative teaching approaches in
entrepreneurship in France and Germany, where creative enterprise is highly prized (Klapper
& Tegtmeier, 2010). This is part of a growing recognition of the need to foster entrepreneurship
across Europe, and the awareness and skills required (Klapper & Tegtmeier, 2010). French and
German case studies using Rep Grid have been seen as experimentation in innovative pedagogy
(Klapper & Tegtmeier, 2010) and were situated in the contexts of Leuphana University of
Luneburg in the North of Germany and French Grande Ecole Management School in
Normandy (Klapper & Tegtmeier, 2010). The two European cases were investigated since they
contrast the traditional approach of understanding entrepreneurship as a process requiring
holistic and action-oriented teaching with an approach that draws on cognitive psychology and
particularly on repertory grids (Klapper & Tegtmeier, 2010). A follow-up project to the
German-French research was conducted in France and Poland several years later (Klapper,
2014). Findings from both these studies determined that the use of repertory grids serves as a
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pedagogical approach to fostering expertise (Klapper, 2014; Klapper & Tegtmeier, 2010). This
evidence builds on experiments in other European, as well as Asian, contexts, that have begun
to contribute evidence concerning the transferability of this innovative pedagogical approach
(Klapper, 2014; Klapper & Tegtmeier, 2010).
An insightful study which used a repertory ratings grid to triangulate a vocational tutor's
and her learners meaning-making on a pre-apprenticeship hairdressing course sought to
illustrate that RG triadic elicitation was valuable in supporting "effective industry-directed and
employability-promoting hairdressing training practices" (Greyling, Belcher, & McKnight,
2013, p. 1). The researchers claimed that within this training institute positive tutor self-
evaluation and student feedback were not enough; it was necessary to triangulate participants
claims about their roles and practices (Greyling et al., 2013). The RGT was employed as part
of a multi-method (PCP-based) approach to create shared meanings (Greyling et al., 2013).
The researchers reported that the students' construing of the tutor's intended vocational training-
related meanings indicated that the tutor and the students in the program developed shared
learnings: "the [RG] ratings validated key themes in hairdressing training: becoming
employable and industry-ready, adopting an integrated theory-and-practice model; becoming
socialized into the hairdressing community of practitioners; ensuring participation in the group;
developing personal literacies as part of employability, as well as utilizing vocation-specific
learning spaces and tasks" (Greyling et al., 2013, p. 12).
2.4 Education: Shifting the Pedagogical Paradigm for More Effective Learning
Various methods have been used to address the knowledge required for professional teaching,
including interviews, multiple-choice and open-ended questionnaires about teaching and
learning situations (Baumert et al., 2010; Käpylä, Heikkinen, & Asunta, 2009), as well as
classroom observation (Rozenszajn, Snapir, & Machluf, 2019). However, according to current
research thinking, these approaches are firmly rooted in the past and do not support the
implementation of strategies and theories arising from newer educational research
(vanOostveen et al., 2019). Consequently, significant reforms have been slow to take hold in
educational systems around the world. Much of the reluctance can be attributed to a widely
held misconception of the nature of learning, namely, that knowledge is transferable.
Knowledge, which derives from learning, is socially enabled ("distributed cognition"
Hutchins, 1991, p. 283), but occurs in the mind of the individual learner (von Glasersfeld,
1984). For these reasons, efforts have been made in recent years to increase the application of
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RGT to evolve a pedagogical approach to learning which is more universal, ubiquitous, and
aligned with current conceptions of how learning occurs (Chu, Hwang, & Tsai, 2010; Hwang,
Hung, Chen, & Liu, 2014).
Starting at the turn of the 21st century, several important studies, strongly influenced
by constructivist cognitive theory, have begun to build a new view of the nature of learning,
including professional or practitioner learning, by moving from the use of RGT as a method
towards its use as a learning pedagogy. Several of these investigations will be discussed here.
The first was an in-service education study conducted on the initiative of the Italian Ministry
of Education that lent further insight into the active role of adults in their own professional
learning (Cherubini, Zambelli, & Boscolo, 2002). The research was aimed at fostering Italian
elementary, middle, and high school teachers' professional development concerning student
motivation (Cherubini et al., 2002). The use of repertory grids helped to show that the
elaboration of public knowledge and the construction of practical knowledge are closely linked
in an important reciprocal process of analysis, clarification, and integration (Cherubini et al.,
2002). In addition, interest was created for the incorporation of Repertory Grid in support of
the ongoing development of teachers' professional expertise (Cherubini et al., 2002). Other
studies also lend support to the idea that the evolution of a teaching identity appears to arise
from a dynamic connection between personal theories and self-concept on the one hand, and
social and occupational context on the other. One such investigation involved collaborative
action research with elementary and secondary science and technology teachers for the purpose
of enhancing the authenticity of the teacher development process (vanOostveen, 2005). The
goals of the project were to 1) give teachers opportunities to improve their understanding of
their subject matter, 2) allow teachers to improve their own practice, and 3) determine factors
which may affect this type of professional development (vanOostveen, 2005). Taking all the
associations represented in the repertory grids into account, the study found that a
representation of a teacher's value system (at the time of the elicitation) concerning the concepts
alluded to in the elements and constructs (i.e., teaching strategies and beliefs regarding these)
could be constructed (vanOostveen, 2005). Also, the findings suggested that employing
Repertory Grid in teacher professional learning can provide data about teacher attitudes
regarding the issues involved in their individual educational disciplines (vanOostveen, 2005).
In a Swedish study of teaching design and product development at the upper secondary
school level, twelve engineers and industrial designers contributed their interpretations of eight
pre-selected artefacts, with data collected and analyzed using Repertory Grid Technique
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(Persson, 2016). The aim of the study was to examine whether and what might be learned from
the participants' experiences and knowledge that is relevant to advancing this creative area of
education (Persson, 2016). The researchers felt that RGT would assist professional design
educators to better understand their varied interpretations of the same objects so that they could
build consensus around certain broader disciplinary notions and ideas. They concluded that
employing RGT pedagogically, as a regular part of planned lessons, would lead to stronger and
more consistent connections among teachers, students, and artefacts (Persson, 2016). (See
Figure 2, the elicitation procedure used in this study Persson, 2016, p. 547,
The professional learning of educators is a focal concern in an era of increasing reform
movements, as well as failed reforms, around the globe (Džinović, 2011). It has become clear
that changes in education cannot occur without the professional and personal change of the key
figures in education, that is, teachers themselves (Fullan, 2001). These developments have led
to an increased interest in meanings which teachers use in interpreting their profession and
professional development (Džinović, 2011). The process of reflexivity is considered
particularly important teachers are encouraged to become aware of their own implicit
educational theories; to question and revise them, in response to ever-changing professional
demands (Fullan, 2001; Mezirow, 2003; Schön, 2002). The most recent report from the
Brookings Institute states that successfully improving learning outcomes at scale will require
reckoning with how to scale teacher professional learning in an effective, efficient, and
equitable manner (Wyss & Robinson, 2020). The report goes on to state that professional
teacher learning "…should have the flexibility to address variations in participants'
experiences…." (Wyss & Robinson, 2020, para. 7). The urgency of this issue is particularly
evident in the evolution of educational technology integration (Kopcha, Neumann, Ottenbreit-
Leftwich, & Pitman, 2020). Three ideas about teacher decision-making with technology that
have emerged through the research are: technology integration is (1) value driven, (2)
embedded in a dynamic system, and, important to the discussion here, (3) a product of a
teacher's perception of what is possible (Kopcha et al., 2020). Research notes that perception
is the act of "extracting meaningful information from the environment to guide actions
adaptively" (Adolph & Kretch, 2015, p. 7). A recent research study aimed at addressing these
issues has determined that RGT mediated by WebGrid Plus moves beyond traditional
approaches and helps to facilitate more deeply and richly the complex negotiation of a teacher's
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decision-making process. This helps to extract the most meaningful information about
perceptions of dynamic internal and external considerations (Kopcha, et al., 2020).
The integration of digital technologies is profoundly influencing learning on a global
scale (Blayone, Barber, DiGiuseppe, & Childs, 2017). Looking ahead, new learning models
that strengthen reflection and deliberation skills are needed more than ever before. A significant
development in this area is the Fully Online Learning Model, FOLC (vanOostveen et al., 2016),
which frames the distribution of constructive criticality in learning communities (Blayone et
al., 2017). FOLC embraces the constructivist notion that all efforts to understand "reality",
including in virtual spaces, involve the social creation of knowledge and not just individual
"ingestion" of information (Johnson & Liber, 2008, as referenced by Blayone et al., 2017, p.
1). FOLC responds to the call for greater development of 4th Industrial Revolution
competencies sought by influential organizations such as the World Economic Forum,
including collaborative thinking (Garrison, 2016). FOLC, like the Community of Inquiry (CoI)
model (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000), is an adapted social-constructivist learning
model addressing those processes considered most central to deep learning (Blayone et al.,
2017). These processes are construed as interactions or transactions (Garrison et al., 2000),
categorized by several presences. They are grounded in Dewey's (1897) philosophy of bringing
together the personal and social dimensions of learning:
Figure 2: Fully Online Learning Community (FOLC) Model (vanOostveen et al., 2016, p.
In this regard, a recent study examining the awareness of web-based tools, along with their use
in learning contexts by instructors and students working in FOLC environments, asked
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participants in fully online courses at a medium-sized Canadian university to respond to a
survey, as well as participate in a series of Repertory Grid focus group sessions supported by
WebGrid Plus, all of which was held in an audio-video conferencing virtual room (Webb, van
Oostveen, Barber, Percival, & Childs, 2019). Rep Grid was found to be fundamental to the
collaborative learning and community-building which evolved during the study, "providing a
more fulsome and enriching learning opportunity" (Webb et al., 2019, p. 1258).
3.1 Repertory Grid as a Valuable Cross-Disciplinary Reflective Pedagogy
As considered in this paper, reflection is a "systematic, rigorous, disciplined way of thinking"
(Rodgers, 2002, p. 845) that involves sharing and critical dialogue within a supportive
environment (Summers, Chenette, Ingram, McCormack, & Cunningham, 2016). Ambrose,
Davis, and Ziegler (2013) have suggested that true learning requires reflection on acts of doing
or practicing what one is trying to learn, a suggestion consistent with the idea that reflection is
a cyclical process promoting continuity of experiences (Rodgers, 2002). Moreover, critical
reflection invokes a "change in perspective" (Kember, McKay, Sinclair, & Wong, 2008, p.
379), a process effectively facilitated by Rep Grid, as demonstrated in the studies sampled here.
The professional growth of a practitioner is largely affected by the ways in which he or she, as
a member of a professional community, interprets the relationships in that community and
construes their own role in it (Džinović, 2011), that is, how they modulate personal experience
with "sociality and commonality" (Kelly, 1955, p. 3). Therefore, it stands to reason that the
communal building of shared meanings (Wenger, 2010) is a fundamental component of
professionalism in any field. Through professional learning guided by Rep Grid as a pedagogy,
practitioners can determine an optimal proportion of professional uniformity versus
professional distinctiveness, two characteristics equally important for social learning
(Džinović, 2011). Arguably, RGT provides a pedagogical framework for how PCP might be
used to enhance professional learning and build community relations in any field (Rarey, 2015)
and especially in learning which is increasingly taking place online since the onset of the
current COVID19 pandemic (Li & Lalani, 2020). Research into how practitioners relate and
collaborate for professional learning shows that Rep Grid sustains "the development of
leadership and praxis" and exhibits potential to transform learning in the field (Österlind &
Denicolo, 2006, p. 38). As the research described in this paper has illustrated, Rep Grid offers
a broad range of convenience; its logic and process have a significant contribution to make in
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the learning of organizations and their constituent members (Procter, 2015). As a powerful
decision-making pedagogy that is reflective, informative, and engaging, Rep Grid provides
new insights through “constellatory construing” (Burr, King, & Heckmann, 2020, p. 6.) to
inform and empower trainers, practitioners, educators, and teachers. Moreover, Rep Grid's
pedagogical application holds implications for student learning, peer assessment, and learner
communities across subject domains, both in physical and virtual environments.
Further research is needed to continue to build the case for Rep Grid's pedagogical
operation through studies that document new and more refined applications of Rep Grid for the
elicitation of complex cognitions. Furthermore, growing the body of literature about
breakthroughs achieved with Rep Grid, especially where facilitated by WebGrid Plus and other
platforms and conducted through online interactions, will provide additional evidence of the
venturesome nature of Rep Grid as a pedagogy and its benefits as a theoretically-grounded
alternative for mapping learning across changing professional landscapes.
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