Network curriculum design? Relational dynamics of teachers’ associations in the design of Essential Learning in Portugal

Sílvia de Almeida, Joana Viana, Natália Barcelos, Maria do Céu Roldão, Helena Peralta

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The invitation extended by the Portuguese Ministry of Education to teachers’ associations (TAs), in 2016, to participate in the process of defining the Essential Learning (EL) is unparalleled in the Portuguese curriculum background, as in most countries in the world. In this text, we intend to understand the social structure and the interaction dynamics created by the TAs when drawing up the EL, answering the following research questions: (i) Which actors were invited by the TAs to join their teams, and what relationships did they establish with each other? (ii) Which relational dynamics did the associations of the various subject areas establish with each other? The methodology used was the social network analysis (SNA), which allows us to visualise the structure of social relationships and their interaction patterns and represent them graphically. We developed a network analysis questionnaire and applied it to the 18 TAs that drafted the EL. The results show that the TAs formed teams were composed mainly of experts in the subject area.TAs have a social representation of professional knowledge that underestimates curriculum expertise.Furthermore,there was little collaboration between associations in the design of the EL, which can be justified by the tradition of the Portuguese education system before the 25th April Revolution, based on teacher’s individual work, and by the origin or subject-based culture of the TAs.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere23015
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalRevista Portuguesa de Educacao
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Curriculum design
  • Curriculum policies
  • Network analysis
  • Teachers’ associations
  • Teachers’ collaboration


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