Expansive and expensive EP training: A CHAT analysis of the EP training programme in Scotland

Tracey Colville (Lead / Corresponding author), Gillian Horribine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims: This paper presents a study investigating factors underpinning EP training in Scotland and the impact of these on trainee Educational Psychology learning and development. It draws on second-generation Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) (Engeström, 2001) and activity system analysis (Yagamata-Lynch, 2010) to consider the organizational, social, cultural and historical factors that have influenced the current training programme.

Method: The views of six stakeholder groups were gathered via on-line questionnaire (lecturers, guest speakers, trainees, Educational Psychology (EP) managers, EP practice supervisors, and governance-level professionals). Analysis of qualitative data was undertaken first via thematic analysis and then CHAT analysis.

Findings: Findings indicate that trainees, lecturers and practitioners have a sophisticated understanding of the dialogic, reflective, relational and collaborative aspects of trainee learning on placement and at university. However, contradictions between elements of the training activity system may hinder optimal delivery of training and governance of the training partnership. These include: (a) ‘clunky 2-stage model (tool) versus clarity of roles in delivery and governance of the training programme’, (b) Clunky 2-stage model versus optimal trainee experience in year 3 of training, (c) university/professional standards versus contractual/funding obligations versus quality of trainee experience. These finding suggests potential for expansive development as all six stakeholder groups emphasised the need to move to a three-year doctoral programme. Barriers to this are considered as the primary contradiction in EP training in relation to cost/ benefits for each stakeholder group invested in the training partnership.

Limitations: The views of some stakeholders in the training partnership such as local authority and government representatives were not included in the study and inclusion of those using DWR methodology could have enabled discussion on sustainable transformation in the training model.

Conclusions: A nuanced CHAT analysis of trainee learning and development and the broader partnership model of training in Scotland has not been studied in this way before and therefore makes a significant contribution to research in this area. The findings and insights of this study may provide evidence to policy-makers and budget holders to support decision making around development of future training programmes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-108
Number of pages26
JournalEducational and Child Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2023


  • Cultural-Historical Activity Theory
  • student learning and development
  • educational psychology training programmes
  • theory/practice links


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