03 SES 07 A, Curriculum Change and Teachers' Perceptions
Educational reforms have come to be cornerstones of educational governance (Erikson, 2017; Winter, 2017). The rationale seems to be that a continuously process of strengthening and renewing the educational system is essential to both individual and national progress (Ramirez & Boli, 1987). As a consequence of the many reforms, the educational system can be characterised by an alternation between periods of major change and more stable periods of minor adjustment (Lindberg & Vanyushyn, 2013). The changes reach into schools’ work processes and understandings of teacher professionalism (Alvunger, 2015; Biesta, 2014; Biesta, Priestley, Philippou, & Robinson, 2015; Erlandson & Karlsson, 2018; Hargreaves & Fullan, 2012; Luttenberg, Veen, & Imants, 2013; März & Kelchtermans, 2013; Schmidt & Datnow, 2005). Luttenberg and colleagues (2013) express concern that “this pressure for change can lead to perceptions of reduced autonomy and teacher discontentment” (p. 290). Also Erlandson and Karlsson (2018)are nervous about teachers. Teachers who find “their ideologies are non-consistent with a particular reform tend to reject it and emote negatively toward the change” (p. 26). In a Danish Upper Secondary School context, such concerns also seem well-placed. The Danish Upper secondary school is recognized as a Bildung-institution solidly founded in the German and Scandinavian tradition of Didactics (Krogh, 2005; Nordenbo, 1997). This tradition is often characterised with reference to concepts such as teacher autonomy referring to the concept of Bildung and didactical judgment (Krogh, 2005; Westbury, 2000). 2005 marks a turning point in the history of the upper secondary school. From 1903 until 2005 it did not undergo any significant reform initiated modernizations (Raae, 2011)and since 2005, no less than five reforms have been passed. Based on this, one could ask if teachers perceive the tradition base of the school to be challenged? However, one could also suggest that reforms could increase autonomy by creating a space to rethink and develop school and teaching in new and productive ways (Hopmann, 2003; Wermke & Forsberg, 2017).
The research question of this paper is:
How do teachers perceive the last 14 years of reforming in the Danish upper secondary gymnasium school, and what do they experience and expect with regard to the implications on their teacher professionalism?
The theoretical basis for the paper is found in sociological systems theory as it was developed in the 1980s and 1990s by the German sociologist Niklas Luhmann (Luhmann,  2000,  2016). This theory makes us capable of describing the complexity of reform processes in society and in Danish gymnasium schools as a dialogue between global inspirations and local mediations. According to Luhmann (1998), transition grows from within, from the need of dealing with an evergrowing complexity and contingency that forces a reflexive re-design of the ways and means of self-organisation (Hopmann, 2008). The transition processes areobserved as features of the present, but as linked to past and future through experience and expectation. With reference to Reinhard Koselleck’s meta theory on history, Luhmann argues that ”what moves in time is past/present/future together, in other words, the present along with its past and future horizons” (Luhmann,  2000, p. 307). Koselleck elaborates, that the horizon is “that line behind which a new space of experience will open, but which cannot yet be seen” (Koselleck, 2004 , p. 261). In this way, transition processesand the ever going future of schools are linked to the Prognosis of futureas it is established in a conceptual unity of respectively the Space of experienceand the Horizon of expectation(Koselleck, 2004 ).
The paper investigates teachers perceptions of reforming processes and their expectations for and experiences of the impact on their teacher professionalism, drawing on phenomenologically methodology oriented towards discovering the meaning of human experience (Osborne, 1990). The philosophical foundation is Husserl and his concept of intentionality (Husserl, 2014). This concept accentuates that we are not observing the world from outside, since we are already existing co-constitutionally with our world (Osborne, 1990). Reality is both construed by the subject and mirrored from the object out there (ibid.). This dualism is used to understand the reflexive re-designs mentioned above. Methodically, the paper draws on document analysis of policy documents and quantitative and qualitative data analysis of survey and interview data from a longitudinal 4-year research project ‘Gymnasiereform 2017’. In this project that was initiated in 2017, 11 researchers from Department for the Study of Culture, University of Southern Denmark follow 38 upper secondary schools’ reform work using a mixed method design with surveys to and ethnographic interviews with teachers (surveys, N=832), interviews, N=42). The longitudinal research project investigates reform work on 38 Danish upper secondary schools, from various perspectives. This includes teacher’s perceptions of and sensemaking related to reform processes. Furthermore, empirical material in the form of political documents interpreted as Danish political reforms enacted since 2005 i.e. legislations, agreements texts, notices etc. of varying designation and status, is included in the analysis. Data are systematically reflected within a systems theoretical frame. The starting point of the analysis is teachers’ perceptions of the ongoing reform processes. The teacher’s perceptions are linked to past and future through their experiences of themselves as teachers, their school, the upper secondary school as such and teacher professionalism in general and through their expectations of the impact of the reforms. This make us utilize our theoretical concept of prognosis of future.
This study aims to develop a better understanding of teachers perceptions of transitions processes coupled to their reform work and restructuring of education that is caused by this (Carlgren & Klette, 2008). The article will make a contribution to our understanding of changes or transitions related to reform processes specifically but also to our understanding of changes or transitions due to the making of local curriculum plans, collaborative decision making, new ways of communicating within and outside the schools more generally, discussing the ground for didactic choices. This will provide a solid basis for discussing how to organize teachers reform work in schools (Pietarinen et. Al. 2017). By drawing on the concept Prognosis of future, both teachers and schools experience as well as expectations are emphasized and we will be able to bring new perspectives on the reflexive re-designs in reforming processes between global inspirations and local mediations.
Biesta, G., Priestley, M., Philippou, S., & Robinson, S. (2015). The teacher and the curriculum: exploring teacher agency. The SAGE handbook of curriculum, pedagogy and assessment, 187-201. Carlgren, I., & Klette, K. (2008). Reconstructions of Nordic Teachers: Reform policies and teachers' work during the 1990s. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 52(2), 117-133. Erikson, J. (2017). A School for all or a School for the Labour Market? Analyzing the Goal Formulation of the 1991 Swedish Upper Secondary Education reform. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 61(2), 139-154. Erlandson, P., & Karlsson, M. R. (2018). From trust to control–the Swedish first teacher reform. Teachers and Teaching, 24(1), 22-36. Hargreaves, A., & Fullan, M. (2012). Professional capital: Transforming teaching in every school: Teachers College Press. Hopmann, S. (2003). On the evaluation of curriculum reforms. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 35(4), 459-478. Hopmann, S. (2008). No child, no school, no state left behind: Schooling in the age of accountability. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 40(4), 417-456. Husserl, E. (2014). Ideas for a Pure Phenomenology and Phenomenological Philosophy: First Book: General Introduction to Pure Phenomenology: Hackett Puiblishing Company. Koselleck, R. (2004 ). Futures past: on the semantics of historical time: Columbia University Press. Luhmann, N. ( 2000). Sociale systemer: grundrids til en almen teori: Hans Reitzel. Luhmann, N. ( 2016). Samfundets samfund. Kbh.: Hans Reitzel. Nordenbo, S. E. (1997). Danish didactics: An outline of history and research. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 41(3-4), 209-224. Osborne, J. W. (1990). Some basic existential-phenomenological research methodology for counsellors. Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy/Revue canadienne de counseling et de psychothérapie, 24(2). Ramirez, F. O., & Boli, J. (1987). The political construction of mass schooling: European origins and worldwide institutionalization. Sociology of education, 2-17. Raae, P. H. (2011). Implementeringsledelse: Ledelse af den dobbelte gymnasiereforms implementering: Syddansk Universitet. Institut for Filosofi, Pædagogik og Religionsstudier. Schmidt, M., & Datnow, A. (2005). Teachers’ sense-making about comprehensive school reform: The influence of emotions. Teaching and Teacher Education, 21(8), 949-965. Wermke, W., & Forsberg, E. (2017). The changing nature of autonomy: Transformations of the late Swedish teaching profession. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 61(2), 155-168. Westbury, I. (2000). Teaching as a reflective practice: What might Didaktik teach curriculum. Teaching as a reflective practice: The German Didaktik tradition, 15-39. Winter, C. (2017). Curriculum policy reform in an era of technical accountability:‘fixing’curriculum, teachers and students in English schools. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 49(1), 55-74.
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