27 SES 08 C, What is at Stake? Investigations into Quality of Teaching and Student Achievement
During the last decades, a neo-liberal governing of public education has emerged and been enhanced throughout the school- systems in nations (Au, 2016). Following from this, the vehicle of development in the nordic education systems are anchored in a corporate-logic in which economic competition and technological change have taken central places (Antikainen, 2006). An orientation towards goal-management and a marketisation of the school has been displayed in reforms especially from the 1990s and forward, encompassing choice, efficiency and accountability (Rönnberg, 2011).
Two examples of this is the very predominant practices of the increased use of ICT in teaching and learning and also, increased emphasis on national assessment (Verger, Lubienski & Steiner-Kamsi, 2017). Both of these practices are in the core of making education more efficient and holding higher quality, which is ultimately the teachers responsibility and something that the schools is held accountable for. Enhancement of knowledge and quality is assumed to be an engine for progress and are at the same time means for the state to govern a system that is imprinted by globalisation, decentrantralisation, privatization and local self-governing (Carlbaum, Hult, Lindgren, Novak, Rönnberg, Segerholm, 2014). Data-use in education have then become important tools for producing evidence, as quality indicators and for the settings of goals (Prøitz, Mausethagen & Skedsmo, 2017), which is seen both in the collection of results from the tests and in the use of ICT in the classroom.
This contribution explores two of the most prominent reforms made in the Swedish school system the last decade, and that have connections to the above depicted global and neo-liberal logic of governing education. 1: Increased emphasis on the use of ICT in teaching and learning and 2: Increased and earlier national assessment and grading. The Swedish context in particular provides a large number of ICT initiatives, so called one-to-one computing, with both laptops and tablets for each student reported in almost all of the 290 Swedish municipalities (Becker & Taawo, 2018). In addition, national testing has been advanced and is now administered to preschool class, third grade, sixth grade and ninth grade in compulsory school.
They are both very dominant as institutionalised practices in the Swedish school and we state that they carries with them disparate routines, rules and roles for how to be a teacher. At the same time, the nordic school model is characterized by “providing schooling of high and equal quality, regardless of children’s and young people’s resources, origin and location“ (Lundahl, 2016, p. 3). These elements of equity and quality is also a point of departure and argument for implementing changes in school policy. Although equity is not very well demarcated, and heavily weighted with the neo-liberal logic and in addition, depicted as something the schools and teachers are held accountable for (Bagger, Norén, Boistrup & Lundahl, 2019). Therefore, the teachers role become in the core of these changes and how their space of action within the dominant practices of national testing and use of ICT in teaching and learning, important to explore further.
The purpose of this article is to contribute with knowledge on the teacher role in the practice of using ICT in education and the practice of giving national tests. Three research questions have guided the investigation: RQ1: What does the teachers role include in the practice of giving tests appear. RQ2: What does the teachers’ role include in the practice of using ICT in teaching and learning? RQ3: What differences and similarities are there in the two settings regarding demands, expectations, norms and routines - what “is” it to be a teacher and go between these contexts.
Van Leeuwens (2008) theories was the point of departure in our exploration of the teachers’ role in relation to the practice at hand. Therefore, both of these investigated practices are understood as social practices. We then draw on Van Leeuwens (2008) understanding of social practices and how they shape and contribute to the role of the teachers. Van Leeuwen define social practice from 10 different elements: participants, actions, performance modes, eligibility conditions (participants), presentations style, times, locations, eligibility conditions (locations), resources: tools and materials, eligibility conditions (resources). All these concepts shall be understood in relation to the social practice. Thus, the concept of participant concern a specific role of, for example, teachers and students in the two contexts. The actions were then framed as performed in sequences which includes, for example, the pace of an action, performance modes, time and location (Van Leeuwen, 2008). Teachers are within these assumed to construct specific knowledge situated within legitimate perspectives. Hence, prevalent social discursive practices shapes and contributes to the role of the teachers whilst creating a possible space for action at the same time as the teachers shapes and contributes to the social discursive practice. The empirical material originates from two larger research projects (dnr:721-2013-774; drn: 721-208-4646) founded by the Swedish research council. The data comprise 21 teachers in the national test project and 26 teachers in the ICT project. The material contains classroom observations assisted with video, audio and field note documentation and retrospective teacher interviews individually and in groups. In both projects, teachers were interviewed and observed with the purpose of exploring the role of the teacher in the social practice at hand - but with different focus areas. In the NP project the aim was to look into if and how the student was affected by testing and in the ICT project the aim was to examining the kinds of enacted practices that arise from teachers’ organisation of the physical space, including ICTs, and teachers’ communication. We have in this article revisited the data from both projects, with a common methodology which makes the two social practices and their effect on the teachers’ role, comparable. The analytical procedure was to explore which specific participants (teachers) take which particular actions and in which performance modes they are performed, to which time-aspects and locations for the two practices and thereafter compare the teacher's role.
The roles in the national test practice and the ICT practice are here considered as a liminal space between two different social practices. Individually, these bear with them significantly different spaces, times for action, levels of creativity, kinds of questions, answers and support and essentially how the teacher approaches the students and the tasks. The major differences indicate that in the social practice of ICT, the teacher's role is supposed to promote creativity and stimulate curiosity, creativity and activity. Activity is also crucial in the situation of national tests, but the teacher role is in essence supposed to promote students listening, following and focusing on individual achievement. Further, order issues as sound level and how and where to sit, differs greatly. A conclusion is that between these practices, there is a (dis)harmony of acting as a teacher. When we reflect on the outcome, these practices are significantly different in a way that makes us to consider them as a liminal space. Still, the teacher has to move effortless and presumably seamless between these two systems of norms regarding teaching and learning. In periods, it is not very unlikely that the half of the school day is national tests and the other half consists of some kind of collaborative and creative ICT supported learning activity. The liminal space is crucial to acknowledge in terms of the energy involved in changing role, and also that it might be had for some students to understand the changed appearance of their teacher and the changed demands of the situation. The contrasts between these practices highlight probably deeper questions about what knowledge is in today’s school and society, as well as, for whom education is aimed for, and whose interest it is supposed to serve?
Antikainen, A. (2006). In Search of the Nordic Model in Education. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, vol. 50, no. 3, pp. 229–243. Au, Wayne. (2016). Social Justice and Resisting Neoliberal Education Re315-19 comprehensive education, Vol.58(3), p.315-324. form in the USA. FORUM: For Promoting 3-19 Comprehensive Education, 58(3), Bagger, A. , Norén, E. , Boistrup, L. & Lundahl, C. (2019). Digitalized national tests in mathematics: a way of increasing and securing equity?. In: J. Subramanian, (ed.), PROCEEDINGS OF THE TENTH INTERNATIONAL MATHEMATICS EDUCATION AND SOCIETY CONFERENCE . The tenth International Mathematics Education and Society conference (MES10), Hyderabad, India, Jan 28th-Feb 2nd, 2019. Hyderabad, India: Becker, P., & Taawo, A. (2018). 1:1 initiatives in Sweden [In Swedish]. Retrieved from http://www2.diu.se/framlar/ egen-dator/ Carlbaum, S., Hult, A., Lindgren, J., Novak, J., Rönnberg, L. & Segerholm, C. (2014). Skolinspektion Som Styrning. Utbildning & Demokrati, (23) pp. 5–20. Lundahl, Lisbeth. (2016). Equality, Inclusion and Marketization of Nordic Education: Introductory Notes. Research in Comparative and International Education, 11(1), 3-12. Prøitz, T., Mausethagen, S., & Skedsmo, G. (2017). Data use in education: Alluring attributes and productive processes. Nordic Journal of Studies in Educational Policy, 3(1), 1-5. Rönnberg, L. (2011). Exploring the Intersection of Marketisation and Central State Control through Swedish National School Inspection. Education Inquiry, vol. 2, no. 4, pp. 689–707. Utbildningsdepartementet (2017). Nationell strategi för digitaliseringen av undervisningen. Bilaga till regeringsbeslut I:1 Van Leeuwen, T. (2008). Discourse and Practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Verger, A, Steiner-Khamsi, G, & Lubienski,C. (2017). The Emerging Global Education Industry: Analysing Market-Making in Education through Market Sociology. Globalisation, Societies and Education, 15(3), 325-340.
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