03 SES 06 B, Curriculum and Purposeful Schooling
The capability approach offers a rich and innovative ethical framework for the evaluation of schools outcomes (Nussbaum 2011; Robeyns 2005, 2017; Sen 1993, 1999, 2009, Nielsen & Kjeldsen 2010; Otto et al. 2015; Saito 2003; Walker 2005; Walker & McLean 2013; Walker & Unterhalter 2007). However, in how far and how the approach can be operationalized for empirical research has been under debate (Alkire 2009; Chiappero-Martinetti & Roche 2009). The purpose of this article is to give an example of a possible approach for operationalization of the capability approach in a research project in Norwegian upper secondary school. The paper will elaborate on the capability approach based on considerations which operationalise the concept of Bildung. Such a possibility has been suggested in broad perspective (Andresen, Otto, Ziegler 2010) and by Sortlaender (2017) applying a Klafkian perspective. Hence, we ask: might the empirical transformation of the capability approach be a functionally operationalization of the Bildung as an outcome?
The study is relevant because Norway's didactic intentions on good education and human liberation did not succeed in that all pupils achieved "authentic success" (Werler 2011, pp. 157-159). Based on this reflection, we ask how and in what ways the pupils themselves experience and express that school education facilitates and promotes or possibly inhibits their freedom to develop their potentials and capabilities. Specifically, we seek answers to what the students experience and express that they can actually become, do, or be. Therefore we investigate how students actually experience and express what they actually experience and what they evaluate as important for their (future) life (Walker & Unterhalter 2007).
In our project, four concepts are of importance: capabilities, functionings, conversion factors, and agency. The term capability refers to pupils' opportunity conditions and freedom to develop their potentials. It comprises all the students actually possible doings' and beings' (Sen 1993, p. 30). What the students actually do or are, names the capability approach as functionings: "A functioning is an achievement, while an ability is the ability to achieve" (Sen 1987 p. 36). Mapping pupils's capabilities answer the question: "What are people really able to do and what kind of person are they able to be?" (Robeyns 2017, p. 9).
The study has a comparative two-case design consisting of two different student groups at two different education programs in Norwegian upper secondary schools. We have defined the two programs as the study's research units. Data collection was conducted by using semi-structured, theory-driven, dyadic interviews. Such a method gives the students voice, shows sensitivity to their current context, and is non-reductive.
A key question in our study was what capabilities would be relevant and whether we had to analyze capabilities, functionings, or both (Lessmann 2012). According to Comim (2001, p. 4), such challenges could be avoided by representing capabilities through combinations of functioning vectors. Thus, we used the student’s expressions on what they are or what they are able to do as functional replacements of capabilities. We can therefore understand the degree and amount of achieved functionings as representatives of capabilities. Put in another way, capabilities can be regarded as derivatives of functionings (Gaspar & Van Steveren 2003). The paper presentation will show how we have transformed the capability approach into significant empirical categories. Further, we show how we have developed theory-based categories (at indicator level) in order to develop a deductive, theory-driven research design. The presentation will also give an exemplary insight into the results achieved. To be short, we did not elaborate on the Bildung concept in this proposal. We assume that the manifold discussion of the various content-related perspectives is well known.
Alkire S. (2007). Choosing dimensions: the capability approach and multidimensional poverty, In N. Kakwani and J. Silber (Eds.), The Many Dimensions of Poverty, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, pp. 89–119. Chiappero-Martinetti, E. & Roche, J. M. (2009). Operationalization of the Capability Approach, from Theory to Practice: A Review of Techniques and Empirical Applications. In: E. Chiappero-Martinetti (ed.), Debating Global Society: Reach and Limits of the Capability Approach (pp.157–203). Fondazione Feltrinelli. Comim, F. (2001). Operationalizing Sen’s Capability Approach. Paper prepared for the Conference Justice and Poverty: Examining Sen’s Capability Approach, Cambridge 5-7 June 2001. Gaspar,D. & Van Staveren, I. (2003). Development as Freedom – And as What Else? Feminist Economics 9(2-3), pp. 137-161. Kjeldsen, C.C & Bonvin, J-M. (2015). The Capability Approach, Education and the Labor Marked. I: H.-U. Otto (ed.), Facing Trajectories from School to Work. Towards a Capability- Friendly Yought Policy in Europe. Springer International Publisher in Switzerland. Lessmann, O. (2012). Challenges in Applying the Capability Approach Empirically: An overview of Existing Studies, UFZ discussion papers, Leipzig. Nielsen J.R. & Kjeldsen, C.C (2010). Capability Approach. En annerledes tilgang til pædagogik, uddannelse og omsorg. Århus: VIASYSTIME. Nussbaum, M. (2000). Women and human development. Cambridge University Press. Nussbaum, M. (2010). Not for Profit. Why Democracy Needs the Humanities. Princeton University Press. Nussbaum, M. (2011). Creating Capabilities. The Human Development Approach. Harvard University Press. Cambridge. Robeyns, I. (2005). The Capability Approach: a theoretical survey. Journal of Human Development 6(1), 93-117. DOI: 10.1080/146498805200034266 Robeyns, I. (2017). Wellbeing, Freedom and Social Justice: The Capability Approach Re-Examined. Open Book Publisher. Sen, A. (1987). The Standard of Living. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press Sen, A. (2009). The Idea of Justice. Penguin Books. Terzi, L. (2007). The Capability to be Educated. In: M. Walker & E. Unterhalter, (Eds.) (2007). Amartya Sen’s Capability Approach and Social Justice in Education. Palgrave McMillian Publisher. Walker, M. (2005). Amartya Sen ́s Capability Approach and Education. Educational Action Research, 13 (1), 103-110. Walker, M. & Unterhalter, E. (Eds.) (2007). Amartya Sen’s Capability Approach and Social Justice in Education. Palgrave McMillian Publisher. Werler, T. (2011). Benefitting from the Public Good in a Heterogeneous Landscape. In: T. Werler, (Ed.), Heterogeneity. General Didactics meets the Stranger. Waxman Verlag. Andresen, S., Otto, H. U., & Ziegler, H. (2008). Bildung as human development: An educational view on the capabilities approach. In Capabilities—Handlungsbefähigung und Verwirklichungschancen in der Erziehungswissenschaft, 165-197. VS Verlag.
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