09 SES 03 C, Individual Education Plans: Evaluating Practices and Perceptions
Parallel Paper Session
The study that will be presented at the ECER conference is part of a compilation thesis in which all included studies share the same research objective, defined as the Individual Education Plan as part of teachers’ assessment practice.
The study is carried out in Sweden, where all compulsory school pupils since 2008 receive an Individual Education Plan (IEP) twice a year. The purpose of the plan is twofold; to assess and provide information about pupils’ present levels of knowledge, and to be a formative and concrete tool in each individual’s learning process (Swedish National Agency for Education, 2008).
In two previous studies, focus has been on the document and its content (Hirsh 2011a, 2011b), through analysis of 379 collected IEPs from grades 3, 5 and 8 in Swedish compulsory school. The current study, based on interviews with teachers, aims to explore the relation between document and pedagogical practice. The main research question is:
· In what ways do teachers perceive of the IEP as documentation practice and pedagogical tool?
In an article from 2007, Habib and Wittek proposes a tentative framework to support empirical analysis of portfolios as pedagogical tools for formative and summative assessment in higher education. Although the IEP is not the same as a portfolio, there are clear similarities between the two, in that both are meant to function as documentation and basis for assessment, as well as pedagogical tools.
The term IEP can be used and perceived of in various ways. It is generally used with reference to the actual document as a physical artifact, but often also with reference to working patterns that arise when the document in various ways is put into practice. Moreover, the use of the IEP - writing the document as well as putting it to practice - might also lead its users (in this case the teachers) to new modes of “IEP thinking” and/or acting as a result of the IEP experience. Teachers’ perception of the IEP and its functions must therefore be understood and discussed on different levels.
Building on Habib and Wittek (2007), three sets of ideas are used in analyzing and discussing the data material of the present study; Watofsky’s notions of primary, secondary and tertiary artifacts (Wartofsky, 1979), the concepts of inscription and translation (Akrich & Latour, 1991; Säljö, 2005), and Wertsch’s notions of mastery and appropriation (Wertsch, 1998).
Different forms of IEP work, as well as other related documentation and assessment practices, are used in a number of countries in Europe and internationally. Previous studies (e. g. Hirsh, 2011a; Tennant, 2007) point to several similarities between countries using IEP:s, although national contexts vary in terms of frames and purposes of IEP and IEP work. Research that increases the understanding of this topic is therefore relevant beyond the specific context in which the study was conducted.
Akrich, M & Latour, B. (1991). A summary of a convenient vocabulary for the semiotics of human and nonhuman assemblies. In W. E. Bijker & J. Law (Eds.), Shaping technology/building society: Studies in sociotechnical change (259-264). London: MIT Press. Graneheim, U.H. & Lundman, B. (2004). Qualitative content analysis in nursing research: concepts, procedures and measures to achieve trustworthiness. Nurse Education Today, 24, 105-112. Engeström, Y. (2001). Expansive learning at work: Toward an activity theoretical reconceptualization. Journal of Education and work, 14(1), 133-155. Hirsh, Å. (2011a). A tool for learning? An analysis of targets and strategies in Swedish Individual Education Plans. Nordic Studies in Education, 31(1), 14-30. Hirsh, Å. (2011b). The Individual Education Plan – a gendered assessment practice?. (In press). Assessment in Education, Priciples, Policy and Practice. Habib, L. & Wittek, L. (2007). The Portfolio as Artifact and Actor. Mind, Culture and Activity, 14(4), 266-282. Swedish National Agency for Education. 2008. Allmänna råd för den individuella utvecklingsplanen med skriftliga omdömen [Advices for the Individual Education Plan with written assessments] Stockholm: Fritzes. Säljö, R. (2005). Lärande och kulturella redskap [Learning and cultural tools]. Stockholm: Norstedts. Tennant, G. (2007). IEPs in mainstream secondary schools: an agenda for research. Support for Learning, 22(4), 204-208. Wartofsky, M. (1979). Models. Representations and the scientific understanding. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Reidel. Wertsch, J. V. (1998). Mind as Action. New York: Oxford University Press.
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