23 SES 10 D, Students as Actors
Parallel Paper Session
Educational policies of many European states have been introducing new management models to enhance quality and efficiency of schools. “Governance research” does not conceptualize “regulation” as top-down process from politics and administration to executive actors (cf. Altrichter 2010a). It rather analyzes the formation, reinforcement and transformation of social order and social performance in the educational field from the perspectives of different actors in schools. Therefore, the contributions of different actors and the modes of coordination between them are reconstructed (Altrichter & Maag Merki 2010: 11). Under this perspective student representatives and students are seen as important (governance) actors who considerably contribute to the shape and attainment of individual schools and schooling in general. However, diverse interpretations of the role of students within a school exist (cf. Handy 1984) and their contributiong to the social formation and regulation of schools remains underresearched. Whereas in exercises of school-monitoring (cf. BMUKK 2007) students’ performances and observations are collected regularly as a reflection of the functioning of the system, in processes of school development it is mostly teachers and school leaders who are conceptualized as active actors (see e.g. Holtappels & Müller 2004). If students are researched in empirical studies, they are either used as data sources or they are treated as relative stable “objects” or social facts teachers have to handle (e.g. Böttcher & Brohm 2004, Krainz-Dürr et al. 2002, Schönig 2003). To obtain a more holistic account of the networks of action coordination which constitute schools, it is necessary i) to learn more about the views and contributions of actors considered “peripheral” by prior research and ii) to compare these views with the perceptions of other actors. Thus, the proposed paper will focus on the methods and results of student representatives’ contribution to the governance of schooling by researching perceptions of teachers, parents and student (representatives). The data is gathered within the two year Sparkling Science project “Students develop school?!”, funded by a research grant by the Austrian Ministry for Science and Research. This grant enables a research group from Johannes Kepler University Linz to research the contributions from students and their representatives to school governance collaboratively with students. As part of the research team they conduct their own research and, thus, become subjects, not just objects of research (cf. Kellett 2005, Lodge 2005). Thereby their roles and contributions will not be researched in a top-down research, but in cooperation with students and their teachers and their voice is acknowledged and their original contribution valued. This is done in order to understand and explain their potential and problems within the context of school governance as well as to contribute to their peripheral status within governance research.
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