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Consultation in Special Needs Education in Rural Schools in Sweden: An Act of Collaboration between Educators
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education. (Arcum)
2017 (English)In: Journal of Education and Training, ISSN 2330-9709, Vol. 4, no 1, 8-26 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The article attempts to shed light on how the expertise of special educators can be utilized in classroom teachers' professional development at rural schools with a diverse student body. The study focused on the educational consultations that took place between the two types of professionals, namely the special educators and the classroom teachers, at three rural schools in three communities in northern Sweden. The special educators did not work at the schools. Rather, they worked at Community centers and ran the consultation with the aid of ICT or when they visited the schools. The multiple-case study describes and analyzes the a) context for consultation, b) how consultation is used to support the teachers, and c) the consultation strategies. The data collection methods were observations, interviews, and questionnaires. After the interviews were transcribed, the data were analyzed by thematic content analysis. The results show that the consultations were based on students’ needs, but the consultations focused on the learning environment more than on individual shortcomings. The two professionals collaborated and shared their professional expertise across professional boundaries. This boundary-crossing professional collaboration seems to deepen the consultation between the two professionals and enable them to work together to create a learning environment that supports all pupils.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 4, no 1, 8-26 p.
Keyword [en]
class teacher, consulting strategies, educational consultation, professional development, special educator
National Category
Pedagogy
Research subject
Education
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-130599DOI: 10.5296/jet.v3i1.10422OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-130599DiVA: diva2:1068474
Available from: 2017-01-25 Created: 2017-01-25 Last updated: 2017-03-09Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Inre kraft och yttre tryck: perspektiv på specialpedagogisk verksamhet i glesbygdsskolor
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Inre kraft och yttre tryck: perspektiv på specialpedagogisk verksamhet i glesbygdsskolor
2017 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[en]
Inner power and outer pressure : perspectives on special needs education in rural schools
Abstract [en]

The overall aim of this doctoral thesis is to increase knowledge and understanding of special needs education in rural schools. More specifically, the purpose of this thesis is to examine and analyse the enabling and constraining conditions in special needs education for the mission of class teachers', principals' and special educators'. To fulfil this purpose, the following research question is posed: What are the enabling and constraining conditions for special needs education and its organisation, and what meanings are given to special needs education in rural schools? In order to meet this aim four studies were conducted in a total of 58, mainly Swedish rural schools. The schools were spread out geographically and represented both public and independent rural schools. The empirical data consists of interviews, observations and questionnaires. The method of analysis was mainly qualitative content analysis. Descriptive statistics were also used. The first study (Article 1) examines class teachers' conditions for supporting pupils with special educational needs in seven rural schools in Sweden, Norway and Finland. The main results of the interview study are summarized into four themes; relationship, collaboration, distance and concern. The second study (Article II) investigates how principals in rural Swedish schools organize special needs education. A web questionnaire was answered by 45 principals. The results show that the principals balance between an individual approach to special needs and a flexible way of organizing special needs education. The third study (Article III) examines how special educators' expertise in educational consultation is utilized in order to support professional development of class teachers who work in rural schools with diverse pupil groups. Three authentic consultation sessions were observed and analysed. The results show that consultation as a support strategy enables the class teachers to support pupils with special educational needs and strengthens professional collaboration between special educators and class teachers. The fourth study (Article IV) investigates what meanings educators working as principals in independent rural schools attach to special needs education. The data collection instrument was a questionnaire with open-ended questions. According to the principals' special needs education is an activity aimed at supporting all pupils' learning and development. The results also show that the independent schools have strong ties to the surrounding community. The thematic analysis of the four studies displays two main concepts; inner force and outer pressure. These concepts illustrate the enabling as well as the constraining conditions for special needs education in rural schools. The inner force stems from relationships, familiar atmosphere, the possibilities to meet all pupils' needs, collaboration and flexible ways of organizing the educational activities, while the outer pressure stems from threats of school closure, lack of resources and unappreciative municipal authorities. Despite the constraining conditions, which make the rural school vulnerable, the enabling conditions seem to dominate, making the rural school an inclusive learning environment able to meet all pupils' diverse learning needs.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, 2017. 115 p.
Series
Akademiska avhandlingar vid Pedagogiska institutionen, Umeå universitet, ISSN 0281-6768
Keyword
rural school, special needs education, multi-grade teaching, perspective, inclusion
National Category
Pedagogy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-130601 (URN)978-91-7601-649-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-02-17, Humanisthuset, Hörsal G, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 10:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2017-01-27 Created: 2017-01-26 Last updated: 2017-03-07Bibliographically approved

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Citation style
  • apa
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Language
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Output format
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