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Variation of power and control in the one-to-one computing classroom: Finnish teachers’ enacted didactical designs in grade 1-6
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of applied educational science, Interactive Media and Learning (IML).
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of applied educational science, Interactive Media and Learning (IML).
2018 (English)In: ECER 2018: Inclusion and Exclusion, Resources for Educational Research?, 2018Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Research question and theory

This study is part of a larger Nordic research project, including a series of substudies with a common research objective of examining teachers’ didactical design in one-to-one computing classrooms in Denmark, Sweden and Finland (Jahnke et al., 2017). The findings presented in this paper is based on 16 classroom observations and 16 teacher interviews in grades 7-9 in Finland. One-to-one computing in K–12 education has grown rapidly worldwide through initiatives based on one laptop or tablet for each student (Islam & Grönlund, 2016). In the Nordic countries, studies on teachers’ working in one-to-one computing classrooms have been performed in Sweden (Fleischer, 2013; Håkansson Lindqvist, 2015; Tallvid, 2015, Bergström et al., 2017), in Norway (Blikstad-Balas, 2012), and in Denmark (Jahnke, Norqvist, & Olsson, 2014), while Finland still seems to be a blind spot on the map (Bocconi, Kampylis, & Punie, 2013). Important knowledge and understanding about Finnish teachers’ teaching in the one-to-one computing classroom is therefore missing. 

This study focuses on 16 teachers in a Finnish municipality that was among the first to implement a large-scale one-to-one computing initiative in Finland. Finnish teachers are prized for their high academic standards (Sahlberg, 2011), but also criticised for maintaining power and control by organising students in straight lines lectured by one teacher (Carlgren et al., 2006, Simola, 2005). One-to-one computing, is considered to be an innovation in the strive for modernisation of teaching and learning through increased student emancipation (Bocconi et al., 2013). The analysis presented here considers how these teachers’ in a variety of lessons demonstrate similarities and variations regarding their organisation of the classroom space as well as decisions in practice about content, pacing, and assessment. This mix of teachers’ designs of the classroom space and their enacted decisions during teaching form their didactical designs (Bergström et al., 2017). Specifically, this article analysis how Finnish teachers use of power and control across different subjects. This study aims to describe and understand how variations within, as well as, between teachers’ didactical design challenge and reproduce established teacher-student relationships. The following research question were asked: How can variations within, as well as between, different clusters of didactical design be understood in terms of power and control?

The concept of didactical design follows the European tradition of Didaktik (Klafki, 2000; Sensevy, 2012) where the teaching and learning process is problematized, for example, when considering imitative teaching in contrast to students’ active learning. Such dichotomies serve to illuminate how school environments, school subjects, teachers, students and ICTs are all relays of power and control, and how power and control is maintained, reproduced or challenged. For this study, Bernstein’s (2000, 1990) theory of material conditions of classrooms in relation to teachers’ communication in practice was found to be helpful for analysing teachers’ didactical design regarding the physical space and the enacted practice. In the material conditions of the classroom, Bernstein’s concept of classification was used to analyse power relations between objects for example, the arrangement of desks, ICTs, spaces and teacher-student relations. Depending on the degree of specialisation and insulation between objects, classification is either strong or weak. Strong classification indicates for example desks organised in lines, whereas with weak classification would desks be in groups.  Bernstein’s concept of framing highlight teachers’ communication and describes the locus of control about selection and sequence of content, pacing, evaluation and communication. If framing over selection of content is strong, it is the teacher who control such decisions, whereas if framing is weak the control is distributed to the students. Different power and control relationships give raise to different didactical designs with regard to possibilities and regulations in students learning.  

Methods

Four schools were visited twice during 2016. Classroom observations in 16 lessons (about 45minutes each) were conducted by two observers supported by one interpreter. The data comprise audio recordings of the teachers’ communication, field notes and photographs of the physical classroom space and situations. The subjects ranged from Native Language, Mathematics, Physics, English, Slojd, Geography and lessons based on thematic studies about students’ sport holiday and Scandinavia. The class size ranged from 8 to 22 students. The observations were followed up with post-lesson interviews. We asked questions that ranged from specific situations in the observed lesson, to the teachers’ experience to teach in the one-to-one computing classroom. Each interview lasted for about 60 minutes.

The use of different methods made triangulations of the different data possible. Each lesson was analysed with support of a theory-oriented coding scheme. In the analysis of the didactical design of the classroom environment, power relations were interpreted from photos and field notes. The classification between categories were interpreted on a two-point scale as either strong (C+) or weak (C-). In total, we analysed seven categories of “relations between” objects: desks, the teacher’s space and the students’ space, physical learning resources and one-to-one computing resources, the selection of software applications (apps), teacher and student, student and student, and the classroom and other facilities. In the next step, focus was turned to the teachers’ communication in the audio recordings. The concepts of framing was operationalised into six categories for control: selection, sequence, pacing, evaluation, teacher-student relationship and student-student relationship. These categories were coded on a four-point scale from very strong to very weak framing (F++, F+, F- F--). The results from the classification and framing analysis made it possible to estimate and differentiate different didactical designs. The didactical design findings were then considered in relation to the post-lesson interviews. The interviews provide a richer picture of the observed practice and beyond.

Expected outcomes 

For presenting some preliminary results a typology was used to illustrate the interplay between teachers’ didactical design of the physical classroom space and teachers’ enacted practice. In order to illustrate different nuances, quantitative data illustrate the degree to which teachers organised both furniture and digital resources, while qualitative aspects are based on teachers’ communication. From the preliminary analysis we can perceive differences in the material where some lessons demonstrate power and control relationships with similarities to traditional desk teaching. One group of lessons, demonstrate a practice where some of the power and control was distributed to the students. A third group of teachers indicated didactical designs where power and control were distributed to the students to a great extent. These teachers organised the students in groups and ICT resources demonstrated the similar value as printed books. Here, the control was distributed to the students both regarding the content, but also in pacing.  

This study is relevant since digital technologies in pedagogical practice is increasing world-wide and is assumed to change teaching and learning. However, previous studies have shown that Finnish teachers’ teaching has been reported to maintain previous traditions of teaching and learning through teachers’ power and control. Based on these clash of paradigms, this study has the potential to serve as a good what happens in Finnish classrooms when one-to-one computing is introduced.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018.
National Category
Pedagogical Work
Research subject
educational work
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-157900OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-157900DiVA, id: diva2:1302756
Conference
ECER 2018 “Inclusion and Exclusion, Resources for Educational Research?”, 3 – 7 September, Free University Bolzano, Italy.
Available from: 2019-04-05 Created: 2019-04-05 Last updated: 2019-05-17Bibliographically approved

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Bergström, PeterWiklund-Engblom, Annika

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