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Exclusion in an inclusive action research project: Drawing on student perspectives of school science to identify discourses of exclusion
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Mathematics, Technology and Science Education.
2007 (English)In: Educational action research, ISSN 0965-0792, Vol. 15, no 3, 417-440 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article reports on the outcomes of an action research project on gender and science education carried out in two upper secondary schools in Sweden. The article focuses on how student voices draw on wider societal discourses when they talk about what it means to be natural science students at the beginning of the twenty-first century. The article is divided into four sections. The first briefly describes the Swedish secondary school system, and identifies discourses of schooling and natural science in Swedish society. The second section contextualises the schools where the action research took place, concentrating in particular on the student focus groups. It further describes the methods used, the identification of themes from the students' discussion, and the analysis of student voices in the light of societal discourses. The third section explores and analyses the issues raised in the focus groups, and these are further discussed in the final section where new insights are provided, at an individual as well as a more general level. Overall, the article draws attention to the importance of student 'voices' and of the student perspective in discourses of science, gender and education.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routhledge, Taylor & Francis Group , 2007. Vol. 15, no 3, 417-440 p.
Keyword [en]
Upper secondary school, Gender, Ethnicity, Social constructivism, Discourse analysis
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-2370DOI: 10.1080/09650790701549693OAI: diva2:140332
Available from: 2007-05-11 Created: 2007-05-11 Last updated: 2009-05-28Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Talking and taking positions: An encounter between action rsearch and the gendered and racialised discourses of school science
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Talking and taking positions: An encounter between action rsearch and the gendered and racialised discourses of school science
2007 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis concerns processes of power relations in and about the science classroom. It draws on action research involving science and mathematics teachers in the Swedish upper secondary school (for students between 16 and 19 years). For the analysis, feminist post-structuralism, gender, and discourse theories (e.g. Butler and Foucault) are combined with critical action research methodology (e.g. Carr and Kemmis) and discourse analysis (e.g. Wetherell and Hall). The aim of the study is to make visible processes of inequality and to investigate how these are constructed in ‘talk’ or discourse about teaching and learning. The study grew out of teachers’ actions/small-scale projects in their own classrooms and so the study also investigates if and how action research can contribute to making visible, challenging and changing unequal practices and discourses of dominance. The first part of the thesis deals with this process and the analysis suggests that post-structural critiques of language and discourse are helpful in enabling actions to challenge inequities in the science classroom that currently exist. Five different articles constitute the second part of the thesis, two of which explore and survey research literature and argue for a need for more studies which investigate critically how science is shaped by specific social, cultural and historical contexts. Additionally, it is argued that it is important to focus not only on measuring differences among students but also on investigating how difference is constructed and how inequities can be challenged. The experiences and bodily feelings of what ‘race’ can do to gender (and vice versa) in a specific situation are recounted and examined in the third article which also invites different positions and complexity into the research field. The next two articles investigate how power and knowledge are produced, resisted and challenged in teacher and student talk within the action research project. The analysis draws on different discourses in contemporary Swedish society; for example a science discourse which produces school science (and its teachers and students) as high status, a gender equality discourse, a gender difference discourse, and an immigrant discourse which produces ‘immigrant students’ as problematic. Analysis of teacher talk reveals, for example, that long-established hierarchies and taken-for-granted values of school subjects in relation to gender reproduce advantage for some teachers but not for others, that teachers participate in the gendering of science subjects, and that changes in the teaching of science are resisted. Also students are located inside and outside the discourses they draw on, which qualifies or disqualifies them as ‘proper’ science students. Different borders are highlighted to show how students attach meaning to gender, social class, and ethnicity in different situations. Sometimes borders are produced inside bodies (the notion of the gendered brain, for example) and sometimes between cultures or according to family background. Resistance to dominant discourses is also visible in students’ talk and the ways in which teachers and students reproduce borders and exclusion in the science classroom through their practices. The analysis points out the need to initiate new research which can deconstruct among others, discourses of femininity and masculinity, the ‘immigrant student’ and school science.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, 2007. 45 p.
Doktorsavhandlingar i pedagogiskt arbete, ISSN 1650-8858 ; 16
action research, discourse analysis, power relations, processes of inequality, science classroom, the Swedish upper secondary school
National Category
Gender Studies
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-1135 (URN)978-91-7264-301-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2007-06-01, MA 121, MIT-huset, Umeå universitet, 901 87, Umeå, 10:00 (English)
Available from: 2007-05-11 Created: 2007-05-11 Last updated: 2009-05-28Bibliographically approved

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