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Talking and taking positions: An encounter between action rsearch and the gendered and racialised discourses of school science
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Mathematics, Technology and Science Education.
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.
Series
Doktorsavhandlingar i pedagogiskt arbete, ISSN 1650-8858 ; 16
Keyword [en]
action research, discourse analysis, power relations, processes of inequality, science classroom, the Swedish upper secondary school
National Category
Gender Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-1135ISBN: 978-91-7264-301-7 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-1135DiVA: diva2:140333
Public defence
2007-06-01, MA 121, MIT-huset, Umeå universitet, 901 87, Umeå, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2007-05-11 Created: 2007-05-11 Last updated: 2009-05-28Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Reconceptualising gender and science education: from biology and difference to language and fluidity
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Reconceptualising gender and science education: from biology and difference to language and fluidity
2007 (English)In: Tidskrift för lärarutbildning och forskning, ISSN 1 404-7659, Vol. 14, no 3, 23-39- p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article explores the intersections of science, science education, gender- and feminist research in an attempt to provide an insight in how these areas are linked. The aim is to contribute to the discussion of equality in society and, specifically, how it relates to teacher and science education. The article takes a genealogical perspective (Foucault, 1984) by exploring taken-for-granted 'truths' and 'objects' in science education research and tracing modern classroom practices back to older scientific practices. The analysis shows that gendered patterns and practices continue to reproduce, but also that notions of science, and gender, and 'race', sexuality etc. are reproduced in practices in different ways, are fluid and unstable, and therefore are challengeable. The study concludes that despite recent research which goes further than the conventional 'counting heads' or 'measuring sex differences', more studies of gender in science education are needed, which place a greater emphasis on critical analysis.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Fakultetsnämnden för lärarutbildning, Umeå universitet, 2007
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-2366 (URN)
Note
Posten ändrad efter att artikeln publicerats.Available from: 2007-05-11 Created: 2007-05-11Bibliographically approved
2. Gender and Equity in Science Education: a survey of selected journals (2000-5)
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Gender and Equity in Science Education: a survey of selected journals (2000-5)
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Gender Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-2367 (URN)
Available from: 2007-05-11 Created: 2007-05-11 Last updated: 2012-08-10Bibliographically approved
3. Reflexive Writing and the Question of ‘Race’: An intellectual journey for a Swedish researcher
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Reflexive Writing and the Question of ‘Race’: An intellectual journey for a Swedish researcher
2007 (English)In: Present Challenges in Gender Research, Umeå: National School of Gender Research , 2007, 29-42 p.Chapter in book (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This article discusses personal reflection and reflexive writing as tools to unpack and further develop an understanding of the notion of ‘race’ and its impact on an ongoing research project in science education.

My doctoral work concerns action research in secondary education, and it explores gender issues in the science classroom. In the project seven science and mathematics teachers were involved and it aimed at challenging unequal teaching and learning practices. Over a period of one year, we met every month for group discussions concerning ‘critical incidents’ realting to gender in the classroom. Parallel to readings and discussions, minor practical projects were initiated in the teachers' classrooms, aiming at making the teaching more inclusive.

This specific text, however, demonstrates how my understanding of the research project, which was based on my Swedish gender perspective, was challenged by experiences gained during a visit to South Africa. Reflexivity enabled an ‘intellectual journey’, which forced new issues into the research project. Drawing on Finlay (2002) and other feminist researchers, reflexivity is discussed as a tool in qualitative research. The article problematizes the notion of gender, discusses the notion of intersectionality, and takes personal writing as a starting point for problematizing the notion of ‘race’ in Sweden, as compared to South Africa. It then discusses, through personal narrative, the importance of reflexivity in seeking to understand experience. The final part of the text examines the consequences of having a ‘race’ perspective for the analysis of Swedish research. Theoretical frameworks include critical multiculturalism (May, 1999), and feminist poststructuralism, all of which show how gender, social class and ‘race’ can be made visible as well as the fluidity of these concepts in different contexts (Mulinari, 2004).

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: National School of Gender Research, 2007
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-2368 (URN)978-91-7264-285-0 (ISBN)
Available from: 2007-05-11 Created: 2007-05-11Bibliographically approved
4. Teacher talk: producing, resisting and challenging discourses about the science classroom
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Teacher talk: producing, resisting and challenging discourses about the science classroom
2009 (English)In: Gender and Education, ISSN 0954-0253, E-ISSN 1360-0516, Vol. 21, no 6, 735-751 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The aim of the project which forms the basis of this article was to make the science classroom more inclusive by challenging discriminatory practices. Science teachers from two secondary schools in Sweden agreed to be involved in an action research project over one year. Each teacher was to carry out a study concerning their own teaching and regular meetings were held for planning, evaluation and discussion. These meetings were analysed and suggest that science subjects are gendered and female science teachers face more resistance than their male peers, sometimes even being positioned as unprofessional. However, the science discourse is continually negotiable with the analysis showing challenge both to science as a male field and to the content that makes up science. Power relations other than gender are also visible and make patterns more complex. The analysis will offer a conceptual framework for understanding how gender in education is produced and reproduced in practice.

 

 

The aim of the project which forms the basis of this article was to make the science classroom more inclusive by challenging discriminatory practices. Science teachers from two secondary schools in Sweden agreed to be involved in an action research project over one year. Each teacher was to carry out a study concerning their own teaching and regular meetings were held for planning, evaluation and discussion. These meetings were analysed and suggest that science subjects are gendered and female science teachers face more resistance than their male peers, sometimes even being positioned as unprofessional. However, the science discourse is continually negotiable with the analysis showing challenge both to science as a male field and to the content that makes up science. Power relations other than gender are also visible and make patterns more complex. The analysis will offer a conceptual framework for understanding how gender in education is produced and reproduced in practice.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, Taylor & Francis, 2009
Keyword
action research, secondary school, science subjects, practices, power relations, discourse analysis
National Category
Pedagogical Work
Research subject
genusvetenskap
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-2369 (URN)10.1080/09540250903119146 (DOI)000273005400007 ()
Available from: 2007-05-11 Created: 2007-05-11 Last updated: 2017-06-08Bibliographically approved
5. Exclusion in an inclusive action research project: Drawing on student perspectives of school science to identify discourses of exclusion
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Exclusion in an inclusive action research project: Drawing on student perspectives of school science to identify discourses of exclusion
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
Keyword
Upper secondary school, Gender, Ethnicity, Social constructivism, Discourse analysis
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-2370 (URN)10.1080/09650790701549693 (DOI)
Available from: 2007-05-11 Created: 2007-05-11 Last updated: 2009-05-28Bibliographically approved

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