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Disciplined by tests
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Science and Mathematics Education. (UFM)
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Science and Mathematics Education. (UmSER)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6413-6538
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Science and Mathematics Education. (UFM)
2015 (English)In: Nordisk matematikkdidaktikk, ISSN 1104-2176, Vol. 20, no 1, 55-75 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article reports on a Swedish research project on the reintroduction of national tests in mathematics for nine- to ten-year-old pupils. Data were collected over a period of three years (2010-2012) by video recording test situations in different classrooms and by conducting video-stimulated recall interviews with children. The aim is to explore and analyse the testing situation and how it creates different positions for children. We conclude that discourses of testing, caring and competition, sometimes strengthening and sometimes shadowing each other and thereby, produce knowledge in children about success and failure in mathematics, positioning children as ‘winners’ or ‘losers’. The tests are interpreted as a technology – a form of disciplinary power that functions at the level of the body (Foucault, 1980).

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Göteborg: Nationellt centrum för matematikutbildning (NCM), 2015. Vol. 20, no 1, 55-75 p.
Keyword [en]
ethnographic study, children's perspective, grade three, mathematics, national tests, success, failure
National Category
Didactics Other Mathematics
Research subject
didactics of mathematics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-95993OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-95993DiVA: diva2:762167
Projects
Vad gör testandet med eleven? En studie kring nationella prov i matematik
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2008-32226-60932-55
Available from: 2014-11-10 Created: 2014-11-10 Last updated: 2017-06-08Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Prövningen av en skola för alla: nationella provet i matematik i det tredje skolåret
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Prövningen av en skola för alla: nationella provet i matematik i det tredje skolåret
2015 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[en]
Is school for everyone? : the national test in mathematics at Grade three in Sweden
Abstract [en]

This thesis presents the contribution to research that my doctoral education led to. My starting point was a large scale qualitative research project (here after called the VR-project) which reviewed the implementation of national tests in the third grade on the subject of mathematics. The VR-project investigated how the test affected the pupils with a special focus on pupils in need of special support. An urge to look further into issues concerning the support, the pupil in need and the test was revealed in he initial VR-project. These issues therefore constitutes the problem area of this thesis. The VR-project studied a total of 22 classrooms in two different municipalities' during 2010- 2012. The methodology used for this project was inspired by ethnography and discourse analysis. The raw data consisted of test instructions, video observations of the actual test subjects, interviews from teachers and pupils about the test, the support that was given throughout the testing as well as the observations and interviews of the pupils requiring special assistance. Activated discourses and positions of the participants were demarcated. The results revealed that a traditional testing discourse, a caring discourse and a competitive discourse are activated during the tests. The testing discourse is stable and traditional. Much of what was shown and said in classrooms, routines and rules regarding the test were repeated in all the schools and in all the classrooms. The discourse on support is affected by ambiguity, which is revealed especially when issues of pupils’ equity is put against the tests equality. This is connected to the teachers restricted agency to give support due to the teacher position as a test taker. The positions in need that are available to students are not the same in pupils, teachers and steering documents. The situation is especially troublesome for pupils that do not manage Swedish good enough to take the test and for pupils in need of special support. Some of the conclusions from this thesis is that the national test format: Disciplines not only the pupil, but also the teacher, the classroom and the school at large. Results indicate that the test:

Activates a focus on achievementLeads attention away from learning Activates issues of accountability Influences pupils and teachers with stakes involved

Besides evaluating knowledge, the test disciplines not only the pupil, but also the teacher, the classroom and the school at large. Discussing the national test as an arena for equity might be a way towards attaining equality in education for all pupils.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå Universitet, 2015. 114 p.
Series
Doktorsavhandlingar i pedagogiskt arbete, ISSN 1650-8858 ; 63
Keyword
National test, Mathematics, Third grade, Special needs, Special support, Student in need of support, Discourse, Pupil, Teacher, nationella prov, matematik, test, i behov av stöd, tredje skolåret, stöd
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
educational work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-109174 (URN)9789176013144 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-10-16, Naturvetarhuset, N320, Umeå, 10:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Projects
Nationella prov i matematik – vad gör testandet med eleverna?
Available from: 2015-09-25 Created: 2015-09-21 Last updated: 2015-09-24Bibliographically approved

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