Ethical competence as displayed in the Swedish National Test 2013
The National Test given 2013 to Swedish pupils in the compulsory school, grades 6 and 9, had one part where the pupils were tested regarding their knowledge of ethics. What kind of ethical competence was then asked for?
This is the crucial question for this study. The core material that has been studied and critically analyzed is the actual tasks of the test, their construction, the knowledge they ask for, as well as the guiding instructions to teachers regarding how these tasks were to be evaluated.
To give a background to the construction of this test of ethical competence also the process of construction has been studied to some extent, with the main question being what kind of guiding instructions those who were responsible for the construction of the tasks were given. Furthermore, the relationship between the tasks of the national test and the syllabus for the school subject Religion will be clarified clarified, this as the explicit ethics education of the Swedish curriculum is found in that school subject. The relation between the tasks of the test and the overall goals in the general parts of the curriculum will also be enlightened when it comes to how ethical competence is expressed.
Methodologically the study consists mainly in content analysis of texts. Interviews with those responsible for the constructions of the test 2013 complement the analyses of the written material. From a theoretical point of view a definition of ethics from the work of Göran Bexell (1997) is used focusing on three main questions, crucial in ethics. In response to one of these questions a pre-study has demonstrated that aspects of global responsibility seems to be fairly absent in the ethical competence that was tested. Questions that then can be posed are: Is ethical competence then mostly understood to be about individual matters, a form of individualistic ethics? How does this then match the goals in syllabus and curriculum?
As the task of the school, and not least for a compulsory school system, to convey values to the pupils can be said to be at the same time both a crucial and a sensitive one, a critical analysis of what kind of ethical competence Swedish pupils are supposed to demonstrate in national tests can be argued to be a research task of high relevance.
Ethics education; National test; Compulsory school; Ethical competence; Moral formation