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Staying in the comfort zones: Low expectations in vocational education and training mathematics teaching in Sweden and Finland
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of applied educational science.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of applied educational science.ORCID iD: 00-0003-3910-0319
Helsinki University.
2016 (English)In: European Educational Research Journal (online), ISSN 1474-9041, E-ISSN 1474-9041Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

Vocational education has a historical legacy of being low-status and aimed at producing skilled workers. Students with low marks in comprehensive school are still often guided to the vocational educational track. In this article we examine how mathematics teaching in a vocational educational context is framed (henceforth VET). Therefore, our aim with this article is to explore how teacher responses come into play in school mathematics classes, and the teacher–student interactions within those practices. The empirical material is based on educational ethnographic research, i.e. classroom observations and interviews, conducted in three upper secondary institutions, two in Sweden and one in Finland. The results indicate that both teachers and students seem to remain in what might be called their ‘comfort zones’, i.e. that pedagogic practices tend to strengthen the idea of a vocational learner as being practically oriented; using their hands instead of their heads and in need of care and surveillance. The analysis focuses on mathematics teaching rather than on the content and was chosen because it is associated with general qualifications and the notion of lifelong learning. In this respect it exemplifies the growing tension in VET between workplace and academic knowledge.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Mathematics education, vocational education, teacher response, educational sociology
National Category
Pedagogical Work
Research subject
educational work
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-126084DOI: 10.1177/1474904116669154OAI: diva2:975017
Swedish Research Council
Available from: 2016-09-28 Created: 2016-09-28 Last updated: 2016-09-28

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Hjelmér, Carina
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