Doing schoolwork: task premisses and joint activity in the comprehensive classroom
1990 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
This study is about teaching and learning as institutionalized phenomena. In particular interest is focused on two issues; firstly, the concrete premisses for learning and communication in what in Swedish school rhetoric is referred to as "student-active" and co-operative working forms, and, secondly, what according to the actors qualifies as work and productive learning in such contexts. The rationale for focussing on groupwork is the wide spread assumption in curricular documents as well as in school ideology about the appropriateness of this approach to teaching and learning for dealing with some of the difficulties that teachers face in the comprehensive classroom, e. g. large differences in motivation and academic ability. Group work is also an essential ingredient in a child-centered ideology in which learning is seen as the result of direct studentinvolvement in the definition and implementation of learning goals.
Theoretically, the study has its basis within an interactionist interpretive tradition, viewing school as a socially constructed and negotiated world. The methodological approach is inspired by research made within anthropology and ethnography. Data is drawn from fieldwork during one school year in two classes in grade 7 at the secondary level of the Swedish comprehensive school. The main sources of the data areobservations and field notes from lessons, breaks and outdoor activities and from conversations with the students, tape-recordings of group work and interviews with students. Group work in Science, Swedish and Social Science was used as case studies to illustrate significant features of schoolwork in the classroom.
The study shows that success in schoolwork is a question of knowing and adhering to implicit educational "ground rules". Even "student-active" working forms and fairly "open" tasks presuppose specific interpretations by the students. Tasks have to be transformed in such a way that they fit the time constraints and the constraints with respect to what qualifies as knowledge in the particular context of school. This means that the possibilities of letting students who vary in their social background and academic orientation share the conversational floor and assume responsibility for the work diminish. It is also shown that the assumption of the superiority of inductive forms of learning appears highty questionable if one looks at what students do in such settings. Students were generally not aware of the wider- theoretical- contexts for a particular task since endpoints of activities were kept implicit in accordance with an inductive learning philosophy. Often there was no shared understanding of the premisses for work among teachers and students, and all students were not involved in the specific kind of work that was intended. Thus, the students had difficulties in identifying thecommunicative contexts in which the tasks were to be interpreted and the concrete activity often replaced genuine learning and understanding.
The results are discussed in relation to an inductive, child-centered ideology of teaching and learning. It is maintained that the implicitness in teaching obscures learning goals. Instead, premisses should be made explicit and students should be more actively guided into participating in learning activities.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköpings universitet , 1990. , 159 p.
Linköping Studies in Arts and Science, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 55
child-centered ideology, comprehensive school, educational ground rules, group work, student activity, student perspectives, task premisses
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-30703Local ID: 16313ISBN: 91-7870-687-4OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-30703DiVA: diva2:251526
1990-07-01, Sal C2, Hus C, Universitetsområdet Valla, Linköping, 00:00