Social Class in Science Class

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Publication Doctoral Thesis
Title Social Class in Science Class
Author(s) Jobér, Anna
Date 2012
English abstract
One of the most important aims of schooling is to give all children an equal education. Despite this, social differences continue to be reproduced in school. Earlier studies show that there is a relation-ship between low socioeconomic background of students and low achievement in science education, thus excluding many students from highly-valued education and positions in society. Building upon established sociological frameworks – particularly those pro-vided by foremost Bourdieu and Bernstein - the overall aim of this thesis was to contribute to a more complex and multi-faceted de-scription and analysis of inequalities in education, focusing on so-cial class in the science classroom. Inspired by an ethnographic ap-proach, the data was produced through observations, field notes, interviews, and a questionnaire in a Swedish compulsory school. The students, aged fourteen and fifteen, were followed during a five week unit on physics (mechanics). Firstly, the descriptions and analyses of the school, the teacher, the student and the science classroom revealed that the knowledge threshold in the classroom has been lowered. This had been done in hidden negotiations (often with good intentions) between the students, the teacher, the sociohistorical legacy of science educa-tion, and a social discourse. It created a knowledge threshold, a lowest common denominator - which was altered not only for stu-dents from lower classes but for all the students in the classroom. Secondly, the descriptions and analyses of the classroom communi-cation showed that being able to translate, interpret and adapt to new or changed ways of talking increased the possibilities of un-derstanding what ways of talking and acting that were valid or not. What also was also shown was that ways of talking were created and influenced in an intricate interplay between the practices in the classroom, the teacher, and the students often in hidden negotiations. Together they constructed what ways of talking were valued and how you could act and talk in the science dialogues. In strongly controlled dialogues, more students could be heard and evaluated. However, it became a type of communication based on the lowest common denominator that in the long term might exclude all students and narrow their room to manoeuvre. Thirdly, laboratory work lessons could be lessons filled with curiosity, freedom and exciting challenges. However another picture emerged in this very common way to work in the classroom. For example, the regulative discourse totally overrode the instructional discourse and became decisive in this practical science activity. In addition, there were at least two parallel codes that needed to be translated and adapted to in the classroom. Laboratory work in this classroom was a social process that needed and was expected to be performed in groups. However, this became problematic since the grades were awarded to individuals and in addition, the reactions and the effects of a hierarchical class-marking group process became decisive. The groups became to some extent safe havens for the students, on the other hand, undermined their chances in the classroom. Labor-atory work left the students and the teacher blaming themselves even though the outcome was a result of the complex interplay be-tween practices, the science field doxa, the curriculum, social class, school premises and educational codes. Science learning and teaching in this classroom at its most basic was a social process and could not be correlated to, for example, inborn facilities per se nor to certain agents in the field. Social class was manifested in the science class, for example in the dialogues or in the laboratory work always performed in groups. However so-cial class must be understood as collective processes and in rela-tionship with, for example, the value that science is ascribed. It must be understood from the possibilities, limitations and the ex-pectations the students and teacher have and how these are used. Through descriptions and analyses of social class in the science class, this thesis revealed that science classroom activities and prac-tices and in turn room to manoeuvre and possibilities, are collec-tive processes.
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Series/Issue Malmö studies in educational sciences;66
Studies in Science and technology education;59
ISSN 1651-4513
ISBN 978-91-86295-31-8
Pages 235
Language eng (iso)
Subject(s) social class
science classroom
laboratory work
group work
hidden negotiations
colliding codes
social discourse
Humanities/Social Sciences
Research Subject Categories::SOCIAL SCIENCES
Note Chinese abstract:概述学校教学最重要目的之一是赋予每个孩子同等的教育. 尽管如此, 学校再创造了社会差异. 先前的研究表明,学生的低下社会经济情况背景与自然学科成绩低下有一定联系. 这样, 不少学生在未来就被排斥在社会高端学科的教育和职业之外. 本篇论文在Bourdieu和Bernstein的理论基础上, 以自然学科课堂的社会阶级为中心, 旨在对小 学生所受的教育存在不等现象提供更多方位描述和更深层的分析. 在人种民族学的启发下, 本论文的数据取自瑞典义务小学八年级物理教室里的观察, 记录, 采访和统计调查. 1. 对教室里现象的描述和分析揭示了知识难度的下降. 这一现象的发生通常是因为自然学科的教学所具有的社会历史传统因素, 学生, 老师和教室里的谈话社交之间有无形的默契, 或被称为隐蔽的磋商, (出发点往往是善良的愿望),教室里形成了对所有学生都不利的知识难度的分档. 2. 对教室里交流的描述和分析显示, 具有对新的交流方式意会和适应能力强的学生更能理解何种课堂言行才是有效或无效的. 教室里的各方语言交流的模式的产生和发展是学生, 老师和实践操作共同作用的结果. 也就是说, 这三者一起决定了自然学科教室里有关学科内容的科学性的交流的言行举止. 在由老师掌控的对话交流中, 更多的学生可以听懂内容并进行评估. 在这种交流中老师通常选用难度较低的知识水准, 长此以往, 该种交流有把学生排除在外的危险可能, 和将来局限他们灵活操纵交流的可能. 3. 实验作业本应充满好奇, 自由, 兴奋的挑战, 但教室里却呈现了完全不同的另一画面. 形式, 设计和如何操作实验的常规介绍, 取代应有的学科内容, 概念和知识, 成了决定作业成功的关键. 此外, 在实验作业教室里的学生要意会并适应至少两种平行的密码. 学生的实验工作是社会交际过程, 需要并被要求分组进行. 但这里有问题. 由于成绩评分是针对个人的, 而且, 社会阶层标志过程(hierarchical class-marking process)的反应和影响起了决定作用. 课堂上的小组在某种意义上成了学生的保护区, 这种保护破坏了学生的发展机会. 最后, 学生们和老师把作业差错归咎于自己或个人, 而并不意识到, 在实验课上的最终结果, 是自然学科教室里实际操作, 科学领域的信念关系, 课程, 社会阶层, 学校环境和教育密码等诸多密码复杂地相互作用的结果. 自然学科的教学, 是一个社会交际过程, 成功与否与是与身俱来的人的天赋无关. 教学过程中的语言交流和通常以小组形式进行的实验活动呈现出社会阶层区分. 这种课堂里的社会阶层区分会受到集体交际过程的影响, 学生之间关系的影响, 还有老师教学的影响. 也被该教室里师生间互给互取的机会, 局限和期望所决定. 透过对自然学科课堂上的阶级现象的描述和分析, 本文揭示了个体学生对可被灵活操纵调节的交流空间, 对学科知识, 和对权力自由的可能获得的机会是存在于一个集体交际过程中的, 需从小组全方位角度来理解. 关键词: 社会阶层, 自然学科教室, 学生, 实验操作, 小组活动, 对话, Bourdieu, Bernstein, 隐蔽的磋商, 碰撞的密码, 社会性的谈话交流, 过程.
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