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Individual Education Plans: sustaining or challenging power relations?
University West, Department of Social and Behavioural Studies, Division for Educational Science and Languages. (Barn- och ungdomsvetenskapliga forskningsmiljön)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0127-0999
University West, Department of Social and Behavioural Studies, Division for Educational Science and Languages. (Barn- och ungdomsvetenskapliga forskningsmiljön)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5163-7939
2012 (English)In: ECER EUROPEAN EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH ASSOCIATION: The Need for Educational Research to Champion Freedom, Education and Development for All, 2012Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This study is based on an analysis of a sample of so called Individual Education Plans (IEP) from 233 Swedish students in grade five. It addresses three questions:

·         What forms of knowledge and modes of learning are focuses in the EIP:s?

·         How can the information in the IEP:s be interpreted in terms of its potential contribution to students’ learning and control over their learning?

·         Does the potential contribution of the IEP:s to students’ learning and agency vary between schools according to the parents’ education, the proportion of students with foreign background, the proportion of students that passed the national assessment and to whether the IEP is digitalized.

The framework involves sociological theories (e.g. Bourdieu and Bernstein), as well as educational theories about assessment and learning. The results will also be discussed in regard to the wider issue of performativity in a European context (e.g. Ball, 2003).

Formally the IEP serves two purposes in the Swedish school system – to summarize the students’ achievements in regard to objectives and standards for each subject in order to inform the students and their parents, and to guide future learning. Unlike in most countries, the IEP:s are mandatory for all students in the Swedish compulsory school system – not only students with special educational needs.

The IEP should be elaborated and revised in a parent-teacher conference twice a year, but should, according to policy, be used by the students and the teachers throughout the school year in planning, guiding and evaluating learning. Thus, the idea of IEP is well in line with the notion ofassessment for learning, which stress that assessments in regard to pre-specified criteria that mirror learning objectives are powerful in enhancing students’ achievements, self-efficacy and motivation.

There is much empirical evidence that assessment for learning indeed have these effects, and moreover that students from educationally and economically less privileged families, second-language learners and students with weak school results tend to benefit the most (William, 2010; Hattie & Timperley, 2007). However, for assessments to have these effects, they must meet certain criteria, e.g. for feedback to be clearly related to the target, detailed and concrete, directed at the process and supportive (Shute, 2007). Conversely, assessment/feedback that focuses on students’ personality, is judgmental or compares students to one another, are likely to debilitate students’ motivation, self-efficacy and future achievements (Harlen & Deakin Crick, 2002).

Morover, IEP can, through its gentle and student-centered appearance also reinforce the control function of the school at the expense of the students’ power and control, and particularly so for students whose cultural and social background have made t them less prepared to interpret the school’s “hidden curriculum” (Bunar, 2001; Dovemark, 2004).

Thus, the consequences of the use of IEP-practice is contingent, since in theory it seems to hold the potential to empower students (in general and students with weak cultural capital in particular) as well as the opposite – to disempower them. 

Method

The study includes 233 individual development plans from students in their fifth grade (aged 11-12), in five municipalities and thirty one schools in western Sweden. The plans were obtained by a systematic sampling at each school, where alphabetical lists from all classes in the relevant grade in each school were sequenced and every fifth name on the list was drawn. The written assessments and the formative comments will be analyzed and coded in regard to forms of knowledge and modes of learning; potential effects on learning and control over learning. Bi-variate analyses will then be carried out on the material in regard to school variables related to the parents’ education, the proportion of students with foreign background, the proportion of students that passed the national assessment and to whether the IEP is digitalized.

Expected Outcomes

Preliminary analyses, in line with previous studies, suggest that the feedback and feedforward provided in the IEP often include statements about students behavior and personal qualities, focus mostly on Swedish, mathematics and English, and tend to focus on atomistic knowledge rather than higher order thinking (Andreasson, 2007). The information is mostly too scarce and vague to be useful as guidance for students in planning future learning. Thus, generally the IEP:s do not seem to meet the criteria for assessments that increase students control over their learning or boost their results and self-efficacy. However, as previous studies too have shown, there is a variation between schools. Our most significant observation is that schools with digital IEP:s tend to provide richer and more curriculum aligned feedback than other schools. We have not yet systematically explored the variation in the content of the IEP:s in regard to the schcools’ student population or results. Such patterns do not seem to stand out, however.

References

Andreasson, I. (2007). Elevplanen som text: om identitet, genus, makt och styrning i skolans elevdokumentation. Göteborg: Acta Universitas Gothoburgensis. Ball, S.J. (2003). The teachers’ soul and the terrors of performativity. Journal of Education Policy, 18 (2), 215-228. Bunar, N. (2001). Skolan mitt i förorten: fyra studier om skola, segregation, integration och multikulturalism. Diss. Växjö : Univ., 2001. Eslöv. Dovemark (2004). Ansvar – flexibilitet – valfrihet: en etnografisk studie om en skola I förändring. Göteborg: Acta. Harlen W, Deakin Crick R (2002) A systematic review of the impact of summative assessment and tests on students' motivation for learning. In: Research Evidence in Education Library. London: EPPI-Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London. Hattie, J. & Timpeley, H. (2007). The power of feedback. Review of Educational Research, 77, s. 81-112. Shute, V.J. (2008). Focus on Formative Feedback. Review of Educational Research. Vol. 78, No. 1, (s.153–189). William, D. (2010). An Integrative Summary of the Research Literature and Implications for a New Theory of Formative Assessment. I Andrade, H.L. & Cizek, G.J. (red.) Handbook of formative assessment. New York: Routledge.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012.
Keyword [en]
individual education plans, formative assessment, subjectification, learner identity
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
SOCIAL SCIENCE, Educational science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hv:diva-4964OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hv-4964DiVA: diva2:581186
Conference
ECER, Cadiz Sep 2012
Available from: 2012-12-28 Created: 2012-12-28 Last updated: 2015-03-17Bibliographically approved

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