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The contemporary emphasis on diagnoses in education – a critical perspective
University of Borås, Faculty of Librarianship, Information, Education and IT. (RCIW)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1681-5418
University of Borås, Faculty of Librarianship, Information, Education and IT. (RCIW)
2016 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Other academic)
Sustainable development
The publication has "Sustainable Development" as a keyword
Abstract [en]

The research group RCIW is regularly involved in projects initiated and conducted by municipalities. A couple of these projects have enabled the understanding of what happens in local, educational practices when measures are taken to improve the conditions for students diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a diagnosis getting high contemporary emphasis. The results from the municipal projects are supportive and encouraging. However, also some more worrying aspects of these have emerged, and found vital to examine. These critical aspects make up the focus for the planned presentation.

 

Aim and research questions

The presentation aims at shedding critical light on problematic elements of the contemporary attention to ASD diagnoses, from now on referred to as ‘the public ASD discourse’. It should be clarified that the mentioning of the current attention to ASD as a discourse does not mean a rejection of the diagnosis per se, only that a strengthened emphasis (as it seems) needs a critical eye.

 

The research questions are:

1)         What expressions are there for a public ASD discourse within local, educational practices?

2)         What nourishes the discourse?

3)         How do the consequences related to the discourse, in turn, relate to social (un-) sustainability?

 

The empirical material produced within the two projects is rich and consists of focus group interviews (one set of interviews with five teacher teams in municipality A, two sets of interviews with five teacher teams in municipality B and two sets of interviews with five student health teams in municipality B), photo elicitation interviews with students diagnosed with ASD (six in municipality A and five in municipality B) remedial action plans (24 from municipality A) and a variety of field notes from formal and informal meetings.

 

The theoretical frames guiding the analysis are collected both from the practice theorists Davide Nicolini and Stephen Kemmis, and from the sociologist of education Basil Bernstein. Kemmis’ theory of practice architecture makes it possible to capture three arrangements significant of a transformation process (see Kemmis et al. 2014), as in this case the municipal projects. The first type, cultural-discursive arrangements, are expressed in sayings and takes an interest in how the involved participants understand the ongoing transformation process. The second, economic-material arrangements, are expressed in doings and refers to what is being done within the projects. Finally, socio-political arrangements are expressed in relatings, and is examined in how the involved actors and students relate to each other, but also how they relate to artefacts such as the new legislation for the student group of concern. The presentation relies on an understanding of practice architectures as dynamic, where arrangements overlap and sometimes are mutually dependent.

 

Nicolini supplies the concepts of zooming-in and zooming-out of a practice (see Nicolini, 2012). A zooming-in corresponds to the first research question, in which the presentation will take its start. The zooming-in here refers to the local practices and their expressions of the ASD diagnosis and its importance. Next, the presentation will move to a zooming-out in which it is examined from where the public ASD discourse gets its nutrition (second research question).

Here, Bernstein’s (2000) conceptual set of different recontextualisation fields complements the zooming-out stage; the set will be used to refine and capture the variety of actors supporting the discourse. Included in this group of actors are policy documents, teacher union journals and other actors loosely or strongly involved in education. As a third and final step, a repeated zooming back will take place and in connection a reasoning on consequences for students in the local (and national) practices. Here, the unsustainable aspects of the diagnosis discourse will be discussed (research question 3).

 

To give two examples of the findings, first, the results how that the discourse evokes a plethora of subcategories for the different varieties of autism and the different students. This vocabulary refers to the category of sayings (representative of cultural-discursive arrangements), in turn connected to a change in how the actors look upon students (socio-political arrangements). Second, the results show that several modifications of teaching activities are made (an expression of doings and representing economic-material arrangements) causing a potential lock-in effect for the students. These matters unfortunately run counter to the project management’s initial ambition of less segregation and increased academic success for the students. Finally, the presentation will provide insights in how some expressions and arrangements also run counter to paragraph 4.5 in the sustainable development goals.

 

By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations.

 

 

 

References

Bernstein, B. (2000). Pedagogy, symbolic control and identity: theory, research, critique. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

 

Kemmis, S., Wilkinson, J., Edwards-Groves, C., Hardy, I., Grootenboer, P. & Bristol, L. (2014). Changing Practices, Changing Education. Singapore: Springer Verlag.

Nicolini, D. (2012). Practice theory, work, and organization: an introduction. 1. ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

 

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016.
Keyword [en]
diagnoses, discourse, education, social sustainability
National Category
Pedagogical Work
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hb:diva-11487OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hb-11487DiVA: diva2:1057580
Conference
Research on Sustainability, Borås, December 1, 2016
Available from: 2016-12-19 Created: 2016-12-19 Last updated: 2016-12-20Bibliographically approved

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