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Göteborgs universitets publikationer

Knowledge by the Number: A Systematic Research Review on International Comparisons of School Performances

Författare och institution:
Sverker Lindblad (Institutionen för pedagogik och specialpedagogik); Daniel Pettersson (-)
Publicerad i:
American Educational Research Association Conference On Line Program 2016,
Konferensbidrag, refereegranskat
Sammanfattning (abstract):
Carrying out a systematic research review on international comparisons of education by means of international large-scale assessments turned out to matter more of capturing and analyzing arguments and less about collating research results as such. This was partly a consequence of the current heterogeneous organization of ILSA primary research, partly due to the specific way of reasoning that we conceived of as important to understand ILSA research and its reception and translation into different educational context. Two discoveries were of special importance for the translation point we are making here. Firstly, the share of actual primary research doing international comparisons was small. A minor part of the publications was actually presenting studies on ranking and efficiency, while a larger part ILSA research presented analyses of different kinds of educational inequalities and social and cultural biases in different educational systems. These finding were not consistent with the picture of ILSA research in public discourses, where notions of efficiency and ranking of educational systems dominated mass media. Thus, we turned to such public discourses. Here we made the second discovery, which was the identification of a grey-zone where different actors translated ILSA research into seemingly relevant data for policy-making and education management. These translations were outside the research field and the style of reasoning at work there, but referred extensively on ILSA data and were actually gaining legitimacy from this referencing with the support of e.g. the OECD. Our point is not that the grey-zone is a place to avoid. Instead, there is an urgent need to analyze this grey-zone and the communication going on there between different agents having different resources and presenting knowledge claims of different kinds. In addition there is a need to understand ways in the potential making of socially robust knowledge and of pluralistic regimes of expertise (see e.g. Nowotny et al, 2003) and its societal significances. The concern in the review to focus on the ways that arguments are structured to give relevance to school outcomes is, as we discussed, not merely an academic problem of science. The ILSA research is very important in policy initiatives and curriculum change. This makes it necessary to carefully scrutinize ILSA and what it can offer for wise and sensible policy and planning in education. Thus, it was regarded as necessary to conduct the review by analyzing the framing of research problematics that organize conceptualizations and specific practices in the research inquiries on education. An example of this is the ways that PISA research are used in putting forwards international ranking of school performances as evidence of the standard of national education qualities. Another example concerns the way “achievement gaps” are defined by a combination of taxonomic groups and testing results in ILSA research. Our point is not that such statements are invalid or un-true. Our point is that what is conceived of as valid statements about the task and functioning of education are statements framed by a specific style of reasoning at work. It is on one hand important to clarify such framing for possible knowledge claims – some conclusions are not possible. On the other hand, this style of reasoning has the potential to structure thinking about education, e.g. in terms of categorizations of students and schools as well as the tasks for curricula and educational systems. To recognize such knowledge problematic (Popkewitz & Lindblad, 2000) with the distinctions and exclusions at work is of vital concern in the making and use of systematic research reviews. From this point of view, research reviews are important for making apparent what is recognized through the style of reason that is organizing the data about – and solutions for – national education systems. A conceptual review, then, is to allow for public and research reflections of the arguments and not to create authorities based on the number of research publications that support a certain conclusion. To end, a research review is not only a way to summarize and organize knowledge contributions within a field of study. A research reviews is also a way to identify the grey-zone between research and education affairs – for better or worse. This is vital for understanding the translation of educational research in society.
Ämne (baseras på Högskoleverkets indelning av forskningsämnen):
Utbildningsvetenskap ->
Pedagogik ->
Internationell pedagogik
International Comparisons, Large Scale Assessments, Systematic Research Review, Style of Reason
Postens nummer:
Posten skapad:
2016-04-29 18:42

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