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Matematik

Immigrant students’ opportunities to learn mathematics: In(ex)clusion in mathematics education

Publicerad:2018-03-20
Uppdaterad:2018-04-17

Petra Svensson Källbergs forskning handlar om elever med utländsk bakgrund och deras måluppfyllelse i matematik, samt hur denna måluppfyllelse förklaras utifrån bristförklaringsdiskurser.

Författare

Petra Svensson Källberg

Handledare

Doktor Eva Norén, Stockholms universitet Professor Paul Andrews, Stockholms universitet

Opponent

Professor Anna Chronaki, Malmö universitet

Disputerat vid

Stockholms universitet

Disputationsdag

2018-03-09

Titel (eng)

Immigrant students’ opportunities to learn mathematics: In(ex)clusion in mathematics education

Institution

Institutionen för matematikämnets och naturvetenskapsämnenas didaktik.

Immigrant students’ opportunities to learn mathematics: In(ex)clusion in mathematics education

This thesis explores immigrant students’ opportunities to learn mathematics. The research is concerned with issues of social justice and adopts a socio-political approach. Immigrant students are often described as students who do poorly in school because they lack “Swedishness” and have insufficient Swedish language skills. This deficit discourse is used when explaining immigrant students’ failure in mathematics, which this thesis aims to critique. Also, by adopting two theoretical frameworks, one that draws on the work of Skovsmose (1994, 2014) and one on the work of Foucault (2000, 2002), it aims at exploring possible understandings of immigrant students’ opportunities to learn mathematics.

The research questions are addressed in a preamble and four articles. They address immigrant students’ perceptions of their opportunities to learn mathematics and how these perceptions come into existence, and the different contributions of using the theoretical frameworks.

Data emanates from interviews, with immigrant students aged 15 to 16 years old and policy texts regarding schooling for newly arrived. Skovsmose’s notion of foreground is used when analysing immigrant students’ perceptions of their opportunities to learn mathematics. A Foucauldian perspective is used for exploring immigrant students’ identity formations as mathematical learners in a context of a forced school transition. The notions of fabrication and abjection (Popkewitz, 2012, 2013) are used as analytical tools when exploring how the newly arrived student as a mathematical learner is fabricated in policy texts.

The findings show how conditions concerning future plans, otherness, Swedishness, perceiving their parents as deficit in relation to Swedish parents, segregation, feelings of exclusion and rowdy mathematics classrooms constitute their foregrounds, and affect their perceptions of their opportunities to learn mathematics. It was also shown how students’ identity formations as learners of mathematics are dynamic and enabled by discourse. For example, discourses operating in two different school contexts enabled the transitioning students to form identities as un-engaged and respectively engaged mathematics students. It was shown how students’ perceptions were influenced by public discourses, and thus how categorisations of them as immigrant students with deficiencies had looped into their lives. By exploring fabrication of the newly arrived student as a mathematical learner and the process of abjection information on how students may be ordered in relation to what degree they have come to master for example the Swedish language were provided. This may generate feelings of in(ex)clusion, which refers to the inseparability of inclusion and exclusion: any move to include brings with it potential exclusions.

A conclusion is that to be able to understand immigrant students’ opportunities to learn mathematics and explain achievement in mathematics, deficiency explanations are not sufficient. Instead, it is of importance to try to understand the students’ perspectives and explore the role of discourse and power since it allows for explanations that ground students’ opportunities to learn mathematics in the socio-political conditions in which they emerge. This enables for learning more about what constitutes immigrant students’ perceptions and how they come into existence and thus allows for addressing processes of in(ex)clusion and critique deficiency explanations.

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