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The pupils’ backstage pedagogy. Compulsory school pupils’ informal social strategies when dealing with formal individual writing assignments for assessment

Uppdaterad:22 februari

Charlotta Rönn har i sin avhandling kartlagt om, när, och hur elever använder sociala strategier när de tar sig an individuella skriftliga uppgifter som skall lämnas in till lärarna för bedömning.


Charlotta Rönn


Professor Peter Erlandson, Linnéuniversitetet Corrado Matta, Linnéuniversitetet


Professor Marianne Dovemark, Göteborgs universitet

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Abstract in English

Over the last decades, formal schooling has changed towards an enhanced focus on the individual pupil’s achievements. This comprises formative assessment such as visualizing pupils’ learning processes, as well as summative assessment in terms of increased number and importance of National tests. However, little is known, from a pupils’ perspective, about how pupils together with classmates relate to the extensive focus on assessment of the individual’s achievements in formal education; what do today’s pupils, who have grown up with digital technology and social media, say and do out of the teachers’ supervision when dealing with individual assignments? In line with ethnographic educational research, this thesis explores and analyses how educational structures are imposed upon subordinate groups. This thesis gives an account of, from a pupils’ perspective, the pupils’ backstage pedagogy regarding formal schoolwork inside and outside school.The applied analytical tool is Goffman’s (1990) theater metaphor of social life; in this study, pupils’ interactions with peers out of the teachers’ supervision when doing schoolwork are regarded as carried out backstage, preparing an intended impression of their abilities and know-how to present to the assessing teacher. Based on observations, aninnovative and discreet staging of audio-visual recordings, and semi-structured interviewswith the pupils in one class at a Swedish municipal lower secondary school where approximately 50 % of the pupils had a foreign background, the results show that pupils applied a backstage pedagogy. Outside the teachers’ supervision and awareness, they informally interacted with classmates and used social strategies when dealing with formal individual assignments. The pupils’ regard for grades was the linch pin of their activities; some pupils a) swapped computers with peers and wrote original texts for classmates, b)copied peers’ assignments, c) logged into classmates’ Google classroom accounts and wrote original texts for peers, and d) shared leaked National tests on the class’s Snapchat group. These actions led to dilemmas in the teachers’ assessing and grading of individua lpupils as well as in implementing fair, impartial grading. In looking forward, the thesis discusses the phenomenon and impact of backstage spaces comprising parents, siblings, Artificial Intelligence and ChatGPT to improve grades. 

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