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Can schoolcheating ever be regarded as a responsible behavior?
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Health, Social Work and Behavioural Sciences, School of Education, Psychology and Sport Science.
2012 (English)In: ECER 2012, The Need for Educational Research to Champion Freedom, Education and Development for All: Network: 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education, 2012Conference paper, (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Background

European public education is increasingly governed through management by objectives and results. This development also changes the conditions for different concrete practices in everyday school activities. With fixed criteria for both skill levels of individual students, as well as for the effectiveness of individual school units, negotiations arises on how the expected results are allowed to be met. Students in difficulties of passing the fixed limit for acceptable grades become hard currency in the struggle for schools to achieve their set goals in a competitive education market. From such a meritocratic grounded approach cheating at tests in schools can be regarded as obstructive for schools official assignments of fairly allocation of future life chances. Schoolcheating also risks undermining the social capital that is the ultimate target of values education. Though schoolcheating is formally a violation of rules at the larger Swedish upper secondary school where my studies took place approximately 80% of the students in the academic prepatory social science program admit of schoolcheating during their secondary education. The overall motive for schoolcheating was to achieve desired grades. One category of students experience difficulties in achieving the centrally set criteria for passing the lowest grades. These students cheat to survive in secondary school. (Fonseca 2006).

Through statistical factor analysis of secondary school pupils' attitudes to the seriousness of schoolcheating and other violations of norms and rules it was found that school cheating can be understood as a socially conventional dilemma. (Nucci 2001) Schoolcheating is thus considered neither as universal right / wrong, or as a free private choice, but as a subject of norm negotiations in a defined culture.

The special interest of this paper is to examine the paradox that both schoolmates and teachers shows a significant tolerance for survivors rulebreaking acts of school cheating. In normresearch, within Sociology of Law, human behavior is regarded not primarily as governed by rules, but by norms (Hydén, 2002). Norms can be understood as socially reproduced imperatives of action, perceived as expectations by the individual (Baier and Svensson, 2009) and thus fall within what Nucci (2001) calls the social conventional domain.

 

Research Question

The aim of this study is (i) to examine the norms of survivors school cheating as negotiated in discussions between students, respectively their teachers and (ii) explain how the goal and result-oriented policy terms can be understood as conditional for these norm formation processes.

 

Method and methodology

Guided by the critical theoretical framework in Hydéns (2002) normanalytical approach, as in Faircloughs (2001) critical discourse analysis and Jacksons et al (1968) "The Hidden Curriculum", the analysis initially concerns identifying and interpreting the norms / discourses in students, and teachers' discussions of survivors school cheating. In a second analytic step the identified norms and discourses are related to the structural conditions of goal-and result-oriented policies. The study examines negotiations of norms according survivors school cheating among students in anonymous web-based focus groups, and among teachers at regular team meetings.

A norm consists analytically of an individual's (i) willingness to - , (ii) the valuation of - (iii) structural conditioned opportunities to act in a certain way (Hyden, 2002). These norm elements are used as analytical tools in the examination of normnegotiations: “Norms' leave an extensive trail of communication among actors that we can study." (Finnemore and Sikkink, 1998, aa, p. 892).

 

Expected Outcomes

The student category of survivors is perceived to have difficulties of obtaining the requirements for passing approved grades. Both schoolmates and teachers significant tolerance for survivors schoolcheating is to some degree legitimized in a discourse of mercy with survivors exposed school situation, but to a far greater extent in a discourse of expectations of an effective fulfillment of performance goals for all school operators. Teachers in the survey also feel that management partly considers their professionalism by the achievement level of their students, (in Sweden teachers themselves grade their students).

In a goal-and results-driven school with fixed lower limits for approved grades the school results of survivors become particularly important to both the survivor himself, to the survivors’ teachers, but also to the individual competitive school unit, who are all first and foremost expected to meet their respective stated performance targets. The results of this paper show that the discursive practice of survivors schoolcheating is conditioned by the goal-and results-oriented social practice which it is embedded in. Explicit prohibitions of cheating are thereby outcompeted by negotiated norms that implicitly encourage cheating / tolerance for students test cheating if it is considered necessary for fulfilling stipulated goals.

 

References

Baier, M. och Svensson, M. (2009): Om normer. Malmö (S): Liber.

Englund, T. och Quennerstedt, A. (2006): Vadå likvärdighet? In: Vetenskapsrådet

(2006): Resultatdialog 2006 - forskning inom utbildningsvetenskap, p.51-56.

Vetenskapsrådets rapportserie 15:2006.

Finnemore, M. och Sikkink, K. (1998): International Norm Dynamics and Political

Change. International Organization, 1998 (4), p. 887-917.

Fonseca, L. (2006): Gymnasieelevers uppfattningar om eget skolfusk. Växjö (S):

Institutionen för pedagogik, Växjö Universitet.

Fairclough, N. (2001): A dialectical-relational approach to critical discourse analysis in

social research. I Wodak, R. & Meyer, M. (red.), (2001): Methods of Critical

Discourse Analysis, p.162-186. London: SAGE Publications.

Hydén, H. (2002): Normvetenskap. Lund (S): Sociologiska institutionen.

Jackson, P. W. (1968/1990): Life in classrooms. New York: Teachers College Press.

Nucci, L. P. (2001): Education in the Moral Domain. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012.
Keyword [en]
School, cheating, norms, management by objectives and results, critical theory
National Category
Pedagogy
Research subject
Pedagogics and Educational Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-24621OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-24621DiVA: diva2:608567
Conference
European Conference on Educational Research (ECER), Cadiz, sep. 18-20 2012
Available from: 2013-02-28 Created: 2013-02-28 Last updated: 2014-12-09Bibliographically approved

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