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Chemistry in an Epistemological Community Box!: Discursive Exclusions and Inclusions in Swedish National Assessments in Chemistry.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Centre for Gender Research.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Centre for Gender Research.
2016 (English)In: Cultural Studies of Science Education, ISSN 1871-1502, E-ISSN 1871-1510Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

This study examined the Swedish national tests in chemistry for implicit andexplicit values. The chemistry subject is understudied compared to biology and physics andstudents view chemistry as their least interesting science subject. The Swedish nationalscience assessments aim to support equitable and fair evaluation of students, to concretizethe goals in the chemistry syllabus and to increase student achievement. Discourse andmultimodal analyses, based on feminist and critical didactic theories, were used to examinethe test’s norms and values. The results revealed that the chemistry discourse presented inthe tests showed a traditional view of science from the topics discussed (for example, oiland metal), in the way women, men and youth are portrayed, and how their scienceinterests are highlighted or neglected. An elitist view of science emerges from the test, withdistinct gender and age biases. Students could interpret these biases as a message that only‘‘the right type’’ of person may come into the chemistry epistemological community, thatis, into this special sociocultural group that harbours a common view about this knowledge.This perspective may have an impact on students’ achievement and thereby prevent supportfor an equitable and fair evaluation. Understanding the underlying evaluative meaningsthat come with science teaching is a question of democracy since it may affectstudents’ feelings of inclusion or exclusion. The norms and values harboured in the testswill also affect teaching since the teachers are given examples of how the goals in thesyllabus can be concretized.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Dordrecht: Springer, 2016.
Keyword [en]
Chemistry national tests, Discourse analysis, Norms and values, Gender stereotypes, Chemistry epistemological community
National Category
Didactics Other Natural Sciences Gender Studies
Research subject
Curriculum Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-281432DOI: 10.1007/s11422-016-9730-zOAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-281432DiVA: diva2:914405
Ämnesspråk i matematiska och naturvetenskapliga praktiker
Swedish Research Council
Available from: 2016-03-23 Created: 2016-03-23 Last updated: 2016-05-03
In thesis
1. Kemiämnets normer och värden: Diskursanalytiska studier av nationella prov i kemi och tillhörande elevtexter
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Kemiämnets normer och värden: Diskursanalytiska studier av nationella prov i kemi och tillhörande elevtexter
2016 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this thesis was to examine the conditions for democratic bildung-oriented education for students in the school science discourse. This is something that the Swedish curriculum is based on and thereby the education should develop students' capacity for social, political and cultural awareness. The theoretical framework used is grounded in critical didactics and feminist theories which assume that students should feel involved and get their voices heard. The Swedish national test in chemistry (2009-2012) and student answers (198n) from one of the items in the 2009 test have been analyzed using discourse analysis.

The first study explored the norms and values present in the national tests in chemistry, in relation to people, society and nature. The second study focused on student’s evaluative language in their free-text answers to one of the items. Thereby attitudes in student answers were projected in relation to the norms and values found in the first study. Finally, the student answers were used once more in a third study, where students’ positioning in relation to the scientific discourse in the chemistry test (2009) was explored, as well as which feminist figurations these subject positions express.

The results show that the national tests harbor an elitist image and anandrocentric bias.The normative message is that students should adopt an objective, rational, non-judgmental and non-emotional role. Topics connected to young people’s everyday life, that might interest students, are rare. Contrary to the normative messages mediated by the tests, students use evaluative and embodied language to a high extent in their answers. They choose to write about topics that are close to their everyday life and they show that they are emotionally engaged. Through feminist figurations theories used in the third study one can see how the student-subject positions offer resistance in different ways. This is shown in their criticism of science and technology, human society and nature. The students' responses have embraced an embodied chemistry that can be interpreted as teaching based on bildung and deliberative discussions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2016. 111 p.
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Educational Sciences, 8
Apparatus of bodily production, bildung, Cartesian thoughts, critical didactics perspective, democracy, deliberative communication, embodied science teaching, emotions, empowering, engagement, epistemological community, evaluative language resources, feminist theories, feminist figurations, involvement, subject positions, performativity theory, semantic framework Appraisal, stereotyped dichotomies, students’ attitudes
National Category
Research subject
Curriculum Studies
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-281449 (URN)978-91-554-9525-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2016-05-13, Eva Netzeliussalen, von Kraemers Allé 1A, Uppsala, 13:15 (Swedish)
Available from: 2016-04-22 Created: 2016-03-24 Last updated: 2016-04-29

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