Doktorsavhandling, 2019
Malmö universitet, Fakulteten för lärande och samhälle
Maria Rubin

Språkliga redskap - Språklig beredskap: en praktiknära studie om elevers ämnesspråkliga deltagande i ljuset av inkluderande undervisning

Avhandlingen handlar om språkinriktad undervisning och förutsättningar för elevers deltagande i ämnesundervisningens olika aktiviteter. Avhandlingen är ett aktionsforskningsprojekt där Maria Rubin tillsammans med tre lärare på vård- och omsorgsprogrammet vid en gymnasieskola främjat en språkinriktad undervisning genom språkligt stöd, interaktion samt kontext, som är de tre grundbultarna inom språkinriktad didaktik.

Resultaten visar att språkinriktad ämnesundervisning kräver tid och utrymme till reflektion för lärarna om den egna undervisningen. Men också att elevernas språkliga deltagande inte sker av sig självt. Det kräver återkommande planering av läraren, vilket i sig förutsätter just reflektion och möjlighet att hitta vad som är centralt i just mitt ämne för att ge eleverna möjligheter att använda och utveckla sitt språk aktivt. Som lärare måste man också skapa bryggor från elevernas vardagssituationer och vardagsspråk över till det mer specifika ämnesspråket.

Resultaten visar även lärarens vilja att stötta och få eleven att lyckas ibland kan leda till förenkling. Det riskerar att eleven inte tillägnar sig de strategier som behövs till exempel för att läsa olika texter i ämnesundervisningen. Samtidigt synliggör studien hur komplex undervisningssituationen är. En del elever behöver mycket mer stöd. Andra elever skulle behöva betydligt mer utmanande uppgifter för att komma vidare. Lärare behöver ges förutsättningar för att möta olika elever i undervisningen.

Abstract

The aim of the study is to shed light on opportunities and constraints regarding the pupils´ participation in subject-specific discourse in the classroom. The thesis has its point of departure in two areas of research, namely research on inclusion and research on content teaching in multilingual classes and, in particular, content based approaches for second language learners. These converge in common issues concerning where and how pupils are provided with the prerequisites for participation in regular instruction. The objective of the study is also to discuss the prerequisites of an inclusive instruction in terms of inclusive didactic building blocks. The teaching context is that of the shared programme subject, Medicine, in the vocational upper secondary school Health and Social Care Programme. By way of various actions the instruction evolves in the direction of language oriented content teaching and language oriented learning activities are conducted. Research endorses educational methods, and the pivotal role of teachers in these methods, that support pupils´ linguistic and cognitive development through an explicit focus on academic language proficiency. The theoretical framework is rooted in socio-cultural perspectives on language, second language development and learning. The study is designed as a practice-based action research study where the researcher collaborates with three teachers who are motivated to develop their language oriented content teaching. The action research project aims to support the participants in their joint formulation and reflection on development needs in their own practices and is directed both towards the professional development of the teachers and the development of their practices.

The results from the exploratory phase answer the question about what it is that characterises the teachers´ typical learning activities in the classroom, as well as the opportunities and constraints that exist for the students’ participation in subject-specific discourse. Typical learning activities are characterised by the striving of the teachers’ to support the pupils’ understanding of the subject-specific language. Opportunity arises for the pupils to participate in subject-specific discourse given that the teacher and pupils ascribe the same signification to the words. The pupils’ associations and the lack of contextualisation in the content classroom threaten to constrain the pupils´ participation. The pupils’ participation is constrained when the pupils lack strategies and understanding of the content of the text. The results from the second phase answer the question about the opportunities and challenges that emerge for the pupils’ participation in subject-specific discourse when the learning activities in the classroom become language oriented. The actions are planned and carried out on the basis of the development needs defined by the teacher in her practice. Four language oriented learning activities are organised for whole classes and smaller groups alike. During the first two language oriented learning activities new opportunities emerge for the pupils to participate in subject-specific discourse when the teacher asks them to first repeat a statement so as to then write a joint formulation thus providing an opportunity for a joint construction zone. During the third and the fourth actions, opportunities are created for the pupils to participate in subject-specific discourse with the whole class after the pupils have named separate words, and the teacher opens up for continued discussion. Through the language oriented content teaching, the focus is directed to the functional side of language. The results show that it is very demanding for individual teachers to test and change their teaching practices, and reveal constraints regarding framework factors and organisational issues. Moreover, the results reveal the importance of opportunities for teachers to reflect upon, and to question their practice, and to assume an investigatory approach so as to increase their knowledge and further integrate language oriented content teaching. Finally, in the thesis, a re-analysis is conducted in the light of Marianis’ model of High challenge – High support. The results point to an expectation that the pupil already possesses sufficient familiarity with different tools to be able to participate unaided. Furthermore, the pupils’ participation in subject-specific discourse is constrained when pupils and teachers assign different meanings to words. In spite of the teacher’s planning and macro-scaffolding, the teacher also needs to improvise in the moment and support pupils by micro-scaffolding. The re-analysis shows how complicated it is for the teacher, in spite of the language orientation, to both support and challenge different pupils and to bring about a movement between different levels of challenge and support. During the action research process the teacher becomes steadily more aware of pupils in need of various forms of support and challenge, at the same time as the dilemma arises as to whom the teacher should prioritize and plan for. The complexity can be understood on the basis of what Biesta calls Internal Exclusion, that is, that students can participate without having access to the subject content. In this complexity, second language didactics, inclusion and special needs education all converge in a constant process of meeting pupils´ needs, needs that arise through diversity in the classroom.

A prerequisite for an inclusive teaching of school subjects is that the teacher understands the individual differences within the subject-specific teaching. Finally, the discussion reflects on how inclusive building blocks can support teachers’ striving towards an inclusive working practice in which they promote secure forms of collaboration, support a developing autonomy, respond to, and make visible, the pupil’s (pre)understanding in the moment, support the creation of the pupils’ social relationships plan for an ongoing movement between support and challenge, plan for the diversity of the students and for students with difficulties, plan for pupils’ active participation in subject-specific discourse, and promote peer support to meet diversity. A general result from the study illustrates that qualitative aspects of pupils’ participation are pivotal for inclusive education.