Category Archives: Student Influence

Supported Education and Neuropsychiatric Disabilities Applying Supported Education for higher studies

This paper by Kerstin Winberg is written in Swedish. However, you can read the abstract in English here.

The purpose of this study was to investigate the experiences of studying amongst people with a neuropsychiatric disability who received support from the model Supported Education, and people who did not get this support. Another purpose was to discuss if the model could be suitable for this group. The study also shows how some support options for this group were inspired by the support given to two other groups with disabilities. The research method had a narrative approach, where fourteen participants were asked to write a short reflective narrative about their experience of studying, with/without the support from Supported Education. The stories were analysed with narrative analysis. The result shows that the persons without support from the model used the family as their primary support, and that support from formal support givers was slow, especially before the participants could show that they had a diagnosis. The persons who received the support from the model were generally satisfied with the support they got, and did not emphasize the family as support givers in the same way. The analysis shows how it could me valuable to use Supported Education for people with a neuropsychiatric disability, not only because it helps them to study, but also helps them gain higher self-esteem through personal development.

Student led parent conferences

Research shows that most of the talking in parent-teacher conferences is done by the teacher and the parent, with few opportunities for the student to express ideas or pose questions. Most conferences tend to focus on the shortcomings of the student, and their documentation becomes means to show the student appropriate behaviors, rather than focusing on learning progress.

Student led parent conferences aim at shifting the dialogue in favor of the student’s voice and opinions. The work starts with a thematic unit during 1-2 weeks, where the students self-assess their abilities and knowledge in each subject area. Each student and his/her teachers discuss results and future learning goals and activities. This thematic unit ends with each student leading a conference, where the parent will be informed of the student’s present progress and of the learning goals and activities suggested henceforth. The teacher will participate when the goals are agreed on, but will otherwise stay in the background during the conference.

The underlying ideas are socio-cognitive, socio-constructive, and formative: If the student understands his/her results, goals, and means to get there, learning will be more effective. The reflective dialogue, a recurrent working order, and meta-cognitive thinking will have impact on learning.

In this qualitative study, students, teachers, parents, and school leaders from two schools have been interviewed in groups. The schools have practiced student led parent conferences for five and ten years. As when the method was initiated ten years ago, this project is a joint venture, the researcher and the participating schools cooperate. This makes the project innovative, even though the methods are conventional. The research questions address how the respondents describe the effects of the student led parent conferences, compared to teacher led conferences, on pedagogical planning, school results, and administration, and differences between the schools.

Important findings are that the student, when participating in student led parent conferences, understands, describes, and makes strategic decisions about his/her development. Formative and understandable documentation is imperative if the student is to be able to shoulder the attempted responsibility. These conferences are more informative, have higher pedagogical qualities, and will introduce a more egalitarian division of power, where the student, not the teacher, is an active subject. Teacher and parent roles change to be more cooperative. The results point to the necessity of introducing the strategy to new parents, and to recurrently inform and educate them over the years, to explain the value of the conference, and their role. The teacher’s ability to understand why different methodological steps are carried out affects how the conferences are carried out and hence the effects on student learning. This shows the importance of educating the teachers about pedagogical theory connected to the conferences. From a European perspective, student led conferences offer students, parents, and teachers a better chance to develop crucial information as well as superior education.

See slide show: Student Led Parent Conferences

Thoughtful Dialogue in Relation to Other Instructional Methods

Thoughtful discussion in school is encouraged by methods like the Socratic seminar, philosophy for/with children, and deliberative dialogues. The paper explores how didactics (as the art and science of teaching) can be analyzed from considering how the teacher plans the product and/or process of teaching. The switching between the different didactic positions will teach students habits of mind to promote a lifelong learning process. To motivate the students to learn, the sequence in which the different didactic positions are addressed is important. The paper endeavors to explain what function the methods for thoughtful discussion have in the school curricula when integrated with other instructional methods. Thoughtful discussion might serve as a start of the learning process but might also help to challenge and integrate along the way. However, whether or not thoughtful discussion is seen as a meaningful way of teaching is dependent on the inner pedagogical theory of the teacher.

Read the paper: Thoughtful dialogue in relation to other instructional methods