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"Social Issues Open up Social Studies": Upper Secondary Teachers' Coneptions of, and Didactial Reflections upon the Subject.
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Educational Studies. Högskolan Dalarna. (Pedagogiskt arbete)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4518-0239
2017 (English)In: Nordidactica: Journal of Humanities and Social Science Education, ISSN 2000-9879, no 2, 1-24 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article identifies and discusses conceptions of the Swedish school subject social studies in upper secondary school through an empirical study consisting of qualitative interviews with seven teachers of social studies. The curriculum declares that teaching social studies shall be done with “social issues as the point of departure”. The analysis focuses on the teachers’ didactical reflections on the subject specific concept of social issues in relation to their own teaching practice. Conclusions that are made are that the approach of teaching social studies with ‘social issues as the  point of departure’ leads to conceptions of social studies as being a subject that is open to the unexpected and that transcends its borders, and with its purpose seen as its content, or put differently: the ‘what’ defined through, or as, its ‘why’. It seems more relevant to discuss what the social issues, as a didactical concept, do to the subject rather than what they are. The very quest for a certain core in the subject is being challenged. A reflection on these results leads to a discussion on the potential intrinsic value of social issues in teaching social studies.  

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlstad: Karlstads universitet, 2017. no 2, 1-24 p.
Keyword [en]
Social studies, social issues, didactics, upper secondary school, teaching
National Category
Pedagogical Work
Research subject
Educational Work
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-48269OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-48269DiVA: diva2:1087396
Available from: 2017-04-06 Created: 2017-04-06 Last updated: 2017-05-30Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Samhällsfrågor som didaktiskt begrepp i samhällskunskap på gymnasieskolan: En potential för undervisningen
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Samhällsfrågor som didaktiskt begrepp i samhällskunskap på gymnasieskolan: En potential för undervisningen
2017 (Swedish)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[en]
Social Issues as a Didactical Concept in Social Studies in Upper Secondary School
Abstract [sv]

Undervisningen i samhällskunskap på gymnasieskolan ska enligt anvisningarna i ämnesplanen bedrivas ”med utgångspunkt i samhällsfrågor”. Vad innebär det? I denna licentiatuppsats diskuteras ämnet samhällskunskap och dess potential, analyserat utifrån samhällsfrågor som didaktiskt begrepp. Studien är en sammanläggning av tre artiklar som bygger på tre studier. I den första studien analyseras begreppet samhällsfrågor i styrdokument över tid. Den andra studien bygger på en enkät som 74 gymnasielärare i samhällskunskap besvarat. Den tredje studien är slutligen en intervjustudie med sju av de lärare som medverkat i enkätstudien. Studiens design medger en successiv förflyttning av fokus från struktur till aktör.

När analysen riktas mot samhällsfrågor som didaktiskt begrepp framträder samhällskunskapsämnet som ett ämne som är öppet för det oväntade och som låter såväl aktuella händelser som elevers genuina frågor forma ämnet. I uppsatsen diskuteras argument för att undervisning som sker med utgångspunkt i samhällsfrågor kan motverka ett instrumentellt förhållningssätt till ämnet.

Göran Morén är verksam som lärarutbildare vid Högskolan Dalarna. Han har tidigare erfarenhet som samhällskunskapslärare i gymnasieskola. Sedan 2013 har han ingått i forskarskolan Skolnära, ett samarbete mellan Karlstads universitet och Högskolan Dalarna.

Abstract [en]

This licentiate thesis examines and discusses the potential of the subject social studies by way of an analysis of the concept social issues. It comprises three articles which are based on three separate studies. The first was a discourse analysis on the concept of social issues in steering documents for social studies in upper secondary school from the 1960’s until the current curriculum. The second was a questionnaire in which 74 social studies teachers answered questions regarding their understanding and teaching of social studies, specifically in relation to the concept of social issues. The third study was based on interviews with seven teachers who had completed the questionnaire.

The study allows for a shift in focus between structure and agency. Whereas the structure dominates the analysis in the first article the teachers, with agency, gradually move into the foreground in the other articles. With a social-constructionist perspective, phenomena like a school subject and teaching practice are seen as formed by both structure, such as discourse, and agents, in this case professional teachers.

The text analysis shows that social issues as a didactical concept is shifting in its meaning and didactical function for the subject depending on the discourse. It is argued that social issues, in the current steering documents, are downplayed in relation to concepts like “core content” and “knowledge requirements”. The questionnaire that followed showed that teachers had an understanding of social issues that challenged the logic of the previous discourse analysis. They seemed to find it possible to combine “teaching with social issues as the point of departure” with the predefined content and knowledge requirements of the subject syllabus. Based on the results of the final interview study the third article argues that the subject social studies, when seen through the lens of social issues, is one that is open, strives beyond the limitations of  core content and calls for  authentic, sometimes controversial content.

The conclusion of the licentiate thesis is that the concept of social issues carries the potential to create a subject that is meaningful for students and that challenges the risk of school becoming instrumental.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlstad: Karlstads universitet, 2017. 89 p.
Series
Karlstad University Studies, ISSN 1403-8099 ; 2017:17
Keyword
Social issues, social studies, upper secondary school, Samhällsfrågor, samhällskunskap, gymnasieskolan
National Category
Pedagogical Work
Research subject
Educational Work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-48190 (URN)978-91-7063-775-9 (ISBN)978-91-7063-776-6 (ISBN)
Presentation
2017-06-01, Högskolan Dalarna, Föreläsningssal 5, Högskolegatan 2, Falun, 10:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2017-05-11 Created: 2017-04-21 Last updated: 2017-05-11Bibliographically approved

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