Norms and values in a chemistry discourse: Discursive analyses of the Swedish national test in chemistry and student answers.

This project examines 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 analysed using discourse analysis.

Three studies were conducted within the framework of the project. 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 use in their free-text answers to one of the items in the national test in chemistry from 2009. 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 was explored, as well as which feminist figurations these subject positions express.

The results show that the national tests harbor an elitist image and androcentric 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 figuration 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.

Researcher: Marie Ståhl

Thesis: Kemiämnets normer och värden: Diskursanalytiska studier av nationella prov i kemi och tillhörande elevtexter

Senast uppdaterad: 2022-10-14