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Title [en]
Independence in higher education: A comparative study of Sweden and Russia
Abstract [en]
Since the Bologna Declaration in 1999, independence is a concept that has gained much importance in higher education, especially in relation to the independent project. Independence is however a concept which could be understood in different ways in different contexts. Since independence is a central concept in many steering documents on different levels it is reasonable that the higher education practice is influenced by how independence, as a concept, is understood and used. Ambiguities in how independence is understood and used in practice can lead to uncertainty and may even be a barrier to student exchange and hamper international comparability in accordance with the intentions of the Bologna Declaration. The project will therefore explore how the concept of independence is understood and used on different levels, in different education programs, as well as in different countries. The project will explore how the concept is understood and used in two education programs, teacher and journalism education, in two different countries - Russia and Sweden. Accordingly, the aim of this project is to study how independence is constructed, enabled and enacted in the practice of writing independent projects. These practices will be examined in three substudies; by studying local steering documents, by examining supervision interaction and by investigating supervisors' and students' opinions and understandings of independence. The framework for our study is socio-cultural, where the context for writing an independent project is of special importance. We ground our study in the theory around communicative activity types, a theoretical synthesis between micro-based conversational analysis and macro-oriented contextual analysis. The project will study both macro-perspectives through analysis of steering documents, and micro-perspectives through analysis of supervision interaction. In addition, the project has a comparative approach, focussing on differences in ideological or value-based perspectives between the two countries. The project will fill research gaps and develop the theoretical framework concerning independence, independent projects and supervision, especially as regards empirical studies. The project will also provide practitioners with a theoretical ground and a metalanguage to discuss and lift observations from their own practice, thus leading to pedagogical development. Finally the project will contribute to the research area around higher education and internationalization.
Publications (9 of 9) Show all publications
Zackariasson, M. (2019). Encouraging student independence: Perspectives on scaffolding in higher education supervision. Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education, Article ID JARHE-01-2019-0012.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Encouraging student independence: Perspectives on scaffolding in higher education supervision
2019 (English)In: Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education, ISSN 2050-7003, E-ISSN 1758-1184, article id JARHE-01-2019-0012Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

Purpose

The aim of this article is to examine if and how supervisors’ use of two kinds of potential scaffolding means - asking questions and giving instructions - could contribute to fulfilling the scaffolding intention of student independence, in the context of supervision of degree projects within higher education.

Design/methodology/approach

The article is based on qualitative content analysis of two series of supervision meetings between a supervisor and a student in Swedish higher education, comprising a total of eight recorded sessions. The theoretical framework of the article is centered on scaffolding and independent learning, and central concepts are contingency, fading, transfer of responsibility and student independence.

Findings

The analysis shows how the supervisors’ use of questions, and in some respect instructions, could contribute to fulfilling the scaffolding intention of student independence through enabling active participation of both student and supervisor and that the supervision was based on contingency. The analysis further shows that the supervisors tended to become more directive as the work came along, especially when students appeared to be running out of time. The supervision processes did thus not appear to be characterized by fading and transfer of responsibility.

Originality/value

This article contributes to the research field of higher education through discussing student independence as a potential scaffolding intention within supervision of degree projects, based on recorded supervision meetings. Supervision of degree projects is a highly relevant context for discussing scaffolding, since it combines increased student independence with close interaction between student and supervisor for an extended period.

Keywords
higher education, supervision of degree projects, student independence, teacher education, scaffolding, independent learning
National Category
Ethnology Educational Sciences
Research subject
Historical Studies; Studies in the Educational Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-39027 (URN)10.1108/JARHE-01-2019-0012 (DOI)
Funder
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies, 2015/3.1.1/1423
Available from: 2019-09-19 Created: 2019-09-19 Last updated: 2019-09-20Bibliographically approved
Zackariasson, M. (2018). ’I feel really good now!’: Emotions and independence in undergraduate supervision. Learning and Teaching, 11(3), 1-24
Open this publication in new window or tab >>’I feel really good now!’: Emotions and independence in undergraduate supervision
2018 (English)In: Learning and Teaching, ISSN 1755-2273, E-ISSN 1755-2281, Vol. 11, no 3, p. 1-24Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Within Swedish higher education, there is an explicit focus on the importance of independence, not least in relation to degree projects, which makes it a significant issue within supervision. What student independence comprises and how it may be achieved, however, is rarely discussed, even though the expectations of independence may be a stressful aspect of degree projects for students. This article examines the role emotions may play in undergraduate supervision in relation to student independence, through analysing recorded supervision meetings and focus group interviews with supervisors. Based in a theoretical framework centred on the concepts affective practices, anticipated emotions and anticipatory emotions, it discusses how supervisors handled students’ expressions of fear and anxiety, joy and relief, and how anticipated emotions could be used as a didactic tool.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Berghahn Books, 2018
Keywords
higher education, student independence, degree projects, undergraduate supervision, emotions, didactic tools
National Category
Ethnology Educational Sciences
Research subject
Studies in the Educational Sciences; Historical Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-37939 (URN)10.3167/latiss.2018.110303 (DOI)000462085500003 ()2-s2.0-85063607853 (Scopus ID)2015/3.1.1/1423 (Local ID)2015/3.1.1/1423 (Archive number)2015/3.1.1/1423 (OAI)
Funder
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies, 73/2015
Available from: 2019-04-02 Created: 2019-04-02 Last updated: 2019-08-12Bibliographically approved
Zackariasson, M. & Magnusson, J. (2018). Känslors och värderingars betydelse i handledning av självständiga arbeten – två perspektiv. In: NU2018 - Det akademiska lärarskapet: Abstrakt. Paper presented at NU2018 - Det akademiska lärarskapet, Västerås, Oktober 9-11, 2018. (pp. 118-119). , Article ID 738.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Känslors och värderingars betydelse i handledning av självständiga arbeten – två perspektiv
2018 (Swedish)In: NU2018 - Det akademiska lärarskapet: Abstrakt, 2018, p. 118-119, article id 738Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [sv]

En central del i det akademiska lärarskapet är att handleda studenter som befinner sig på olika nivåer i sin utbildning. Det kan handla om doktorander på forskarutbildningsnivå, men i och med att en så stor andel studenter skriver ett, eller två, självständiga arbeten under sin utbildning, handlar det oftare om handledning av studenter på grundläggande eller avancerad nivå. Det finns ett antal studier, både nationellt och internationellt, som behandlar olika aspekter av handledning av studenters uppsatser, som exempelvis handledningsprocessen, handledarstilar, och handledares erfarenheter och behov (t.ex. Augustsson & Jaldemark, 2014; Baker, Cluett, Ireland, Reading, & Rourke, 2014; Berg, 2016; Carlson, Svensson, Johannson, & Montin, 2016; Eriksson & Gustavsson, 2016; Kamler & Thomson, 2014; Scholefield & Cox, 2016; Sveen & Magnusson, 2013; Todd, Smith, & Bannister, 2006; Wiggins, Gordon-Finlayson, Becker, & Sullivan, 2016).

En aspekt av handledningsprocessen, som dock framför allt har diskuterats inom den forskning som finns om handledning på forskarutbildningsnivå, är att känslor och känslomässiga aspekter kan spela en viktig roll i handledning och för doktoranders skrivande (Cotterall, 2013; Doloriert, Sambrook, & Stewart, 2012; Sambrook, Stewart, & Roberts, 2008). En utgångspunkt i denna forskning är som regel att handledaren och doktoranden hinner etablera känslomässiga relationer i och med att en forskarutbildning pågår under flera år, och att det kan påverka skrivprocessen. Även inom forskning om skolelevers skrivande har betydelsen av känslor och värderingar framhållits, till exempel inom det forskningsfält där olika språkliga resurser för att värdera och uttrycka känslor analyseras utifrån ramverket appraisal (Martin & White, 2003). Denna forskning har till exempel visat att skolelevers texter värderas högre när språkliga resurser för att uttrycka värderingar och känslor används (Folkeryd, 2006).

Men hur är det i handledning av studenter på grundutbildningsnivå? Vilka resurser och strategier knutna till känslor och värderingar används av studenter och handledare i handledningssamtal om självständiga arbeten? Med utgångspunkt i den befintliga forskningen är detta frågor som bör belysas närmare, och i denna presentation ämnar vi göra det ur två olika perspektiv. Det första perspektivet utgår från de bedömningsprocesser som hela tiden pågår i handledningsinteraktionen, och vi analyserar dessa utifrån begrepp som knyts till ramverket appraisal (Martin & White, 2003). Det andra perspektivet utgår från hur handledare och studenter kan använda känslor och känslomässiga uttryck som en typ av handledningsstrategi. Här utgör begreppen anticipated emotions och anticipatory emotions de huvudsakliga analysredskapen (Barsics, Van der Linden, & D'Argembeau, 2016, 219).

Vårt paper har sin grund i ett pågående, tvärvetenskapligt projekt om självständighet i högre utbildning, där handledning har en central roll (http://www.sh.se/p3/ext/content.nsf/aget? openagent&key=projekt_page_1446544810333 ). Det empiriska material presentationen bygger på, består av inspelad handledningsinteraktion, med handledare och studenter från lärarutbildning och journalistik, vid två svenska lärosäten.

 

Referenser

Augustsson, G., & Jaldemark, J. (2014). Online supervision: a theory of supervisors’ strategic communicative influence on student dissertations. Higher Education, 67(1), 19-33.

Baker, M.-J., Cluett, E., Ireland, L., Reading, S., & Rourke, S. (2014). Supervising undergraduate research: A collective approach utilising groupwork and peer support. Nurse Education Today, 34(4), 637-642.

Barsics, C., Van der Linden, M., & D'Argembeau, A. (2016). Frequency, characteristics, and perceived functions of emotional future thinking in daily life. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 69(2), 217-233.

Berg, D. (2016). Det självständiga arbetet - en plats för emancipation eller automation. Utbildning och lärande, 10(1), 94-108.

Carlson, V., Svensson, P., Johannson, V., & Montin, S. (2016). Handledare, vägledare eller kontrollant? Utbildning och lärande, 10(1), 20-38.

Cotterall, S. (2013). More than just a brain: emotions and the doctoral experience. Higher Education Research and Development, 32(2), 174-187.

Doloriert, C., Sambrook, S., & Stewart, J. (2012). Power and emotion in doctoral supervision: Implications for HRD. European Journal of Training and Development, 36(7), 732-750.

Eriksson, A., & Gustavsson, S. (2016). Krav, uppmaningar och frågor - en autoetnografisk reflektion över handledning av självständiga arbeten. Utbildning och lärande, 10(1), 70-87.

Folkeryd, J. W. (2006). Writing with an attitude : appraisal and student texts in the school subject of Swedish. Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis.

Kamler, B., & Thomson, P. (2014). Helping doctoral students write pedagogies for supervision. London ; New York: Routledge,.

Martin, J. R., & White, P. R. (2003). The language of evaluation: Springer.

Sambrook, S., Stewart, J., & Roberts, C. (2008). Doctoral supervision . . . a view from above, below and the middle! Journal of Further and Higher Education, 32(1), 71-84.

Scholefield, D., & Cox, G. (2016). Evaluation of a model of dissertation supervision for 3rd year B.Sc. undergraduate nursing students. Nurse Education in Practice, 17, 78-85.

Schreier, M. (2012). Qualitative Content Analysis in Practice. London & Thousand Oaks: SAGE.

Sveen, H., & Magnusson, J. (2013). Handledningens vad, hur och varför: interaktionella mönster med fokus på röst. Högre Utbildning (2), 87-102.

Todd, M. J., Smith, K., & Bannister, P. (2006). Supervising a social science undergraduate dissertation: staff experiences and perceptions. Teaching in Higher Education, 11(2), 161-173.

Wiggins, S., Gordon-Finlayson, A., Becker, S., & Sullivan, C. (2016). Qualitative undergraduate project supervision in psychology: current practices and support needs of supervisors across North East England and Scotland. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 13(1), 1-19.

 

National Category
Ethnology Specific Languages Educational Sciences
Research subject
Studies in the Educational Sciences; Historical Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-36547 (URN)2015/3.1.1/1423 (Local ID)2015/3.1.1/1423 (Archive number)2015/3.1.1/1423 (OAI)
Conference
NU2018 - Det akademiska lärarskapet, Västerås, Oktober 9-11, 2018.
Funder
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies, 2015/3.1.1/1423
Available from: 2018-10-15 Created: 2018-10-15 Last updated: 2019-08-12Bibliographically approved
Magnusson, J. & Zackariasson, M. (2018). Student independence in undergraduate projects: different understandings in different academic contexts. Journal of Further and Higher Education
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Student independence in undergraduate projects: different understandings in different academic contexts
2018 (English)In: Journal of Further and Higher Education, ISSN 0309-877X, E-ISSN 0013-1326Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

Independence is a concept of scholarly interest in relation to higher education, especially when it comes to undergraduate projects. At the same time independence is characterised by a certain conceptual ambiguity, and, consequently, tends to be understood differently in different academic contexts, both nationally, internationally and interdisciplinary. Based on the existing research in the field, we see a need for more studies on how supervisors of undergraduate projects handle this conceptual ambiguity. The aim of this article is, thus, to examine how supervisors from two different education programmes, teacher education and journalism, in two different countries, Sweden and Russia, understand the concept of independence within higher education in connection with the supervision of undergraduate projects. The analysis is based on 12 focus-group interviews with supervisors at different universities in the two countries. In our results, we highlight and discuss seven different understandings of independence that were recurrent in our material and in which phases of the undergraduate project they were seen as most significant. Using Wittgenstein’s ideas on family resemblances, we conclude with a discussion of how the concept independence may be understood in relation to some associated concepts that are also significant within higher education.

Keywords
Higher education, undergraduate supervision, independence, Russia, Sweden, teacher education, journalism
National Category
Educational Sciences Languages and Literature
Research subject
Studies in the Educational Sciences; Baltic and East European studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-36042 (URN)10.1080/0309877X.2018.1490949 (DOI)2-s2.0-85051987013 (Scopus ID)2015/3.1.1/1423 (Local ID)2015/3.1.1/1423 (Archive number)2015/3.1.1/1423 (OAI)
Funder
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies, 2015/3.1.1/1423
Available from: 2018-08-13 Created: 2018-08-13 Last updated: 2019-08-12Bibliographically approved
Magnusson, J. & Zackariasson, M. (2018). Student independence in undergraduate projects: Supervisors’ understandings and attitudes. In: : . Paper presented at Forskning om högre utbildning, Lunds universitet, Lund 15-16/5 2018. (pp. 30).
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Student independence in undergraduate projects: Supervisors’ understandings and attitudes
2018 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
National Category
Educational Sciences Languages and Literature
Research subject
Baltic and East European studies; Historical Studies; Critical and Cultural Theory
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-35320 (URN)2015/3.1.1/1423 (Local ID)2015/3.1.1/1423 (Archive number)2015/3.1.1/1423 (OAI)
Conference
Forskning om högre utbildning, Lunds universitet, Lund 15-16/5 2018.
Funder
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies, 2015/3.1.1/1423
Available from: 2018-05-18 Created: 2018-05-18 Last updated: 2019-08-12Bibliographically approved
Zackariasson, M. & Magnusson, J. (2018). ’They shouldn’t work all by themselves’: Supervisors’ understandings of student independence in undergraduate projects. In: NERA 2018 - 46th CONGRESS Educational Research: Boundaries, Breaches and Bridges: Abstracts. Paper presented at NERA 2018 Boundaries, Breaches and Bridges, Oslo, March 8-10, 2018 (pp. 237-238). Oslo: University of Oslo
Open this publication in new window or tab >>’They shouldn’t work all by themselves’: Supervisors’ understandings of student independence in undergraduate projects
2018 (English)In: NERA 2018 - 46th CONGRESS Educational Research: Boundaries, Breaches and Bridges: Abstracts, Oslo: University of Oslo , 2018, p. 237-238Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Title: “They shouldn’t work all by themselves!” Supervisors’ understandings of student independence in undergraduate projects

Authors: Maria Zackariasson, professor, Södertörn University & Jenny Magnusson, lecturer, Södertörn University

That independence is a concept of scholarly interest in relation to higher education, is evident within the research field on independent learning, as well as in research on supervision within higher education (eg Broad 2006; Cukurova et al 2017; Gurr 2010; Lau 2017; Lee 2008). That it also in other ways constitutes a significant concept within the academic context, is evident for instance in how independence in the Swedish Higher Education Ordinance is described as one of the main goals of higher education (Swedish Council for Higher Education 1993).

At the same time, independence is characterized by a certain conceptual ambiguity, and, consequently, tends to be understood differently in different academic contexts, both nationally, internationally and interdisciplinary. This may pose a problem not least in relation to the supervision of undergraduate projects. In this paper we examine how supervisors understand the concept independence and how their understandings might influence their attitude to and practice of supervision of undergraduate projects. The analysis is based on focus group interviews with supervisors from two education programs, teacher education and journalism, in two countries, Sweden and Russia.

In our findings we highlight and discuss several understandings of independence that were evident in our material, and in which phases of the undergraduate project these were regarded to be most significant. The theoretical framework for the paper connects to how a number of concepts that are central within higher education, such as criticality/critical thinking, learner autonomy and independent learning, tend to be characterized by conceptual ambiguity (cf Borg and Al-Busaidi 2012; Gardner 2007; Moore 2011). Using Wittgenstein’s ideas on family resemblances, we discuss how the concept independence may be understood in relation to such associated concepts (Wittgenstein 1958).

The paper is of relevance to Nordic educational research through its focus on a concept that is rarely discussed and defined, even though it is most significant within higher education and for supervisors’ attitudes and didactic choices.

References

Borg, Simon, and Saleh Al-Busaidi. 2012. "Teachers’ beliefs and practices regarding learner autonomy." ELT Journal 66(3):283-92.

Broad, James. 2006. "Interpretations of independent learning in further education." Journal of Further and Higher Education 30(2):119-43.

Cukurova, Mutlu, Judith Bennett, and Ian Abrahams. 2017. "Students’ knowledge acquisition and ability to apply knowledge into different science contexts in two different independent learning settings." Research in Science & Technological Education:1-18.

Gurr, Geoff. 2010. "Negotiating the "Rackety Bridge" — a Dynamic Model for Aligning Supervisory Style with Research Student Development." Higher Education Research & Development:81-92.

Lau, Ken. 2017. "‘The most important thing is to learn the way to learn: evaluating the effectiveness of independent learning by perceptual changes." Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 42(3):415-30.

Lee, Anne. 2008. "How are doctoral students supervised? Concepts of doctoral research supervision." Studies in Higher Education 33(3):267-81.

Moore, Tim John. 2011. "Critical thinking and disciplinary thinking: a continuing debate." Higher Education Research & Development 30(3).

Swedish Council for Higher Education 1993. "The Higher Education Ordinance" Ministry of Education and Research. Accessed 2017-04-11. https://www.uhr.se/en/start/laws-and-regulations/Laws-and-regulations/The-Higher-Education-Ordinance/.

Wittgenstein, Ludwig. 1958. Philosophical investigations. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Oslo: University of Oslo, 2018
National Category
Educational Sciences Languages and Literature
Research subject
Baltic and East European studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-34832 (URN)2015/3.1.1/1423 (Local ID)2015/3.1.1/1423 (Archive number)2015/3.1.1/1423 (OAI)
Conference
NERA 2018 Boundaries, Breaches and Bridges, Oslo, March 8-10, 2018
Funder
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies, 73/15
Available from: 2018-04-11 Created: 2018-04-11 Last updated: 2019-08-12Bibliographically approved
Zackariasson, M. (2018). “You are going to hate me!”: Ethnological perspectives on the role of emotions in undergraduate supervision. In: : . Paper presented at The 34th Nordic Ethnology and Folklore Conference, Uppsala, June 12-15, 2018..
Open this publication in new window or tab >>“You are going to hate me!”: Ethnological perspectives on the role of emotions in undergraduate supervision
2018 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Working in multidisciplinary research settings often contributes to raising questions around one’s own research practice and disciplinary traditions and habits. Why do we do things the way we do and how may an ethnological perspective contribute to seeing and understanding things in a different way than in other disciplines? This presentation will start from a multidisciplinary project on higher education, where researchers from journalism, Swedish and ethnology cooperate in collecting and analyzing material and also write articles together. The focus of the research project is undergraduate supervision, and in particular how the idea and ideal of student independence, expressed for instance in the Swedish Higher Education Ordinance, is understood and handled by supervisors in journalism and teacher education.

In my presentation I will concentrate on one of the types of material we have collected within the project, namely recorded supervision sessions, and how this material may be used to examine the role of emotions in undergraduate supervision, particularly in relation to the ideal of student independence. The analysis of the material is based in a theoretical framework centered on the concepts affective practices, anticipated emotions and anticipatory emotions, and focuses on how the participating supervisors handled students’ expressions of fear and anxiety, joy and relief, as well as on how anticipated emotions could be used by the supervisors during the supervision. In the discussion I will also put my ethnological perspective in relation to how researchers from the other disciplines within the project approach the same material.

National Category
Ethnology Educational Sciences
Research subject
Studies in the Educational Sciences; Historical Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-36035 (URN)2015/3.1.1/1423 (Local ID)2015/3.1.1/1423 (Archive number)2015/3.1.1/1423 (OAI)
Conference
The 34th Nordic Ethnology and Folklore Conference, Uppsala, June 12-15, 2018.
Funder
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies, 73/15
Available from: 2018-08-09 Created: 2018-08-09 Last updated: 2019-08-12Bibliographically approved
Gullö, J.-O. & Goldenzwaig, G. (2017). How independent are journalism students in the course of their individiual work?: Representations of independence in two academic contexts.. In: Journalism education across borders: . Paper presented at European Journalism Training Association’s Teachers’ Conference 2017 & 9th International Media Readings in Moscow, Mass Media and Communications, Moskow, October 19-20, 2017.. Moskva
Open this publication in new window or tab >>How independent are journalism students in the course of their individiual work?: Representations of independence in two academic contexts.
2017 (English)In: Journalism education across borders, Moskva, 2017Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Moskva: , 2017
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Baltic and East European studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-34156 (URN)2015/3.1.1/1423 (Local ID)2015/3.1.1/1423 (Archive number)2015/3.1.1/1423 (OAI)
Conference
European Journalism Training Association’s Teachers’ Conference 2017 & 9th International Media Readings in Moscow, Mass Media and Communications, Moskow, October 19-20, 2017.
Funder
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies
Available from: 2018-01-14 Created: 2018-01-14 Last updated: 2019-08-12Bibliographically approved
Gullö, J.-O., Magnusson, J. & Goldenzwaig, G. (2016). Independence: Different Understandings and Meanings in Steering Documents in Higher Education in Sweden and Russia. In: ECER 2016 Leading Education: The Distinct Contributions of Educational Research and Researchers. Paper presented at ECER 2016, Dublin, August 22-26, 2016..
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Independence: Different Understandings and Meanings in Steering Documents in Higher Education in Sweden and Russia
2016 (English)In: ECER 2016 Leading Education: The Distinct Contributions of Educational Research and Researchers, 2016Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Since the Bologna Declaration in 1999, independence is a concept that has gained much importance in higher education. Within the Bologna cooperation, an overall European framework has been developed with general learning outcomes and competences for different examination levels. In this framework, independence is a central concept to describe progression. Concerning independence, the independent project on the undergraduate level, also called bachelor essay or degree project, has a special role in ensuring and maintaining the relevant learning outcomes (e.g. Prop. 2004/05, Prosser & Webb 1994), partly due to its pre-dominance as a means of assessing student performance (cf. Lillis 1999, Scott 1999, Turner 1999), and is therefore of special relevance here.

Consequently, independence has become increasingly important in higher education in Europe, in steering documents as well as assessment criteria. Due to different epistemologies in, as well as between, countries (e.g. Fox 1994, Cadman 1997), the different understandings of independence are both varying and complex and needs to be further examined. The complexities and variations also stem from a general problem of implicitness rather than explicitness in higher education (e.g. Lillis 1999, Scott 1999, Turner 1999), for instance regarding independence.

Independence is however a concept which could be understood in different ways in different contexts. Since independence appears to be a central concept in many steering documents on different levels it is reasonable that the higher education practice is influenced by how independence, as a concept, is understood and used. Ambiguities in how independence is understood and used in practice can lead to uncertainty and may even be a barrier to student exchange and hamper international comparability in accordance with the intentions of the Bologna Declaration. The aim of this paper is therefore to explore how the concept of independence is used in steering documents in different countries, Sweden and Russia more specifically, and by that capture different perspectives and meanings of the concept of independence.

In this study, a substudy of a three-year research project, we focus on steering documents since the national and local steering documents form the legal basis for the practice of producing independent projects. The steering documents consist of learning outcomes, assessment criteria, instructions and descriptions concerning the independent project. All national and local steering documents relating to the independent project are collected in a corpus, and then analyzed and compared.

The framework for our study is based on a socio-cultural and dialogical perspective (Bachtin 1981; Vygotskij 2001, Lea & Stierer 2000; Lillis 1997; 2003, Linell 2011), which proposes that learning and understanding develop in context, and that the role of language is important when it comes to constructing epistemologies and academic knowledge.

Bachtin, M. (1981). The dialogic imagination: four essays. Austin: Univ. of Texas P.

Cadman, K. (1997). Thesis writing for international students: A question of identity?. English for Specific Purposes, 16(1), 3-14.

Fox, H. (1994). Listening to the World: Cultural Issues in Academic Writing. National Council of Teachers of English: Urbana, IL.

Lea, M. R., & Stierer, B. (2000). Student writing in higher education: New contexts. Open University Press/Society for Research into Higher Education.

Lillis, T. (1997). New Voices in Academia? The Regulative Nature of Academic Writing Conventions. Language and Education, 11(3), 192-207.

Lillis, T. (1999). Whose common sense. I C. Jones, J. Turner. & BV Street (Eds.), Students writing in the university: Cultural and epistemological issues, 127-47.

Lillis, T. (2003). Student Writing as 'Academic Literacies': Drawing on Bakhtin to Move from Critique to Design. Language and Education, 17(3), 182–199. 

Lillis, T. (1999). Whose common sense. I C. Jones, J. Turner. & BV Street (Eds.), Students writing in the university: Cultural and epistemological issues, 127-47. Linell, P. (2011). Samtalskulturer: Kommunikativa verksamhetstyper i samhället. Institutionen för kultur och kommunikation, Linköpings universitet.

Prosser, M., & Webb, C. (1994). Relating the process of undergraduate essay writing to the finished product. Studies in Higher Education, 19(2), 125-138.

Regeringens proposition 2004/05:162 (2005). Ny värld – ny högskola. Prop. 2004/05:162.

Scott, M. (1999). Agency and subjectivity in student writing. In: Jones, Carys, Turner, Joan & Street, (Eds.). Students writing in the university: Cultural and epistemological issues (Vol. 8). John Benjamins Publishing.

Turner, J. (1999). Academic literacy and the discourse of transparency. Students writing in the university: Cultural and epistemological issues. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 149-160.

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National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Baltic and East European studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-34157 (URN)2015/3.1.1/1423 (Local ID)2015/3.1.1/1423 (Archive number)2015/3.1.1/1423 (OAI)
Conference
ECER 2016, Dublin, August 22-26, 2016.
Funder
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies, 73/2015
Available from: 2018-01-14 Created: 2018-01-14 Last updated: 2019-08-12Bibliographically approved
Co-InvestigatorGullö, Jan-Olof
Principal InvestigatorMagnusson, Jenny
Co-InvestigatorZackariasson, Maria
Co-InvestigatorGoldenzwaig, Gregory
Coordinating organisation
Södertörn University
Funder
Period
2016-01-01 - 2018-12-31
Keywords [sv]
Östersjö- och Östeuropaforskning
Keywords [en]
Baltic and East European studies
National Category
Specific LanguagesPedagogical Work
Identifiers
DiVA, id: project:1888Project, id: 73/2015_OSS

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