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Korean middle school students’ reflections on the Free Semester policy: How young adolescents in Korea exercise agency in the context of East Asian education reform
Linköping University, Department of Thematic Studies, Department of Child Studies.
2018 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

This thesis aims to explore how Korean middle school students exercise agency in the Free Semester policy setting. The Free Semester is an education reform policy in Korea which has been implemented to change traditional East Asian learning environment to be more student-centered and creative one since 2013. This qualitative research is motivated by what kinds of difference the Free Semester policy have brought in regards to Korean young adolescents’ perception on schooling, learning and autonomy. Data for this study was mainly consisted of semi-structured interviews with seven Korean public middle school students; three second-grade girls (age of 13), one second-grade boy (age of 13), one third-grade girl (age of 14) and two third-grade boys (age of 14) who experienced the Free Semester one or two years ago. To analyze the interview data, thematic analysis was used and, as a result, three main themes were found as follows: Theme 1. Experiencing autonomy, Theme 2. Hope for more autonomous actions 3. Appreciation of social and cultural values. Korean middle school students experienced a widened range of agency in a newly given school setting under the Free Semester policy. However, their agency was still far limited by East Asian education culture. The students were stuck in ambivalent situations; while the students are encouraged for student-centered and creative learning by the Free Semester policy, they were still pressured to value traditional passive learning attitude since it is regarded as a winning strategy to earn a higher test score.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. , p. 40
Keywords [en]
Free Semester, Korean education reform, Asian education culture, Korean middle school student, agency
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-148615ISRN: LIU-TEMAB/MPCS-A-18/003-SEOAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-148615DiVA, id: diva2:1218872
Subject / course
Master's Programme in Child Studies (120 ECTS credits)
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2018-06-19 Created: 2018-06-15 Last updated: 2018-06-19Bibliographically approved

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