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Independence: Different Understandings and Meanings in Steering Documents in Higher Education in Sweden and Russia
Södertörn University, School of Social Sciences, Journalism.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4939-0938
Södertörn University, School of Culture and Education, Swedish Language.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0280-9095
Södertörn University, School of Social Sciences, Journalism.
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.

Vygotskij, L. S. (2001). Tänkande och språk. Göteborg: Daidalos.

 

 

 

 

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016.
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Baltic and East European studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-34157Local ID: 2015/3.1.1/1423OAI: oai:DiVA.org:sh-34157DiVA, id: diva2:1173777
Conference
ECER 2016, Dublin, August 22-26, 2016.
Projects
Independence in higher education: A comparative study of Sweden and Russia
Funder
The Foundation for Baltic and East European StudiesAvailable from: 2018-01-14 Created: 2018-01-14 Last updated: 2018-07-18Bibliographically approved

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Gullö, Jan-OlofMagnusson, JennyGoldenzwaig, Gregory

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