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Project: Exploring the elusive teaching gap – equity and knowledge segregation in teaching processes

This project examines the factors that affect knowledge segregation in school beyond the socioeconomic and residential factors. What we do not know in the Swedish context is how the actual teaching can promote or impede the school success of different groups in relation to standards-based curricula. A foundational and genuine educational question relates to how different classroom discourses and concepts of knowledge affect students’ access to "powerful" knowledge.

Project information

Project manager
Ninni Wahlström
Other project members
Daniel Sundberg, Bettina Vogt, Daniel Alvunger
Participating organizations
Linnaeus University
Vetenskapsrådet (the Swedish Research Council)
1 Jan 2018-31 Dec 2021
Pedagogy (Department of Education, Faculty of Social Sciences)

More about the project

This project examines the factors that affect knowledge segregation in school. The purpose of this research project is to generate a theory-based framework for classroom research based on curriculum theory where the relations between different teaching factors are analyzed and explained. Moreover, the project will provide new knowledge on the relations between the pattern of classroom discourses, student performance, and teacher expectations. Finally, the project will generate insights concerning the process of recontextualizing knowledge from curriculum content into concrete teaching from an equity perspective.

Our hypothesis, based on previous studies, is that both classroom discourses and concepts of knowledge differ between low- and high-performance classrooms. The overarching question of gaining access to powerful knowledge includes three key areas:

  • What patterns of classroom discourses characterize the teaching offered to students in high-performance and low-performance classrooms?
  • What is considered powerful knowledge for high-performing and low-performing students?
  • How does a standards-based curriculum affect the teaching process for these two groups?

The classroom study will include four in-depth case studies on classes (school year 8) in four schools in high and low SES areas. The data collection period will cover one full school year. Each classroom observation will consist of sixteen lessons, eight lessons per academic year in two subject areas covered by the PISA surveys – science and reading (Swedish) – to allow for systematic comparisons. The study will thus include sixty-four videotaped lessons in the two subjects. Every second round of recorded video observations will be followed up by interviews (stimulated recall by post-video analysis) with teachers and with student focus groups.

The project is part of the research in the Studies in Curriculum, Teaching and Evaluation (SITE) research group.