Summary in English
Two quantitative surveys and 12 qualitative case studies will be conducted in four different subjects in the research project ARK&APP (2013–2015). The present study is the first of three case studies in one of the subjects; English. Three research questions guide this case study:
- How are educational resources used in teaching practices?
- How do various educational resources function in interactions between students and teachers?
- How do educational resources foster engagement and learning among students?
Two classes were observed by using systematic observations, field notes, video data, and pictures for five weeks in the spring 2013. The main topic for the educational unit in both classes was the fantasy genre, and the pupil’s coursework was to write their own fantasy story. In addition, they were to make oral presentations of a self-selected English novel. The main activities—oral presentations and written work—reflected two of the basic skills (grunnleggende ferdigheter) in the Norwegian curriculum “Knowledge Promotion” (Kunnskapsløftet, LK06).
The analysis shows that the textbook and teachers’ self-developed learning resources (handouts) were the main teaching resources in this educational unit. Several handouts were used during the time we observed, for example one contained a step-by-step guide on how to write a story in the fantasy genre and another contained evaluation criteria for the students’ oral presentations. These served as supplements to the textbook and as structuring resources for the students’ learning. Our analysis shows that the textbook still holds a central position as a learning resource. The textbook’s central position is also highlighted in a number of earlier studies of Norwegian classrooms and those of other countries (Backmann, Haug & Myklebust, 2010; Klette, 2003; Alexander, 2000). While the textbook is still central, we also see that this resource does not have the same prescriptive and instructional function as described in previous studies; the textbook seems to be the point of departure for teachers’ further development of tasks and activities.
We observed that teachers’ handouts had a prominent place in the classroom. While the textbook is a text created by external authors, these handouts show the teachers’ own ideas, intentions and design of their classroom activities. As such, our study demonstrates how teachers are increasingly the “designers” of classroom activities and resources (Hauge, Lund & Vestøl, 2007, Lund & Hauge, 2011; Kress et al., 2005). Furthermore, our material seems to confirm that interactions in the classroom have changed in the sense that the teacher is no longer talking extensively before handing over the work to the students. We also observed that the teacher allowed more student initiatives than previous studies of initiation-response-feedback/evaluation(IRF/IRE) sequences show. Despite changes in the teacher’s role, the classroom activities that dominated were traditional: teacher-led classroom dialogue, individual work and pre-prepared oral presentations.. Peer interactions only accounted for 12 minutes out of 720 observed minutes. Digital learning resources were used only to a small degree, e.g. students only used a PC to type up their fictional story (drafted by hand), and teachers’ use of digital resources were limited to PowerPoint to introduce new topics to the students. As such, this study may indirectly demonstrate that schools adapted to existing practices find it challenging to include new digital resources as part of their educational units.