Research programme: Transformations – school subjects, subject-specific teaching and learning
ROSE research centres on the broad issue of how a content is manifested in teaching and perceived by students and teachers. One way of addressing this problem area is to employ the concept of transformation. The transformation concept involves an interest in what is to be learnt, the teaching content and the interaction between the transformation and the specific practice. It also covers the issue of the relationship between the content of a school subject and the academic discipline. Problematising this relationship from different perspectives has been a prominent feature of ROSE research. Teaching content is transformed in different ways depending on the context in which it is enacted. An overall common research interest in ROSE is how different practices affect and shape subject content. Some of the practices studied are: test design and assessment practice, textbook design and the use of textbooks, teaching literature and teachers’ use of language .
The transformation concept is described in the Anthropological Theory of Didactics (ATD). This theory postulates that all human activities can be described in the form of praxeologies, which consist of two main components: the praxis or know-how, and the logos or knowledge.
The transformation from knowledge as a tool to be put to use to knowledge as something to be taught and learnt is what Chevallard (1989; 2007) has described as the “didactic transposition”. The process of didactic transposition acts on the changes that a body of knowledge and its uses has to undergo at the different levels of the educational organisation.The steps of the didactic transposition can and most likely will take place between subjects as well as between formal and informal learning settings. In our research programme, the focus of study is the steps of didactic transposition. ATD provides a theoretical framework, that is, the levels of co-determination in teaching, to identify and contextualise the conditions and constraints that influence didactic transposition in different settings. The concept of didactic transposition, however, should not be understood to mean that school subjects are to be seen as simple replications of the academic disciplines. Instead, we would like to highlight the need to problematize this relation.
Tranformation processes can also be described in relation to the concept of Powerful Knowledge (Young 2011; 2013) which characterizes the relationship between academic disciplines and school subjects. Powerful Knowledge refers to discipline-based knowledge, which can improve an individual’s abilities to handle life challenges in fundamental ways. Students come to school with experiences that can be defined as everyday knowledge, created in different situations. Powerful Knowledge, on the other hand, communicated in subjects and disciplines, consists of concepts that can be used in different contexts. The focus of the ROSE research programme is the fact that there is a potentially rewarding field of tension between disciplinary perspectives and students’ everyday knowledge, and on the basis of Powerful Knowledge we intend to explore and clarify the knowledge aspects of the content that teaching should aim towards and students be given the opportunity to learn. We study knowledge, subject and teaching content in the intersection between academic discipline and school subject, considered in relation to the societal disparate conceptions of what a school subject should be.
The purpose of the research programme
The purpose of the research programme is to enhance how knowledge is selected and shaped into a subject and teaching content for teachers and students in relation to different transformation processes. This involves studying the transformation process as such, as well as the products of the process.