Disciplined by tests
Gunnar Sjöberg and Eva Silfver, Anette Bagger
This article reports on a Swedish research project on the reintroduction of national tests in mathematics for nine- to ten-year-old pupils. Data were collected over a period of three years (2010–2012) by video recording test situations in different classrooms and by conducting video-stimulated recall interviews with children. The aim is to explore and analyse the testing situation and how it creates different positions for children. We conclude that discourses of testing, caring and competition, sometimes strengthening and sometimes shadowing each other and thereby, produce knowledge in children about success and failure in mathematics, positioning children as ”winners” or ”losers”. The tests are interpreted as a technology – a form of disciplinary power that functions at the level of the body (Foucault, 1980).
Gunnar Sjöberg is senior lecturer at the Department of science and mathematics education at Umeå University and also teaches in the compulsory school. His research interests concerns special needs issues in mathematics education and the development of special needs education.
Eva Silfver is senior lecturer at the Department of science and mathematics education at Umeå University. Her research interests concerns special needs education and gender issues in mathematics and science education.
Anette Bagger is a doctoral student at the Department of science and mathematics education at Umeå University. Her research interests concerns special needs education in mathematics.