Problematizing Group Work in Education: A Genealogical and Qualitative Analysis of Displaced Elements

Aktivitet: Tale eller præsentation - typerForedrag og mundtlige bidrag

Gerd Christensen - Foredragsholder

Outline: This presentation draws upon the work of Michel Foucault to investigate assumptions made about group work as part of project studies in formal education. Project studies refer to certain patterns for studying that have similarities with Problem Based Learning, but with a larger emphasis on an interdisciplinary choice of topic and the student’s own responsibility for the process of learning. In Denmark, group work is considered an integrated and important part of conducting project studies, which are widely used in most educational settings, from primary school to the university and in life-long learning.

The presentation first differentiates group work in project studies from other pedagogical forms by offering a genealogy of the practice, which means tracing the concept of groups in project studies back to its source (Herkunft) or ‘origin’. Here, three ‘branches’ or ‘sources’ of groups in project studies are identified: progressive pedagogy from the beginning of the 20th Century; social psychology and small-group research which had its golden age around the 1950s, and finally a Marxist critical pedagogy which had a great impact in the Danish educational system in the 1970s. In this process, certain aspects that seemed to have been forgotten over time are identified, including the difficulties that group work raises e.g., that groups are not only a supportive environment for personal growth but also a setting for all kinds of power struggles and mechanisms of exclusion.

In the second part of the presentation, a qualitative case study of how students in todays project studies are managing the group work at two Danish universities is analyzed. This layer is inspired by Foucault’s concept of subjectification as a result of (productive, discursive, not-possessed) power. This involves a consideration of what it means to become a student at a group-oriented university and an analysis of which possibilities for subjectification students constructed for each other. The ‘displaced elements’ that the genealogy reveals, such as possible forms of exclusion and stereotyping among students group work practices, will be considered here via the qualitative research case study.

The presentation will conclude with some consideration of the results of the genealogical and qualitative analyses in regard to Foucaultian analytics and consider the different kinds of ‘empirical data’ entailed in research projects.

Gæsteforelæsning, University of Wisconsin, Madison
7 okt. 2014

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  • Gruppearbejde, projektpædagogik, Michel Foucault, subjektivering og eksklusionsmekanismer

ID: 128336495