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Discourses of Including Students with Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties (EBD) in Swedish Mainstream Schools
Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Education.
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

When students’ behaviours cause difficulties for their teachers, themselves, and the rest of the class, teachers often construct inclusion as problematic. The overall aim of this study was to contribute to the understanding of teachers’ discourses regarding inclusion of students with emotional and behavioural difficulties (EBD) in Swedish mainstream schools. The sample of empirical data collected for articles II–IV was derived from focus group interviews of 5–8 mainstream teachers in grades 4–6 in 6 different schools. Article I is a research synthesis on 15 studies that feature the attitudes of teachers from 15 different countries. It frames the entire thesis by examining how teachers perceive students with EBD from other countries, cultures, and times. In this study, neither inclusion nor EBD are said to be so much objectively “real” as socially produced and can be regarded as social constructs. An approach of discourse theory that takes inspiration from Laclau and Mouffe (1985) is applied in articles II–III and is complemented with constructionist thematic analysis. The results revealed that teachers construct meaning and understanding of students in relation to their everyday professional missions in the classroom. Discourses about successfully including students with EBD face problem fixing their meaning as they require new and other types of resources as well as other time distributions, teachers, curricula, and classrooms. The teachers’ discourses revealed a clear gap between policy and practice in the Swedish education system. Discourses that were pragmatic based on everyday reality of the school overpowered the discourses of ensuring equal opportunities for all students and the celebration of diversity. When the wordings of the Swedish steering documents are arbitrary and interpreted differently among various actors within Swedish schools, the teachers feel insecurity, frustration, and inadequacy. Inclusion of students with EBD is a complex and complicated matter that the teachers do not feel competent enough to fully handle. They revealed their frustration with being expected to do something that cannot be done due to practical and economic reasons. When teachers experience failure and dissatisfaction with specific teaching situations, they construct discourses that justify and legitimize that failure. These discourses inevitably have consequences for how the teachers understand and organize their everyday teacher missions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sundsvall: Mid Sweden University , 2018. , p. 88
Series
Mid Sweden University doctoral thesis, ISSN 1652-893X ; 276
Keyword [en]
emotional and behavioural difficulties, focus group interviews, inclusion, inclusive didactics, Laclau and Mouffe’s discourse theory, mainstream schools, teachers’ discourses
National Category
Educational Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-32748ISBN: 978-91-88527-40-0 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:miun-32748DiVA: diva2:1177809
Public defence
2018-02-23, E409, Sundsvall, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

Vid tidpunkten för disputationen var följande delarbete opublicerat: delarbete 1 inskickat.

At the time of the doctoral defence the following paper was unpublished: paper 1 submitted.

Available from: 2018-01-26 Created: 2018-01-26 Last updated: 2018-01-26Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Teachers’ attitudes towards including students with emotional and behavioural difficulties in mainstream school: A systematic research synthesis
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Teachers’ attitudes towards including students with emotional and behavioural difficulties in mainstream school: A systematic research synthesis
(English)In: Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
National Category
Educational Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-32747 (URN)
Available from: 2018-01-26 Created: 2018-01-26 Last updated: 2018-01-26Bibliographically approved
2. Teachers’ understanding of Emotional and Behavioral Difficulties (EBD) in Sweden.: What is the problem?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Teachers’ understanding of Emotional and Behavioral Difficulties (EBD) in Sweden.: What is the problem?
2017 (English)In: Pædagogisk Psykologisk Tidsskrift, ISSN 1903-0002, E-ISSN 1903-6906, Vol. 54, no 05/06, p. 152-166Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Emotional and Behavioral Difficulties (EBD) is an imprecise term difficult to define because it represents a continuum of behavior that challenges teachers. EBD is a subjectively perceived disorder rather than an objective. The purpose of this article is to contribute to the understanding of how some teachers in mainstream schools construct meaning of EBD. The theoretical framework is Discourse Theory (Laclau & Mouffe, 1985). The findings show that the prevailing discourses about students’ EBD focus on students being disturbing and disrespectful or introverted—and thus deviant. Antagonistic discourses face problems being accepted and are strongly and rapidly dismissed because of their described impossibility and insolubility. This article is a step toward an understanding of what limitations the prevailing discourses have in order to contribute to social change, leading to more equal power relations in schools, and it will also contribute to the international debate about schools categorizing students’ disorders and difficulties.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Köpenhamn: , 2017
Keyword
emotional and behavioral difficulties, collective identity, teachers’ understanding, discourse analysis
National Category
Social Sciences Pedagogy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-32428 (URN)
Available from: 2017-12-13 Created: 2017-12-13 Last updated: 2018-01-26Bibliographically approved
3. Why teachers find it difficult to include students with EBD in mainstream classes
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Why teachers find it difficult to include students with EBD in mainstream classes
2017 (English)In: International Journal of Inclusive Education, ISSN 1360-3116, E-ISSN 1464-5173Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

In Sweden, teachers in mainstream schools show frustration and insecurity about how to organise education for inclusion and diversity. This article contributes to the understanding of how they articulate their view of the advantages and disadvantages of including students with EBD in mainstream classes. To study teachers’ understanding, an approach of discourse theory which takes inspiration from Laclau and Mouffe (1985. Hegemony and Socialist Strategy. London: Verso) was applied. The empirical material consisted of 6 focus group interviews and 37 individual interviews based on stimulus texts. According to the results, the prevailing discourses focused on the disadvantages of it. However, they were articulated differently and filled with meaning mainly by three recurring nodal points: (1) problems, (2) dilemmas and (3) impossibility. The advantages of including students with EBD in mainstream classes were only to be found in the antagonistic discourses. They were articulated in different ways but were overpowered by others and therefore failed to fix the meaning. The overall conclusion is that teachers base their understanding on both their experiences and on the policy of the Educational Act, but the pragmatic discourse of the disadvantages was hegemonic to the ideological antagonistic discourse of the advantages.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
London: Taylor & Francis Group, 2017
Keyword
Emotional and behavioural difficulties; inclusion; Laclau and Mouffe’s discourse theory; mainstream classes; teachers’ understanding
National Category
Pedagogy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-32434 (URN)10.1080/13603116.2017.1370739 (DOI)
Available from: 2017-12-13 Created: 2017-12-13 Last updated: 2018-01-26Bibliographically approved
4. What is Inclusive Didactics?: Teachers´Understanding of Inclusive Didactics for Students with EBD in Swedish Mainstream Schools.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>What is Inclusive Didactics?: Teachers´Understanding of Inclusive Didactics for Students with EBD in Swedish Mainstream Schools.
2017 (English)In: International Education Studies, ISSN 1913-9020, E-ISSN 1913-9039, Vol. 10, no 5, p. 87-99Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Including students with emotional and behavioral difficulties (EBD) in general education is one of teachers’ greatest challenges and make the dilemma of inclusion displays its most difficult side. This article contributes to the understanding of how teachers in Swedish mainstream schools understand the concept of inclusive didactics for students with EBD. This article employs a directed qualitative content analysis supplemented with descriptive statistics related to the categories of inclusive didactics. Didactic theory was the basis of the predefined categories by which the analysis was completed. Empirical data were collected through 6 focus-group interviews and 37 individual follow-up interviews. The findings indicate that three didactic aspects were dominant in teachers’ understanding of inclusive didactics: Student(s), Methods, and Teacher. Less accentuated were Subject, Rhetoric and Interaction. Thus these teachers’ understanding and previous research is not consistent. The overall conclusion is that the concept of inclusive didactics is complex, complicated, and difficult for teachers to relate to. The descriptions are both vague and simplistic and therefore difficult for teachers to implement. This article clearly highlights that teachers often feel frustrated and inadequate, and blame themselves for the students’ deficiency and failure, thus concluding that strategies for distinct descriptions and teacher practices are needed.

Keyword
emotional and behavioral difficulties (EBD), inclusion, inclusive didactics, mainstream schools, teachers’ understanding, qualitative content analysis
National Category
Didactics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-31942 (URN)10.5539/ies.v10n5p87 (DOI)
Available from: 2017-10-23 Created: 2017-10-23 Last updated: 2018-01-26Bibliographically approved

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