Changing Our Methods and Disrupting the Power Dynamics: National Tests in Third-Grade Classrooms

Eva Silfver, Gunnar Sjöberg, Anette Bagger


This article reports on a research project relating to the newly implemented mandatory Swedish national mathematics tests for third-grade students (nine and ten years old). The project’s main research concerns the students’ ideas about and reactions toward these tests and how the specific test situation affects their perception of their own mathematical proficiency. Drawing on theories that suggest identities are more fluid than static, we want to understand how students with special needs are “created.” The specific aim of this article is to discuss how our research methods have been refined during the various phases of data collection and report on the resulting implications. It discusses issues surrounding child research and how methods involving video recording and video stimulated recall dialogue (VSRD) can contribute to research on children’s experiences. Particular attention is given to methodological and ethical issues and how to disrupt power relations. In this article, we argue that the context of the test situation not only impacted upon the students but also affected how we changed, developed, and adapted our approaches as the project evolved.

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