Tonårsflickor berättar om att vara eller inte vara i behov av särskilt stöd : En longitudinell fallstudie

Sammanfattning: The aim of this thesis was to describe teenage girls’ experiences and perceptions of participation and influence during learning processes. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the view that children are social actors with their own agency were central to the study. The girls, who were 13 years old when the study began, and 16 when it ended, were interviewed once per semester for three years. Classroom observations formed the basis of the interviews, which provided insight into the learning environment and its working methods. These, in turn, were discussed during the interviews. Nine girls were selected through the IEPs that the school had established for them. They attended regular classes for most of the school day, but received at least one session of special education in smaller groups each week. Their special needs were due to reading and writing difficulties. All of them received special support in English, while seven of the girls also received special support in mathematics. The girls described current events in their life, regarding both school and their spare time, as well as their thoughts about the future, and how efforts to accommodate their special educational needs have affected their schooling. In addition to the girls’ narratives, the IEPs and grades provided the school’s narrative about the girls. The theoretical basis of the thesis comprises cultural-historical ideas of teaching and learning, and the importance of relationships to group-based learning. Descriptive qualitative analyses were based on the teenage girls’ narratives and resulted in five themes; a sixth theme discussed the school’s assessment of the girls through the IEPs and their grades from lower secondary school. Feeling included or not in the group was the overarching theme of all the stories, which involved the girls’ perceptions of how they were treated by the people around them. The results indicate that the girls needed to have instructions repeated to them. There was also a need for continuous encouragement and affirmation in order for them to dare to take on assignments. When it came to collaborative learning together with classmates, the girls preferred to hide their perceived weaknesses, which only made them more dependent on the teacher’s aid. In addition, the girls felt that the teachers were unhappy with the way they handled their school work, and felt overlooked rather than “seen”. In both the stories and the IEPs, concentration difficulties were highlighted as a consistent problem. The analyses show that it is not possible to speak of concentration difficulties without further specification. Since the girls also explained that they were able to maintain concentration, it is necessary to identify which conditions allow pupils to maintain their skills, and when these skills are lost. One finding was that experiences of playing sports created unexpected development opportunities for performing under pressure, even in test situations. According to the girls, visual strengths could compensate for difficulties remembering comprehensive information. The teaching provided opportunities to demonstrate an understanding of facts through visual expression, but creative elements were not included in graded assessments. The study shows that the girls’ leisure-time experiences created opportunities for generalisation regarding learning strategies in school situations.