Student Participation in Activities with Influential Outcomes: Issues of Gender, Individuality and Collective Thinking in Swedish Secondary Schools

From Section:
Multiculturalism & Diversity
May. 21, 2010

Source: European Educational Research Journal, Volume 9 Number 2, (2010). p. 208-219.

Drawing on a study in three Swedish lower secondary schools, this article examines how students engaged in the democratic processes involved in the formation of an action group intended to influence their school by making it more environmentally friendly.

The goal of this article is to acquire greater understanding of influential processes in relation to gender and both individualistically and collectively oriented ideas.
These ideas include understanding of which students participate in such groups, the role gender plays in the likelihood of a student participating, how they act, and their experiences of participation.

Data were collected through observations and interviews with four participants.

Findings reveal that girls were found both to be more active participants and to have more positive experiences than boys.

It is concluded that the group represents an arena for both individual and collective performance in which both individual and collective ideas are reflected.
However, differences in the expectations of boys and girls, concerning where and how they feel they should act and perform in school, seems to make the arena more suitable and more effective for girls than boys. While the girls’ participation provided them with political confidence, the two participating boys did not gain this from the experience.

Updated: Jan. 17, 2017
Gender | Secondary schools | Social action | Student attitudes | Students’ participation