Access and Positioning

Publikation: Konferencebidrag uden forlag/tidsskriftKonferenceabstrakt til konferenceForskningpeer review


It is mandatory for teachers at upper secondary education in Denmark to attend a pedagogical course. While teaching at vocational or general upper secondary education, new teachers are attending a course to become professional. This is the type of adult education focused on in this paper, which aims to discuss and to get knowledge about adults’ behaviour and thoughts during such teacher training courses. How do they participate in the activities in the classroom, how do they seem to be prepared and what are they doing on the computer? How do the teachers explain and reflect on their actions? The purpose is also, based on empirical data, to analyse and discuss how different researcher positions in ethnographic fieldwork - varying between total observer and observer-as-participant as well as varying in roles and access differs in contexts. This gives different challenges to gaining knowledge of teachers’ perspectives on mandatory teacher training courses.

The paper is based on data from two different contexts. One is from an ethnographic study of vocational teachers training course that includes data from observations from the course, teachers teaching at vocational colleges and focus group interview and interview. Data are collected from 2014 to 2017. The other study is from the course designed for teachers at the Danish gymnasium and data is collected spring 2016. It includes data from observations at the course and focus group interviews.
The observations are constructed and analysed to provide different examples of interaction and roles concerning the observer and the observed adults. The analyses are presented in three sections. The first section gives examples from both studies where the position of the observer is `total observer´. The second section present an example where the observer at the teacher training course for teachers at the gymnasium is partly participating and the last section present an example from the teacher training course for vocational teachers. The position in the fieldwork is in this analyse observer-as-participant.
The theoretical point of departure is Bourdieu’s standpoint to objectivise the reacher’s position and Golds categories of roles in field observations (Gold, 1958; Bourdieu, 1996).

The findings show that different roles as observer contributes to different knowledge formations about adults’ participation in adult education. Some aspects of adult education appear to the researcher when the role is a total observer; this is for example the wider context of the course and the adult behaviour. On the other hand, the role as an observer-as-participant gives an insider perspective of adults’ meaning making of the time spend in adult education. In one example, this raises additional ethical dilemmas about publishing data.

Contribution to education/ethnography:
Doing educational ethnography in adult education poses particular challenges as to obtain access and pursue research interests in knowledge and understanding of adult action in adult education from and outsider and insider perspective. This can be useful for ethnographic researchers in the field of adult education. The methodological contribution is a further understanding of the interaction, roles and relations in adult education fieldwork.

Bourdieu, P. (1996). Refleksiv sociologi: mål og midler. København: Hans Reitzel.
Gold, R. L. (1958). Roles in sociological field observations. Social Forces, 36(3), 217–223
StatusUdgivet - 2018
BegivenhedThe oxford Ethnography Conference - Oxford, Storbritannien
Varighed: 18 sep. 2018 → …


KonferenceThe oxford Ethnography Conference
Periode18/09/2018 → …


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