Participation of students in student-centred education at elementary levels.

Didrik Jón Kristófersson has been around and is an educated graphic designer, illustrator, fine artist and a martial artist. He is at home in most creative endeavours; yet focused mainly on creation of visual art and extreme metal music when his mind is not occupied by psychological and sociological aspects of philosophy and epistemology.
Beginning his study at the Visual Arts Education department at the Icelandic Academy of the Arts, Diðrik soon became possessed by philosophical ideas of democracy, justice and autonomy of the individual in nowadays society.
His belief that the fundaments of society are created in the schools demanded a closer look, with an almost Marxist eye of Critical theory and pedagogy, to determine the relationship between the autocratic organisation of education and the position of the student.
The project focused on the student as an individual and how he handles the kind of responsibility that accompanies the freedom to govern his own working methods and choices in creative education.
A seven week research period was conducted at Garðaskóli in Garðabær during spring, 2017 where ten students were tested and coerced to create their own direction of study in digital art-class. Additionally, emphasis was placed on maintaining a comfortable and dialogical atmosphere where progressive ideas on knowledge gathering and sharing were implemented.
Collected data on students’ accomplishments and opinions were eventually compared to the author’s action research, resource material and interviews with educational specialists in an attempt to draw a picture of student-centred education as well as pupils’ possibilities to participate in its implementation and development.
The conclusions were akin to those of other research outcomes – national and international – and poised to question students’ involvement in a process that is set to ensure their participation and freedom of choice towards personal aspirations in their education.


On the thesis

This thesis, worth 20 ECTS and made to completion of a M.Art.Ed diploma at the Icelandic Academy of the Arts, is built partially as a research project with the purpose of studying the development of student-centred learning in national primary schools. History, development and future prospects of applicable methods and theories in education will be emphasized, for the sake of comparison to common pedagogical approaches in Iceland.
A venture to Garðaskóli school in the town of Garðabær saw the testing of student-centred methods in eigth grade Digital Art-class for the duration of seven weeks in the spring semester of 2017. Additional results were acquired during the author’s work as a homeroom teacher at the Reykjavík International School in Grafarvogur, Reykjavík, alongside use of further research material gathered at various teaching-assignments during the author’s MA study at the Icelandic Academy of the Arts in 2015/2016.
Experienced, educational specialists were interviewed and the results compared with numerous resources alongside particular findings from the author’s action-research documentation during the aforementioned research tasks and work: The main purpose was to further establish ideas on the effects of student-centred learning on learning outcomes and condition of students in primary schools, but – in addition – discover whether the well-being of students is in fact ensured by student-centred education and the application of changes that are sure to follow the implementation of such epistemological practices.
Yet despite increased augmentation of work procedures and premises, a direct connection to the students seems to be amiss as they have in-so-far had little to do with the organization or change in education and/or educational establishment.
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Advisor: Ingimar Ólafsson Waage