Abstract: This article presents two quantitative studies examining the influences of the Corona pandemic for home schooling in Germany. Subsequently, the first impulses for a more profound qualitative oriented educational research should be given. In this way, this article attempts to identify the possibilities and limits of qualitative educational research, as was painfully demonstrated by the “ad hoc” interests of society in the example of the Corona pandemic. The article thus poses the overarching question of what contribution qualitative educational research can make for a better understanding of the consequences – the social in general and the educational in particular – the pandemic causes. Categories as sensitizing concepts emerging from the studies are presented: learning time and time regimes; feedback and support services; as well as the maintenance of communicative and pedagogical components of teaching in digital formats in terms of educational theory. We would like to invite the reader to methodologically discuss these categories in order to think further.
Keywords: educational science research, home schooling, Corona Pandemic, qualitative research, sensitizing concepts, general pedagogy
摘要 (法比安·慕斯泰尔 & 玛利亚·康德拉秋克: 新冠状病毒大流行引起的关于家庭教育研究的方法论视角 – 邀请读者展开进一步的思考）: 本文提供了两项定量研究，它们检验了新冠状病毒大流行对德国家庭教育的影响。随后，为了进行一项更加深入的定性教育研究应首先被给予一些动力。通过这种方式，本文试图明确定性教育研究的可能性和局限性，正如在新冠状病毒大流行的例子中，社会的“临时”利益所不幸地被阐释的那样。因此，本文提出了一个总体问题，即定性教育研究可以为更好理解病毒大流行的后果（即在社会方面，特别是教育方面）做出哪些贡献。在研究中作为敏感概念出现的一些类别被介绍：学习时间和时间制度；反馈和支持服务；以及根据教育理论在维护数字形式的教学中的交流及教育组成部分。我们希望邀请读者在方法上讨论这些类别，以便进行进一步的思考。
关键词 : 教育科学研究，家庭教育，新冠状病毒大流行，定性研究，敏感概念，一般教学法
摘要 （法比安 · 慕斯泰爾 & 瑪利亞 · 康德拉秋克: 新冠狀病毒大流行引起的關於家庭教育研究的方法論視角 – 邀請讀者展開進一步的思考）: 提供了兩項定量研究，它們檢驗了新冠狀病毒大流行對德國家庭教育的影響。隨後，為了進行一項更加深入的定性教育研究應首先被給予一些動力。通過這種方式，本文試圖明確定性教育研究的可能性和局限性，正如在新冠狀病毒大流行的例子中，社會的“臨時”利益所不幸地被闡釋的那樣。因此，本文提出了一個總體問題，即定性教育研究可以為更好地理解病毒大流行的後果（即在社會方面，特別是教育方面）做出哪些貢獻。在研究中作為敏感概念出現的一些類別被介紹：學習時間和時間制度；反饋和支持服務； 以及根據教育理論在維護數字形式的教學中的交流及教育組成部分。我們希望邀請讀者在方法上討論這些類別，以便進行進一步的思考。
關鍵詞 : 教育科學研究，家庭教育，新冠狀病毒大流行，定性研究，敏感概念，一般教學法
Zusammenfassung (Fabian Mußél & Maria Kondratjuk: Methodische Perspektiven zur Erforschung des Homeschooling aufgrund der Corona-Pandemie: Eine Einladung zum Weiterdenken): Dieser Artikel stellt zwei quantitative Studien vor, die die Einflüsse der Corona-Pandemie auf den Heimunterricht (Homeschooling) in Deutschland untersuchen. Im Anschluss daran sollen erste Impulse für eine vertiefte qualitativ orientierte Bildungsforschung gegeben werden. Auf diese Weise versucht dieser Artikel, die Möglichkeiten und Grenzen qualitativer Bildungsforschung aufzuzeigen, wie die “ad hoc”-Interessen der Gesellschaft am Beispiel der Corona-Pandemie schmerzlich gezeigt haben. Der Artikel stellt damit die übergreifende Frage, welchen Beitrag qualitative Bildungsforschung zum besseren Verständnis der Folgen der Pandemieursachen leisten kann, sowohl aus allgemein-sozialer als auch und besonders pädagogischer Sicht leisten kann. Kategorien als sensibilisierende Konzepte, die aus den Studien hervorgehen, werden vorgestellt: Lernzeit und Zeitregime; Feedback- und Unterstützungsleistungen sowie die bildungstheoretische Pflege der kommunikativen und pädagogischen Komponenten des Unterrichts in digitalen Formaten. Wir möchten die Leserinnen und Leser einladen, diese Kategorien methodisch zu diskutieren, um weiter zu denken.
Schlüsselwörter: erziehungswissenschaftliche Forschung, Homeschooling, Corona Pandemie, qualitative Forschung, Sensibilisierungskonzepte, allgemeine Pädagogik
Резюме (Фабиан Мусель & Мария Кондратюк: Методические перспективы исследования формата домашнего обучения на фоне пандемии – Приглашение к размышлению): В данной статье представлены результаты двух квантитативных исследований, которые проводились с целью изучения влияния коронавирусной пандемии на домашнее обучение в Германии. На этой основе закладываются первые импульсы для проведения более фундированного исследования образовательного дискурса, теперь уже с применением качественных методик анализа. Т. о. в статье предпринимается попытка очертить возможности и границы квалитативных исследований, как это уже отобразилось на особых интересах общества в связи с пандемией. В статье поднимается генеральный вопрос относительно того, какой вклад квалитативные исследования вносят для лучшего понимания последствий пандемии – как в общесоциальной, так и отдельной, педагогической перспективе. Представляются категории, выявленные в ходе исследования: концепции по сенсибилизации, учебное время, временной режим, обратная связь, меры поддержки, образовательно-теоретическое сопровождение коммуникативных и педагогических компонентов урочной деятельности в цифровых форматах. Авторы хотели бы пригласить читателей обсудить эти категории в методическом ключе и обозначить проблематику на перспективу.
Ключевые слова: научные исследования в области образования, домашнее обучение, пандемия коронавируса, квалитативные исследования, концепции по сенсибилизации, общая педагогика
As a result of the dynamics of the Corona pandemic which could not be foreseen in February 2020, schools in Germany were closed between March and April, and pupils were released into home learning – with the exception of a few emergency regulations. Such prescribed home schooling, which is intended to maintain the social educational function (Hummrich, 2020, p.1) and compulsory schooling, is unprecedented in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany and thus of the highest interest for educational research. At present, there is growing evidence of a normalisation of regular teaching at school for the school year 2020/21. Several publications on the topic of pandemic and education use different terms such as “home schooling” and/or “distance learning”, which makes it clear that the situation cannot be fully attributed to the pandemic in any of these concepts.
In this respect, the established terms distance learning and homeschooling are often used. However, when referring to what replaced classroom teaching, the terms “embarrassing”, “crisis”, or “substitute teaching” are more appropriate, as the terms “distance learning” and “homeschooling” do not apply (Schratz, 2020, p. 34).
This distinction is not trivial, as concepts such as distance learning, primary in Higher Education (especially in Continuing Higher Education) are established forms of teaching and learning formats such as didacticts, learning environments, technical support, use of information technology, etc.. The curricular and didactic conception of these forms of intermediation are coordinated in advance. In the case of necessary school closures, this is not the case; neither parents and pupils nor the teachers were prepared for such a situation. Therefore, the new situation was associated with fears of failure and hopes of success, which were initially often taken up in the media. Hopes for an effect were, for example, that learning would be more flexible in terms of time and not subject to the rhythm of school organisation, and also the assumption that distance learning would promote “backward digitization” (Hummrich, 2020, p. 2). On the other hand, there are fears that social inequalities would increase (e.g. Hurrelmann, & Dohmen, 2020) between pupils with better socioculturally backgrounds (with their own room, the necessary digital infrastructure and an appropriate support system by the parents/guardians) and pupils who cannot fall back on such support resources – currently discussed as “digital divide” (e.g. Kohlrausch, 2020). This is precisely where the contribution comes in: Within the framework of a secondary analysis, two empirical studies from German classroom research are presented and their results are examined with regard to the articulation of potential spaces and hopes for effect, as well as obstacles and fears. The aim is to work out possible connections for further qualitative questions in educational science. In the second chapter of this article, we outline the “problem areas” of qualitative research which, in our opinion, are rooted in the basic theoretical and research-ethical premises of qualitative research. The thesis is that “ad hoc” research on the scope of possibilities and hopes for effects, as well as obstacles and fears, is hardly possible in the context of the Corona crisis and that this may result in a recession of qualitative research projects. In the third chapter, two studies are presented which were carried out directly during the phase of compulsory distance learning and which are taken up in sense as an offer to think further. This can also be understood as a positioning on our part, as it also makes it clear that we are not concerned with saving the honour of qualitative research to the detriment of quantitative research efforts. Rather, the logical interlocking of different research procedures is to be presented here as an example and suggestions for further research procedures made. In the fourth chapter, an ambitious attempt will then be made to derive points of departure from the descriptions in the articles on the studies presented and to develop them further in terms of education theory and with reference to methodological considerations.
Qualitative Educational Research and its Problem Areas
Whatever methods of the arsenal of qualitative research which are examined, it is always a matter of a “collective-sociobiographical course of events” with its hurdles and obstacles. Qualitative research efforts are therefore always aimed at understanding how the social subject area that is of sociological interest and therefore focused on in each case functions (or does not function) in a specific social world. The knowledge horizon of qualitative research is social action.
This is the best way to summarise the credo of qualitative research following the frequently cited quotationi:
Only the actions of the individual and their intended meaning can be understood, and only by interpreting individual actions can the social sciences gain access to the interpretation of those social relationships and structures that are constituted in the actions of the individual actors in the social world (Schütze, 2004, p. 86).
Certainly, a long period of structural-functionalist theory-building and methodological differentiation has diverted interest from action to the structures underlying it, but the subject area of qualitative research has always been the same. This is not to say that the necessary distinctions between different basic theories and corresponding methodological differentiations are not taken into account here; on the contrary, they are part of the establishment of qualitative research undertakings. Only at the end of every qualitative project it must be possible to answer the question: “What is the social?”
With these very general, but widely accepted discussions, the question must now be asked which contribution qualitative educational research can make in the context of such scenarios as we find within the Corona pandemic. There is considerable societal interest in the consequences of school closures due to the pandemic. An interest that qualitative research cannot easily satisfy – especially without having a shortening effect on the subject areas already mentioned above. Some thoughts on this will be presented in the following.
The exploration of social worldsii and the (negotiation) processes to be found in them are as unknown to the sociological observer at the beginning of his research activity as they are to the majority of the members of society themselves. Research in which researchers are only equipped with rudimentary prior knowledge of the subject area must first laboriously and successively draw on the social knowledge, cultural rules and practices of a foreign social world in the empirical field. More difficult still, the subjects themselves must first generate a kind of understanding of meaning through the subject area, which the researchers can then access reconstructively. This contradicts an operationalisation of central concepts and variables in the form of standardised items, which would have to take place before the data were collected. However, the restriction of empirical social research to the use of highly standardised data means that qualitative field research has at best a modest role to play in empirical preliminary studies to explore the terrain, a procedure that hardly does justice to the time and labour resources required for a qualitative field study (Kelle, 2008, p. 29). Qualitative social research in educational science is then faced with the problem that the subject area must first be framed in terms of educational theory. Marotzki stresses that it is the categories of a person that change in the educational process. Categories can first be understood as the structuring of a multiplicity under one term or concept (1990, p. 41f.). It is only through this categorisation that the manifold and confusing world is ordered by the subjects. As a second suggestion, the concept of figures is to be used, which Kokemohr places at the centre of his considerations.
Rhetorical figures or means are the subject that is analysed. In doing so, he refers on the one hand to ancient rhetoric and on the other hand to modern concepts that emphasize everyday rhetoric (2007, p. 38f). If qualitative social research in the field of educational science examines educational processes, it looks for transformations of basic figures or categories of the world and self relationshipiii. In the literature, the objects of investigation are understood as variations of “Having Become”, i.e. different potentials for development due to different milieus, life plans or other social formation conditions. This view is a specific one and cannot be taken ad hoc. Qualitative educational research turns retrospectively to its subject. In summary, this becomes a problem, which is why qualitative educational research can make use of the support of quantitative research. It needs snapshots of situations, which it incorporates in its research and evaluation. This is where quantitative methods have their undisputed strengths. Similar to the positivist paradigm, they create a laboratory situation, structure a social world through the items, which can explicate and document clear impressions of experiences, motivations, motives and assessments, wishes and ideas.
In a pragmatic manner, Jo Reichertz (2020) also pointed out the danger that the qualitative research style as a whole – in the areas of data collection in the field and its evaluation in research workshops and informal discussions – could be at risk as a result of the Corona pandemic. From an epistemological perspective, he asks: “How will data collection (digital, online) change in the short to medium term and what consequences does contactlessness have for the quality of research?” (2020, n. pag). We cannot take such a forward-looking view at this point, but it should be borne in mind that qualitative research will not be possible in the near future without methodological and thus possibly unfamiliar adaptation.
So what should be taken along in summary? Qualitative educational research is involuntarily faced with the challenge of participating in some way in the scientific processing of the pandemic. Otherwise it could lose its status. To this end, scientists in the field of education should pay particular attention now to the expected large number of studies, as presented below.
Examining Home Schooling during Corona Pandemic: Commented Results of two Quantitative Studies
The article by Wacker et al. (2020) reports findings of a survey of pupils from Baden-Württemberg (N = 169) on the first phase of “distance learning”iv, in which learners were asked about their working hours, communication procedures between school and home, feedback from teachers, and the advantages and disadvantages of home schooling. The results point to various advantages and disadvantages of “distance learning” and suggest a large variance in (digital) communication and feedback channels. In addition, the answers describe the pupils’ desire for more communicative situations in the digital processes. The aim of the study was to obtain information on the hopes and fears of distance learning from the pupils’ point of view by means of an interview study with mostly open questions. The overarching research question was: “What hopes and fears do pupils from different school types express with regard to distance learning?” (ibid., p. 81). To answer the question, learners of all ages and school types from many different individual schools were interviewed to enable conclusions to be drawn about different practices. Specifically, the following aspects were asked: communication from school to home (or to the pupils and back), the daily working time of the pupils feedback from teachers, the advantages and disadvantages from the learners’ point of view and their wishes for further phases of distance learning. The survey is an online study which was made available to the students electronicallyv. Sociodemographic data was not collected by the researchers due to this procedure. At the time of the survey, the pupils had completed the first phase of school closures from mid-March to the Easter holidays. The aim of the survey was to achieve the greatest possible social heterogeneity and “in some cases [the researchers] also visited pupils with little digital equipment personally in order to generate data from as many socio- economic strata as possible and to avoid distortions as far as possible” (ibid., p. 82), but the researchers indicate that – despite all efforts – this was not successful and that there is a distortion of the socio-demographic characteristics of the pupils. Nevertheless, all school types in the Baden-Württemberg education system are represented in the sample. It contains answers from 169 pupils, ranging from primary school to secondary school to the vocational school system and in some cases extending beyond Baden-Württemberg. The data set has a higher number of older students than younger students, especially from general education and vocational upper secondary schools.
The assessments of the students, which were available for each of the open questions, were evaluated in terms of content analysis, both “qualitatively in terms of their breadth and depth and quantitatively in terms of their frequency” (ibid., p. 83). In the methodological discussion of the procedure, the authors of the article omit an explanation of the extent to which the interest in knowledge and the survey method fit together and which evaluation procedures were used. The impression for us is that the focus was on quantitative analyses in which overarching units of meaning were counted using frequency analyses.
Despite this methodological “irritation”, the article provides a well-founded picture of the perspectives on the scope of possibilities and hopes for effect, as well as obstacles and fears of pupils with regard to distance learning.
The central results and subsequent discussions of the paper can be presented as follows: The findings show a wide variance in the daily working time of the pupils, which, however, seems to be less than in school attendance. Although feedback is frequent, the comments of the pupils indicate a wide range here as well, from “always” to “after Corona”. The flexible organization of working time appears to be a major advantage that learners recognise in the new situation. However, the majority of responses cite disadvantages, including lack of communication, insufficient feedback and lack of support as the most important points. Learners would like to see more video conferencing and explanatory videos, more frequent feedback and better organisation of distance learning in the future. The authors interpret many contributions as a wish of the learners to maintain the communicative components of teaching also in distance learning (ibid., p. 92). An important and surprising finding is that there is little promotion of digitisation. This may be due to the items themselves that were discussed in the survey, but it can also be interpreted as an indication that the social debate on the digitisation of teaching is not taking place in the minds of learners. If this idea is taken further, the question would have to be asked what the subjective concept of digitisation is for schoolchildren. After all, they grow up as “digital natives” (Stahl, & Staab, 2019), certainly to varying degrees depending on their socio-economic positioning.
On the basis of an online survey of 3,995 mothers and fathers of primary school children, the article by Porsch, & Porsch (2020) entitled “Fernunterricht als Ausnahmesituation: Befunde einer bundesweiten Befragung von Eltern mit Kindern in der Grundschule” (Distance learning as an exceptional situation: findings of a nationwide survey of parents with children in primary school) examines the general question of how distance learning is initiated by teachers and organised by parents at home. In addition, it is shown to what extent the challenges of distance learning lead to individual experiences of stress, anxiety and enthusiasm on the part of parents and to what extent these differences can be explained by school support, the parents’ work situation and individual characteristics.
With regard to the initiation of distance learning by primary school teachers, the data of the study show that learning opportunities in the survey period are primarily related to the subjects German and mathematics. For two thirds of the children, tasks were provided for factual instruction. For other subjects, not all children were given tasks. The majority of the learning time spent was three hours or less per day. On the basis of the results, it can be deduced that learning takes place exclusively in the core subjects and to a lesser extent for the majority of primary school pupils compared with regular school attendance. The authors Porsch, & Porsch (2020) therefore understandably assume that the increase in learning is lower during this period. There are significant differences in the support behaviour of teachers, especially with regard to the regularity of contact. Many parents expressed their opinion on this in a final open question and wished for more intensive contact and more information on how to support their children. The technical equipment does not seem to be the reason for this. According to the authors of the article, almost all parents have Internet-capable devices at home. However, just as in the first presented study mentioned (Wacker et al., 2020), it is indicated that on socio-demographic data has been collected, only a limited statement can be made. Even the question of which parents participate in such a study can be answered with the assumption that deprived and marginalised social groups are hardly reached.
The study results of Porsch, & Porsch (2020) indicate that distance learning does not necessarily have to be demanding for parents. However, teachers must provide appropriate support for parents. Parents need manageable concepts with which they can instruct their children. The clarification of questions of understanding or feedback on learning tasks worked on, as well as the constant differentiation of learning offers are tasks that parents also see as the responsibility of teachers in distance learning. In this context, the authors raise the question of the quality of distance learning. From the point of view of many parents, the lack of or at least irregular contact with the school has required them to carry out activities which Porsch, & Porsch (2020) clearly see as the responsibility of teachers. Other quality features, such as the individual support of all pupils who are required to attend regular or attendance lessons, are also a commonly accepted means of assessing the quality of distance learning. According to Porsch, & Porsch (2020), the data which they collected “do not allow any conclusions to be drawn as to the extent to which distance learning has met these requirements during this period” (p. 75). Parents experience the situation differently and experience stress, fear, but also enthusiasm in distance learning. Particularly for a longer, possibly changing course of face-to-face and distance learning, these factors are of decisive importance for the parents’ staying power and thus for the maintenance of learning opportunities for the children.
Whether or not parents feel stressed depends on the support provided by the school, the parents’ assessment of their competences and the situation at home (number of school-age children and the work situation) among other things. If the school’s support is good in the parents’ assessment and if parents have competences in the core subjects, the stress is significantly lower – irrespective of the situation at home. Parents who have high self-efficacy expectations in the subjects German, mathematics and technical subjects tend to enjoy distance learning, regardless of the support services such as instructions for parent or use of online platforms. Parents with a high educational background in particular are less afraid of educational disadvantages for their children. This may be explained by the fact that these parents are more often convinced that they are in a position to provide their child with comprehensive learning support, according to the authors. The study also shows a potential of distance learning for the children’s learning and the relationship between parents and teachers: Many parents gained a deep insight into their children’s learning progress during distance learning and now know more about learning tasks and the actions of teachers. If there is an increased exchange between teachers and parents in the future, the children can be better supported from all sides at home and at school. In subsequent discussion, the authors suggest that this situation perhaps will provide an opportunity to implement more and more extended hybrid teaching concepts. Such concepts must go beyond the combination of face-to-face teaching and digital learning formats and presuppose pedagogical considerations as to what share of responsibility in the learning process pupils, teachers and parents can take on at what times. According to the authors, this requires not only flexible learning times but also a much stronger networking of the social learning environment through a greater degree of shared responsibility, comprehensive use of digital media and increased internal differentiation such as specific fostering of individual pupils or groups (ibid., p. 76).
Categories Emerged from the Presented Studies. Sensitising Concepts as Implications for Qualitative Research
The preceding collection of studies has multiple functions. On the one hand, of acknowledging research achievements already made on the subject of education and the Corona pandemic and, on the other hand, of working out connections for educational-scientific-social reconstructive procedures. To ensure that the methodological design of the work is reliable, readers are invited to gain a deeper insight into the work themselves. From the contributions of Porsch, & Porsch (2020) and Wacker et al. (2020), three points of departure can be developed for us, which will be presented and discussed from a methodological and educational-theoretical perspective in the following.
These three points are categories which derived as sensitizing concepts from the discussion of the results. The term “sensitising concepts” was originated with the late American sociologist Herbert Blumer (1954). He contrasted definitive concepts with sensitising concepts and explained, that
A definitive concept refers precisely to what is common to a class of objects, by the aid of a clear definition in terms of attributes or fixed bench marks […] A sensitizing concept lacks such specification of attributes or bench marks and consequently it does not enable the user to move directly to the instance and its relevant content. Instead, it gives the user a general sense of reference and guidance in approaching empirical instances. Whereas definitive concepts provide prescriptions of what to see, sensitizing concepts merely suggest directions along which to look (Blumer, 1954, p. 7).
Sociologist Kathy Charmaz (2003) indicated sensitising concepts as “those background ideas that inform the overall research problem” and stated further,
“Sensitizing concepts offer ways of seeing, organizing, and understanding experience; they are embedded in our disciplinary emphases and perspectival proclivities. Although sensitizing concepts may deepen perception, they provide starting points for building analysis, not ending points for evading it. We may use sensitizing concepts only as points of departure from which to study the data” (ibid., p. 259, emphasis in original).
Briefly summarized: the purpose of sensitising concepts is to frame your research heuristical through research knowledge and contextual knowledge as starting point of research. This “theoretical sensitivity” (Glaser, 1978) serves as key to the research field as “having insights as well as being turned into and being able to pick up relevant issues, events, and happenings during collection and analysis of the data” (Corbin, & Strauss, 2015, p. 78). In qualitative research this theoretical sensitivity is of high importance because it is understood as the “ability to generate concepts from data and to relate them according to normal models of theory in general” (Glaser with the assistance of Horton, 2004, para. 43).
Learning Time and Time Regime
The studies show that pupils learning time is decreasing, which means more flexible and independent time management for pupils. Teachers and pupils are the main actors in the teaching process. In terms of time, they are basically subject to an extreme dichotomy in their lives. Like no other area of life, school is characterised by a division of planned time and freely available time that lasts for many years and is, by its very nature, more or less constant. As far as general definitions of teaching time (number of lessons per school type and subject, subject canon, timetable, timetables, etc.) are concerned, the influences on this by teachers and pupils are roughly the same, i.e. they are relatively small. Teachers and pupils largely encounter pre-conceived, tested and proven state regulations within which they must and usually do find their own place, because – roughly speaking – this has been so common since the existence of public schools. This kind of understanding of time, the dependence on the clock, dominates our lives and is often lamented at the same time. Until today, “chronos” has been understood as the physically measurable time, the time indicated by clocks. This kind of understanding of time, the dependence on the clock, dominates our lives and is often lamented at the same time. “Kairos”, on the other hand, denotes that time which is of great value and personal sense to man, i.e. time which is, as it were, “fulfilled and not merely filled” or even completely “unfulfilled” (Kaustov, 2019, p. 56). With these two types of time and their relationship to each other, a further core problem can be identified, which the main actors in teaching and schools in general also have to deal with.
And in terms of the number of years? Pupils feel exactly what is fulfilled and what is just filled time for them. If they also consider time to be completely unfulfilled time, they drop out. The dropping out can range from disinterest and resignation to massive disruption of lessons and truancy. Of course, completing unpleasant tasks is also part of learning and living. This applies equally to those involved in teaching. The number of teachers with mental stress is growing (Schaarschmidt, 2005). They feel increasingly burnt out and often considerably lose their courage and zest for life from school year to school year. The pressure is becoming too great. This pressure from the organised sector into the leisure sector is also evident among many pupils, especially in the upper grades of the Gymnasium, but also in other school types and lower grades. Thus, the question to be asked regarding time regime is to what extent the unique experience of pandemic time and distance learning has made it possible for pupils but also teachers to have full and fulfilled time. It would then be critical to ask whether the flexibilisation of time allocation, which is hinted at in the studies, favours a reduction of the curriculum to core subjects. Against this background, the general pedagogical processing of time for learners and teachers can also be the focus of future work. Methodologically, group discussions such as those now established in educational research through the work of Ralf Bohnsack (2012) are an option here. Formats such as group workshops and group discussions with pupils can show that there are specific fits or differences in the learned time regime, depending on social affiliation. This then poses at least the question of filled and unfilled time, but rather the question of the possibilities with the release and thus self-disposal of one’s time. Bohnsack classifies the knowledge that guides this social practice of action under the category of orientation framework. Here he ties in with Karl Mannheim, who demonstrated the character of knowledge guiding action as atheoretical knowledge (ibid., p. 125). The category of the subjunctive experience space is central in this context. The conjunctive experiential space describes the natural human togetherness, i.e. the fact that people who are connected by a common experiential background understand each other directly (Przyborski, & Wohlrab-Sahr, 2014, p. 285). Such common layers of experience, socially shared experiences, lead to collective atheoretical knowledge structures, which as implicit orientations essentially frame people’s practice of action. In the context of teaching and corresponding time regimes (class structure, teaching process, etc.) this space of experience is unified. What happens, however, if this standardisation is discontinued and otherwise collectively supported understanding of time becomes obsolete? For which social groups does this represent a higher obstacle and does it result in a corresponding moment of exclusion? Such questions remain open to discussion and are of great theoretical interest.
Feedback and Support
Based on the groups of parents and pupils both studies show that there are concrete ideas and wishes as to what possible support services could look like in distance learning or home schooling. Pupils would like to see more “explanatory videos” and better organisation of the preparation and follow-up of learning tasks. Parents, on the other hand, would like feedback on their teaching activities from teachers. Both perspectives stage the teacher as a professional in terms of mediation and the assessment of their own acquisition or mediation procedures.
According to Hattie and Timperley (2007), the purpose of giving feedback is to reduce the discrepancy between an individual’s existing level of learning or understanding and a goal to be achieved. The previously mentioned contrast between an individual’s initial state and a learning goal to be achieved can be reduced by factors such as an increased willingness to make an effort or a more effective use of strategy on the part of the learners. Similarly, teachers can support the learning processes of learners by providing adequate challenging and specific objectives or by teaching appropriate learning strategies. Hattie and Timperley consider feedback to be effective if the following three questions can be answered by both teachers and pupils: The question “Where am I going? (Feed Up)” focuses on the pursuit of objectives in the provision of feedback. With regard to adequate support for pupils’ learning processes, it is highly relevant to formulate the objectives to be achieved as concretely as possible. At the same time, the question “How am I going? (Feed Back)” focuses on how the corresponding objectives of pupils can be achieved. Feedback is effective in this context if it contains information about the pupils’ learning progress or if the feedback shows the learner ways to proceed. On the basis of the last question, “Where to next (Feed Forward)”, feedback is considered effective if it leads to increased learning opportunities on the part of the pupils, which can take place, for example, via a learning strategy conveyed by feedback and can thus lead to a deeper understanding among pupils (Hattie & Timperley, 2007, p. 88-90). In the current discourse on feedback types and possibilities, the preference for more complex feedback behaviour of teachers (mostly instructive) has thus prevailed over “praise and blame” without instructions. For example, the qualitative observational study by Apter et al. (2010) showed a significantly higher proportion of praise given in comparison to reprimands given by the teacher with regard to the pupils’ performance. On the other hand, a reverse picture became clear with regard to feedback on the social behaviour of the pupils: here the proportion of rebuke outweighed the observed praise. More specific forms of feedback that go beyond praise and blame could only rarely be observed in the study by Burnett and Mandel (2010). In another qualitative observational study in secondary schools in the Netherlands, Voerman et al. (2012) came to the following conclusions: Here, too, it was shown that praise was used more often than blame by the teachers observed. Moreover, the rather unspecific feedback (praise, blame) outweighed the provision of elaborate feedback. Contrary to the findings of Voerman et al. (2012), Van den Bergh et al. (2013) in their qualitative video study in Dutch primary schools in grades six to eight conclude that elaborate, constructive feedback was the most common form of feedback in their observed teaching. Simple feedback in the form of confirmatory feedback was used less frequently.
In Zhukov’s (2012) qualitative video research in the subject music, the unspecific positive feedback was also the most common form of feedback. However, the positive feedback, supplemented by elaborate notes, was also observed almost as frequently. Both simple and elaborate forms of negative feedback were used much less frequently.
What this brief and initial look at the research on feedback shows is that studies on feedback behaviour and the handling of feedback by the addressed persons (in most cases pupils) usually aim at finding out the content or even the absence of feedback in order to derive pathways for useful or less useful feedback. Research from the period of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic as well as the literature which has been presented here has shown is that there is a desire for feedback which the teacher addresses as a professional in the field of teaching. So their question is: Is the “how” of my actions right?
Professions have the fundamental task of solving crises that laypersons are not able to handle or resolve. “Professionalised practice begins where primary life practices can no longer cope with their crises themselves and have to delegate their management to an external expertise” (Oevermann, 2009, p. 114). For research driven from theory of profession, this seems to indicate opposing processes for the specific time of the pandemic. Teachers have returned their expertise and professional domain to the actors in learning processes – a tendency that can often be found in processes of distance learning. The pedagogical dimension of the perception and legitimation of the teacher in his or her specific domain was thus temporarily at stake. Therefore qualitative research projects could focus on this aspect. But can this issue be dealt with retrospectively? Simple descriptions of the means of communication and ways of communication by the teaching actors and parents will not be sufficient, as these are overlaid by subjective impressions. For this purpose, concrete documentation of communication, such as e-mail traffic or communication via learning platforms would be more appropriate.
Together with problem-centred interviews, as reconstruction of the social, in this case the desire for feedback as well as addressing the teacher as a professional could thus be understood. This approach would be attractive, especially in an international context, since a large amount of possible data can be collected here.
Maintaining the Communicative and Pedagogical Component of Teaching
Another aspect that the studies show indicates a general desire for communication and sociality. The pandemic period has individualised the time of learning to an unknown extent. Familiar social settings of classes or other teaching units were obsolete for a long time.
Digital formats, if they existed, seem not to have met this need.
The school institution requires the actors to be able to represent physically and symbolically what it is in this institution: a pupil or a teacher. This includes the acquisition of “school- typical” characteristics and forms of expression such as presenting oneself to one’s fellow pupils, expressing or hiding emotions in a certain way, demonstrating readiness to teach or overacting inattentiveness. If this does not succeed, the student will be sanctioned by gestures and hints or regimentation. Characteristic, school-specific gestures of the participants embody the specific “school style”. In different social practices, the school beginner acquires implicit knowledge about the institution-specific “game types” and “game variants” with which the participants co-construct their social reality. Rituals and ritualised sequences help to absorb the contents and moods associated with them in a perceptual-emotional way. In a permanently circulating process between inner imagination and external reference, the actors influence each other and contribute to the dynamics of shaping reality. This is easy to understand from one’s own experiences in the home office. We ourselves and also many colleagues have painfully missed the practices and institution-specific varieties of communication. Work did not feel like work and the boundaries to private life became distorted.
So what happens if this component of teaching, and of course also in other learning settings, is missing and learning processes only take place independently or highly individualised.
What forms of sociality, recognition procedures and self- and external representation have groups of pupils acquired during the time of “none-physical-presence” that expands their repertoire of rules and symbols? In fact of that, future questions regarding to digitised learning environments, hybrid learning spaces and blended learning formats are deriving.
Without presenting the discussion in detail here, the research rather refers to possibilities of technical implementation as well as their evaluation and monitoring, mostly in comparison to established forms of presence. However, if we justifiably assume that forms of digital learning (in all areas of the institutionalised education system) will increase, the pandemic period is an exciting laboratory to investigate the needs of society and the associated techniques of social actors in teaching have established.
Furthermore, following the concept of education introduced earlier, it is necessary to reflect on the relationship between recognition practices and the transformation of self-image and worldview.
Starting from the premise that discourse invokes and at the same time produces subjects, through adaptation, demarcation and self-optimization, Judith Butler (2010, p. 10) has enriched the debate on subject figures above all through a “new ontology of the body”. For Butler, the body is not a prior and natural given, like the “voluntare subject” in Foucault’s work, to which social practices attack in order to perceive and evaluate it in different ways. Rather, the social life of the body is established through social invocations that are linguistic and productive at the same time and function within the framework of social notions of normality. Rather, the argument is presented that a perspective on the body based solely on body-phenomenology does not go far enough, because it avoids the question of what the materiality of the human body is historically about. Butler’s call for a new ontology of the body, which takes into account the fact that the body is exposed to “socially and politically shaped forces as well as the demands of social coexistence” (ibid., p. 11), which make its existence and prosperity possible:
“As a social phenomenon created in the public sphere, my body belongs to me and yet not to me. As a body entrusted to the world of others from the beginning, it bears their imprint, is formed in the melting pot of social life. Only later and with some uncertainty do I claim my body as the one that belongs to me, if I ever do so” (Butler, 2005, p. 43).
With Butler (2009), recognition relationships are understood as part of intelligent norms that are produced in “daily social rituals of physical life” (85). Balzer and Ricken (2010) therefore define recognition as: 1) fundamentally for a modern understanding of the subject; 2) as not only a confirming activity but also as a negating one; 3) as meaningful and productive; and 4) as a battle in the debate on “intelligent norms of recognition and visibility” (Balzer & Ricken, 2012, p. 42). Koller and Rose (2012) include the recognition practices of others in the transformational theory of education and thus attempt an intersubjective and recognition- theoretical extension of education theory.
“One consequence of these considerations for an educational theory that understands education as the constitution and transformation of the relationship in which people stand to the world and to themselves is that, with Butler, education cannot be understood as an event emanating from the subject himself, but rather as a process that must be thought up from the invocation by one or more others. In this sense, the special attention of a theory of formation would have to be paid to the relationship of the subject to others and the category of world and self relationship would have to be extended to include the dimension of relationship to others: Instead of world- and self-relations, the logical consequence would be to speak of world-, other- and self- relations. Butler’s reference to the meaning of the “passionate attachment” of the subject to others and the at least partial denial of this attachment also makes it clear that education as a process of constitution and transformation of world, other and self relations necessarily includes a dimension of desire that cannot be controlled or fully grasped by the subject. A theory of education would therefore have to take into account the intransparency and unavailability of this affective dimension and question the relations of subjects to the world, others and self as to how they deal with the fact that “part of their being necessarily eludes their consciousness and control” (Koller, & Rose, 2012, p. 82).
This fundamentally demonstrates that recognition procedures, especially in the context of school, are characterised by intelligible norms which are in constant renegotiation and transformation of world, other and self references. Butler’s strength here is to point out in particular the potentiality of social practice (Weitkämper, 2019). That is what it continues to say:
“And finally, it follows from Butler’s conception that a theory of education would have to ask what role in relations with others the denied attachment of the subject to those on whom he was or is dependent plays, and to what extent this attachment to others is unconsciously repeated in the subject’s current behaviour or re-staged in the mode of transmission” (ibid., p. 88)
This perspective, which is not only based on physical phenomenology but also on education theory, is the basis for learning with and through others. The presence of body – pointedly speaking bodywork – binds us to the significant others. For a certain moment this component of the educational process was missing and was probably replaced in some form or another. A practical counterexample: In our field of work, most learning settings (e.g. research workshops) have failed without replacement, online seminars only radiated a limited attractiveness and this list of examples would surely be endless. This supports the thesis that recognition-practical and representative dynamics of reality design are a condition for successful learning settings.
This is rather a theoretical reflection that does not end with a concrete methodological proposal. However, the results of the investigations by Porsch, and Porsch (2020), as well as Wacker et al. (2020), provide sufficient reason to think further.
Societal crises like the current Corona pandemic can serve two purposes for educational research: 1) for questioning “practiced practices” and 2) as indication of which routines are retained by the subjects or substituted in a certain way. If something is disruptive in our everyday life, we try to bring it back to its previous state as quickly as possible or to restore the original order. This human behaviour has a lot to do with habit and routines, which are necessary to maintain “ordered” (co-)living. However, it is also orders, habits, and routines that make reorientation difficult or prevent it, as they dominate the social tension between reproduction (preserving) and transformation (changing) (Schratz, 2019).
Crisis experiences framed through educational theory thus open up novel spaces of possibilies and can create fertile moments for new developments, as they allow a fresh view of the familiar from unusual perspectives. Crises can thus become a laboratory for new things, if the opportunities that arise are used. Concrete: the forced suspension of school routines can be a once-in-a-centuary opportunity to make wise use of the experiences of the time of school closures and to rethink teaching. In order to give this perspective a chance to be realised, it is first necessary to take an analytical look at the experiences from the school closures and second to explore the terrain of moving the school as a place of learning into the pupils’ homes. Both studies presented here do exactly this in an outstanding way. We constructed sensitising concepts emerged from the results of these studies, which offer a possible deeper analytical framework for researching routines and habits of teaching and learning that have been challenged by the crisis together with making the researcher more receptive to future work in educational science. What is worth preserving? What pedagogical standards should be applied to the realisation of hybrid learning spaces, distance learning and other forms of digital teaching formats so that their implementation corresponds to an educational theory approach? Which actors appear in what way, are called upon or addressed according to their position in the field? What are the consequences for the pedagogical profession and what implications has that on teacher (further) education (digital competencies)? But also: What implications has social isolation in home schooling and how do we deal in that scenario with concepts of participative/cooperative/social learning? How about the consequences of overstraining through the requirements and options of self organised learning? What kind of possibilities are necessary to evaluate and assess pupils performances and knowledge?
We close this contribution with open questions, because every research journey ends with new questions according to the principle: The end of one (qualitative) research study is always the beginning of a new (qualitative) research study.
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About the Authors
Fabian Mußél, M.A.: Doctoral Student, employed at the Professorship of Educational Science with focus on General Didactics, University of Magdeburg (Germany); e-mail: Fabian.email@example.com
Jun. Prof. Dr. phil. Maria Kondratjuk: Jun. Professorship for Organisational Development in the Educational System at the Technical University Dresden (Germany); e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
i see inter alia Reichertz (2016, p. 9)
ii A detailed description of the historical and basic theoretical foundation of the concept of social worlds can be found in Schütze (2016, pp. 7-106). More recent approaches that can be classified in terms of power theory and ethnomethodology (Clarke, 2008, among others), which then also speak of arenas, since they also deal with the overlapping of social worlds and with inclusion
iii In German educational science, the theoretical work of Koller (2018) and the resulting qualitative empirical studies are formative in this respect.
iv In the original, the authors give a definition of the term, which is why they put the term distance learning in inverted commas. In the following we will always use the term without inverted commas.
v To avoid misleading the reader, it should be noted that the authors Ulbrecht Wacker, Valentin Unger & Thomas Rey (2020) themselves speak of a qualitative study. To what extent the study is qualitative is not comprehensible to us. Although the qualitative domain has been made clear with the content analysis method according to Mayring (2002), the presentation of results and also the online survey rather indicate a quantifying character. Therefore we understand the study as a quantitative survey.