Norwegian pupils are being asked to identify bullies and rank popularity in class in non-anonymous surveys

BullyingPhoto: Wilma Nora Dorthellinger Nygaard / NTB
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Since 2014, thousands of pupils have been asked to identify bullies and rank popularity in class through non-anonymous surveys, the newspaper Dagsavisen reports.

The Spekter and Innblikk surveys are made by the Learning Environment Center (LMS) at the University of Stavanger. 

They have been used in schools by the Directorate of Education (Udir) through the Learning Environment Project since 2014.

“It is commendable that methods are being developed for mapping and preventing bullying, but if you do not tread carefully, the price for such measures can quickly become high,” Stein Erik Ulvund, researcher and professor of pedagogy at the University of Oslo, told Dagsavisen.

The forms are not anonymous, and the pupils must, among other things, answer questions about who is bullying who, who is being bullied, and who is the most and least popular in the class. 

At the same time, no consent from the parents is required.

“An informant culture”

“The most startling thing about Spekter is that it encourages other pupils to be named. It legalizes an informant culture, which can hardly form a good basis for a good classroom environment,” school researcher Gunn Imsen at NTNU told Dagsavisen.

According to LMS, around 500 schools in Norway pay for an annual digital subscription to Spekter. At the same time, Spekter is also used in a free paper version.

The proportion of bullies in schools that have participated in the government’s Learning Environment Project has decreased, according to Udir.

“Legal, ethical, and professional questions”

“Changes in the learning environment can lead to a decrease in bullying numbers, and there are many factors that come into play. Spekter and Innblikk can be one of these factors, but it is virtually impossible to get numbers specifically on one or two factors alone. One must look at the whole in all the work that the schools put in to tackle bullying,” center manager Dag Jostein Nordaker at LMS told the newspaper.

“Using non-anonymized surveys raises many legal, ethical, and professional questions that must be weighed against each other. The purpose of a survey must always be to find out what is needed to improve relationships and the psychosocial environment for the benefit of students,” department head for kindergarten and school environment in Udir Marit Hognestad pointed out.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today

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