How students' voice can be heard in the Finnish context : the case of primary, lower secondary and upper secondary schools in Jyväskylä
DisciplineMaster's Degree Programme in Educational LeadershipMaster's Degree Programme in Educational Leadership
This qualitative multiple case study research investigated how the Finnish school system practices student leadership as a significant dimension of democracy on three school levels: primary, lower secondary and upper secondary. The study defines student leadership through the democracy issue, leadership decision making and leadership theories. Semi-structured interviews were applied to collect the data from three school principals, eight teacher supervisors and three groups of student leaders, altogether 33 participants. The thematic network analysis, deductive and inductive thematic analysis were used to answer the three research questions. The results of the theoretical (deductive) thematic analysis mainly correspond to the four-frame approach to leadership (Bolman & Deal, 2008) with two exceptional issues: weaknesses of Finnish school structures and a lack of data about play. According to the inductive data analysis Finnish educators associated student leadership with democratic features in the school society and distributing leadership to students. Student leaders also came up with characteristics of democracy in schools, but on different scales depending on their school age. Students may also participate in the classroom governance through different kinds of classroom decision making possibilities. Additionally, the data analysis interpreted feminine traditions of student leadership and school leadership in the Finnish case schools. It is worthwhile if the same phenomenon could be investigated with a focus on the gender issue, the passivity of students in student leadership, the process of student decision making, the development of youth-adult partnership, and humor. It is also recommended to carry out a similar study in other schools and higher education organizations in the context of Finland as well as that of different countries. ...
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