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An Atlantic Crossing? The Work of the International Examination Inquiry, its Researchers, Methods and Influence
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Comparative Histories of Education

An Atlantic Crossing? The Work of the International Examination Inquiry, its Researchers, Methods and Influence

Edited by MARTIN LAWN

2008 paperback 206 pages, £30.00, ISBN 978-1-873927-26-7
https://doi.org/10.15730/books.68

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About the book

This book focuses on the International Examinations Inquiry (IEI), an international, well-funded scientific project that operated in the 1930s, attracting key world figures in educational research, and which undertook significant exchanges of data.
   Originally involving the USA, Scotland, England, France, Germany and Switzerland, the IEI grew to include Norway, Sweden and Finland. Funded by Carnegie money, these researchers included major comparative educationalists, New Education Fellowship academics, statisticians and educational psychologists. They met at a significant time in the emergence of international scientific work in educational research between the USA and Europe; they were a midway stage between earlier individual contacts by well-travelled researchers, usually towards North America, and the development of joint research projects, sustained over time.
   The focus of the IEI was on methods of examining pupils for the coming expansion of secondary education, but their key problems were to do with establishing standardized methods of measurement, international scholarly communication and comparative understandings of national diversity. The IEI researchers acted to support national achievements and strategies within the borders of the nation and internationally, to exchange methods and results. In retrospect, they appear to be visible in their knowledge communities and national education histories but invisible in their internationalism.

Contents [Please click on author name for summary]

Introduction. An Atlantic Crossing? The Work of the International Examinations Inquiry, its Researchers, Methods and Influence, 7-37

Martin Lawn Blowing up the Citadel of Examinations: the English Committee and the Carnegie Corporation, 39-59

Florian Waldow Awkward Knowledge: the German delegation to the International Examinations Inquiry, 61-82

Rita Hofstetter, Bernard Schneuwly Bovet's Dilemma - examinations or no examinations: the Swiss contribution to the Carnegie initiative, 83-98

Marc Zarrouati The Battle of the Baccalaureat: the long forgotten story of a divided committee, 99-118

Martin Lawn, Ian Deary, David Bartholomew Naive, Expert and Willing Partners: the Scottish Council for Research in Education in the International Examinations Inquiry, 119-136

Minna Vourio-Lehti, Annukka Jauhiainen Laurin Zilliacus and the 'War' against the Finnish Matriculation Examination, 137-156

Christian Lundahl Inter/national Assessments as National Curriculum: the case of Sweden, 157-179

Harold Jarning, Gro Hanne Aas Between Common Schooling and the Academe: the International Examinations Inquiry in Norway, 1935-1961, 181-202

Notes on Contributors, 205-206

Introduction. An Atlantic Crossing? The Work of the International Examinations Inquiry, its Researchers, Methods and Influence

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Blowing up the Citadel of Examinations: the English Committee and the Carnegie Corporation
Martin Lawn

The English Committee of the International Examinations Inquiry comprised some of the most well-known educationists and psychologists of education in England. It was London based and driven by Sir Philip Hartog, a close ally of the Chair, Sir Michael Sadler. It published a range of books including a bibliography and essays on the subject of examinations, and a close study entitled The Marks of Examiners, a controversial book. In the late 1930s, it was allowed to develop, with Carnegie funding, into a project for a national research institute, and its close ally, Sir Fred Clarke, worked with Hartog in the war years to this purpose.

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Awkward Knowledge: the German delegation to the International Examinations Inquiry
Florian Waldow

This chapter locates the position of the German delegation to the International Examinations Inquiry (IEI) both within German educational discourse at the time and within the context of the IEI. During its short period of activity, the German delegation produced some remarkable research that was quite unusual and ground-breaking in the German context, where empirical approaches to education and testing were rapidly being marginalised by a more philosophical orientation of education as an academic subject at the time. At the same time, the German delegation’s position was of course formed by academic culture and educational discourse in Germany, especially by the idea of education as radically individualistic self-cultivation (Bildung). Conceiving of education as Bildung, however, potentially stood in conflict to applying psychometric testing methods. Thus, the German delegation’s position was somewhat ‘awkward’ both in relation to the dominant pedagogical discourse in Germany at the time and to what might be termed the psychometric ‘mainstream’ at the Eastbourne conference.

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Bovet's Dilemma - examinations or no examinations: the Swiss contribution to the Carnegie initiative
Rita Hofstetter, Bernard Schneuwly

At the Eastbourne conference on examinations organised by the Carnegie Foundation, Bovet asks a fundamental question: what are the effects of examinations on the school system and on teachers’ work. This question is the expression of a dilemma he has: as an experimental pedagogue, he is in favour of scientific examinations; as a militant for New Education, he defends teachers’ freedom, which can be hampered by examinations. In order to provide some answers to his questions, he analyses the origin and effects of large-scale examinations of army recruits in Switzerland (18541914) and the reasons for their suppression; among others, the action of the New Education influenced teacher trade union. The analysis of this Swiss historical experiment allows him to formulate his dilemma in a more sophisticated way, but it remains.

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The Battle of the Baccalaureat: the long forgotten story of a divided committee
Marc Zarrouati

The French Committee attended the three general conferences of International Examinations Inquiry (IEI) at Eastbourne, Folkestone and Dinard, while its chairman, Auguste Desclos, also attended all intermediate meetings. France even hosted the last general meeting of 1938, at Dinard. This committee should have played a key role in this international inquiry. However, this committee failed in sustaining the international efforts to improve European countries’ way of examining. It did not contribute to releasing any French innovative methods or ideas abroad, nor did it convince French educational circles to adopt the modern views on examinations discussed at these conferences. Although it had carried out seminal studies on the baccalauréat examination, the Committee disappeared at the dawn of the Second World War and its work sank in the deep waters of indifference and oblivion. Considering the history of the French Committee is nevertheless of great interest to understand why and how French leading teachers, namely secondary school teachers, were predominantly opposed to new methods of examination in the 1930s, while these methods were broadly released and experimented with in many other European countries. We see that the French Committee was divided between those who promoted ‘Culture générale’ based education and traditional examinations and those who wished to introduce testing within French primary and secondary schools. The latter carried out the scientific work, while the interpretations and discussions of the results were led by the former, during the Carnegie conferences. This latent conflict was detrimental both to scientific exchanges between French experimental psychologists and foreign scholars and to the introduction of experimental methods and psychometric views on examination within the French education system, as well.

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Naive, Expert and Willing Partners: the Scottish Council for Research in Education in the International Examinations Inquiry
Martin Lawn, Ian Deary, David Bartholomew

The Scottish presence in the International Examinations Inquiry (IEI) is substantial and fully involved. The IEI creates a strong international, financial and scientific opportunity for the embryo Scottish research network, the Scottish Council for Research in Education (SCRE). The power of the network is harnessed to a series of quantitative studies including wide school population testing. Carnegie recognised and strengthened the independent thinking of the Scottish network and SCRE formed itself within an American school of thought on educational research.

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Laurin Zilliacus and the 'War' against the Finnish Matriculation Examination
Minna Vourio-Lehti, Annukka Jauhiainen

In this chapter the activities of the Finnish Carnegie Committee are reviewed. The first part establishes the social and educational context within which Zilliacus and the Carnegie Committee operated in Finland in the 1930s. In the second part the Finnish secondary school system (oppikoulu) is reviewed and Zilliacus’s experimental secondary school is described. The chapter then examines the members of the Finnish Carnegie Committee and the outcomes of the enquiry. The last section evaluates the impact of the Committee for Finnish educational policy.

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Inter/national Assessments as National Curriculum: the case of Sweden
Christian Lundahl

The use of assessments and the use of the international scene are two strategies to change the national curriculum that are typical in modern educational systems. This chapter illustrates how a progressive movement in Sweden used participation in the International Examinations Inquiry to promote and establish a very specific institute in Sweden: the State Psychological Pedagogical Institute (SPPI). By the realisation of the SPPI the progressive movement won an important position on the Swedish educational field, from which they could distribute discourses on and for comprehensive schooling. These discourses became, contrary to the intentions, more and more psychology laden over the years to come.

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Between Common Schooling and the Academe: the International Examinations Inquiry in Norway, 1935-1961
Harold Jarning, Gro Hanne Aas

The major report from the International Examinations Inquiry in Norway was published in 1961. The last of the two books from the project was based on data and investigations from the second half of the 1930s. The Norwegian Carnegie Committee started its work in 1935 and managed to initiate a number of investigations done by a group of younger educational researchers, before the German occupation from 1940 to 1945. After the war the committee was re-established for some years. The investigations focused mainly on upper secondary general education. The main areas of concern were related to the pressure from a newly unified common basic school on post-compulsory education. Key investigations focused on the validity of marking and the national examinations as well as on the impact of examinations on pedagogy and everyday student life. Results were published in Norwegian, and with a delay of a decade or more. Documentation from the project would support the more general impression in the decades after the war that the national examinations had acceptable validity. Also important was a concern for national assessment as a main institution and caretaker of control of educational quality. In this respect the investigations did not support attempts to introduce test-based systems on a broad scale and as an alternative to the established system based on mandatory national examinations.

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Notes on Contributors

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Contributors

Gro Hanne Aas is a senior advisor in the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education (NOKUT). She has formerly worked at universities in Norway and Sweden and in the Norwegian Research Council. She holds a PhD in the History of Ideas and Science and has published mainly on the topics of the history of education, and on research and knowledge politics.

David Bartholomew
is Professor Emeritus of Statistics at the London School of Economics, United Kingdom. He is a Fellow of the British Academy, a Member of the International Statistical Institute, a Fellow of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics and has served as Honorary Secretary, Treasurer and President of the Royal Statistical Society. He has acted as a consultant on a wide range of statistical matters to many governmental and other organisations.

Ian Deary is Professor of Differential Psychology at the University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom. Since 1997 he has been working with his team on follow-up studies of the Scottish Mental Surveys of 1932 and 1947. He is a Fellow of the British Academy, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh. He is a past President of the International Society for the Study of Individual Differences.

Rita Hofstetter is Professor of History of Education in the Educational Sciences Section of the University of Geneva, Switzerland. She works on the history of education and specialises in the study of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Her current research deals with nationalisation of schools, reforms of teacher education and the emergence of educational sciences as a disciplinary field.

Harald Jarning is associate professor at the Department of Education and International Studies at Oslo University College, Norway. His main research interests are the history of basic schooling, the history of higher education, and pedagogy and didactics. He has been editor of the yearbook for educational history in Norway, Skolen, and has published mainly on Norwegian history of education and educational research and research policy.

Annukka Jauhiainen is a lecturer in the Department of Education at the University of Turku, Finland.

Martin Lawn is a Professorial Research Fellow at the Centre for Educational Sociology at the University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom. He is the Editor of the European Educational Research Journal (www.wwwords.eu/EERJ) and ex-Secretary General of the European Educational Research Association. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and has published widely on European educational policy and on the sociology and history of teachers and teaching.

Christian Lundahl is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Education, Uppsala University, Sweden. He is a member of the research group, Studies in Educational Policy and Educational Philosophy, led by Professor Ulf P. Lundgren. He recently received a four-year grant from the Swedish Research Council to continue his work on assessment in education. Lundahl is also a Director of Education at the National Agency for Education.

Bernard Schneuwly is Professor for Didactics of Language and Dean of the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences at the University of Geneva, Switzerland. Currently, he is working on contents taught in the French mother tongue education classroom, the relationship between teaching, learning and development and the history of educational sciences.

Minna Vuorio-Lehti is a Special Researcher in the Department of Education, University of Turku, Finland.

Florian Waldow is a lecturer and research associate (Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter) at Humboldt-University, Berlin, Germany, and a researcher at Uppsala University, Sweden.

Marc Zarrouati is an Assistant Professor at the University of Toulouse, France in both Philosophy of Science (Epistemology) and History of Science. He has a PhD in Theoretical Physics and he was awarded the ‘Agrégation’ in Mathematics. He also holds a degree in Moral and Political Philosophy. He teaches courses in Philosophy of Education and Educational Sciences at the Teachers’ College of the University of Toulouse, where he is currently doing postgraduate work with prospective teachers. He also lectures at the National College of Agronomics (Ecole Nationale de Formation Agronomique). His research interests are in the area of the epistemology and history of educational sciences.

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