NAFOL profile: Elise M. Vike Johannessen

Elise Johannessen. photoStudents’ experiences with and understandings of prejudice and negative attitudes tied to minority groups and identities in school

I am a teacher in Social studies and English and have a master’s degree in Multicultural and International Education. Before I became a PhD candidate, I worked as an elementary school teacher.

In my project, I investigate students’ experiences with and understandings of prejudice and negative attitudes tied to minority groups and identities, and how these experiences and understandings can be seen in connection with, and in light of, each other. How do students experience it when they or their peers, in various ways, directly or indirectly, are subjected to prejudice or negative attitudes tied to minority backgrounds or identities? Further, how can we understand these phenomena in connection to students’ feelings of security and safety and vulnerability? I have a broad approach to the overarching topic of the project. In one article, I investigate boys’ use of disparaging humor and slurs, and the ambiguity that lies in their humor practices. In another article, I examine the experiences of girls with Muslim backgrounds in learning about Islam in Religion and Ethics class, against a theoretical lens of boundaries, representation and responsibility.

Empirically the project rests on observations from inside and outside classrooms, in addition to 28 individual student interviews with students from three high schools in different parts of Norway.

Increased knowledge about students’ experiences with and understandings of these phenomena can provide a stronger basis and new perspectives for expanding education professionals’ knowledge and competencies in terms of prevention of group-based prejudice and promotion of diversity competence for an inclusive school environment.

NAFOL has been valuable for as a doctoral candidate in a multitude of ways. I have especially appreciated NAFOL in terms of gaining a broad network of doctoral candidates and other education researchers. Furthermore, the knowledge and broad array of education related research imparted through seminars and conferences has been enriching for me as an emerging researcher and for my doctoral project. Additionally, I am grateful for the economic support for attending international conferences.