Pre-service Teachers Exploring Early Writing Instruction – fostering professional digital competence

Submitted by: Sylvana Sofkova Hashemi
Abstract: The Swedish national curriculum for compulsory school has been recently revised with the aim to strengthen pupils’ digital competence. Previous curricular studies (Peterson, 2018) show a general focus on the development of basic skills (handwriting, spelling) and genre knowledge in early writing instruction in Sweden and scarce emphasis on process, functional or critical literacy approaches, the socio-political discourses emphasised to prepare pupils for citizenship in a digitalized society. The curricula emphasise work with interactive texts, collaboratively created texts, texts where words and images interact, responsible use of language when communicating in digital media (Skolverket, 2017; Godhe et al., in review).

This study analyses pre-service teachers’ field work and seminar dialogue exploring the teaching and learning discourses (Ivanic, 2004) in early writing instruction in regard to teachers’ professional digital competence. A total of 253 final year teacher students, participating between 2016 - 2018 in a Swedish subject course (40-60 students/course), the aim was to study:

1. What discourses of writing instruction the teacher students’ field studies and seminar dialogue reveal?
2. What professional competence the teacher students develop and wish for?

The objective of the field assignment was to use observation techniques and study how the early writing instruction is organized in relation to available digital resources, what learning goals are set, what literacy practices occur, which texts pupils read and create on screen or by hand and how. The group's individual observations were compiled in a digital presentation for seminal examination. The requirement was to link the findings to the course literature and reflect on the results by preparing at least one question for creating a seminar discussion.

The analysis of the pre-service teachers’ field work and seminar dialogue not only explores the current state of early writing instruction, it also raises questions among the students about their own professional competence and readiness to teach early writing in the digital age. The students discovered major contrasts in access and use of digital tools between schools, absence of learning goals, discussed pupils’ autonomy vs. teacher control, influence of arrangements on instruction and issues in regard to meaningful instruction, assessment and inclusion.

Godhe, A-L., Sofkova Hashemi, S. & Magnusson, P. (in review) Adequate Digital Competence: Exploring changes in the Swedish national curriculum. Educare.

Ivanic, R. (2004). Discourses of writing and learning to write. Language and Education, 18(3), 220–245.

Peterson, S., Parr, J., Lindgren, E., & Kaufman, D. (2018). Conceptualizations of writing in early years curricula and standards documents: International perspectives. The Curriculum Journal, 1-23.

Skolverket (2017). Swedish curriculum for compulsory school, preschool classes and recreation centers 2011, revised 2017. Available at: