Accepted Paper:

Measuring Danish pupils' well-being: An emerging numerical expertise and its contestations  


Helene Gad Ratner (University College Metropol)
Christopher Gad (IT-University of Copenhagen)

Paper short abstract:

Danish pupils’ well-being is an emerging object of governance in Denmark. We explore three different measurements and techniques of calculating. All contribute to factualise ‘well-being’, but they also enact different versions of well-being, publics, and the problem-solution nexus.

Paper long abstract:

The concept of well-being has become a key category of social and political imagination, cultivating new understandings of 'what it means to be a capable person' (Corsín Jiménez, 2008, 2). In 2015, the Danish Ministry of Education began conducting national, annual measurements of Danish pupils' well-being. This measurement recasts the traditionally qualitative psycho-pedagogical concept of well-being in numerical terms. Moreover, different actors with overlapping but competing calculative techniques enters the scene. We investigate well-being as an emerging object of governance in Denmark with attention to competing techniques for measuring and calculating well-being: 1) the statistical factor and reliability calculations used by the Danish Ministry of Education, used to turn a 40 questions-questionnaire into a 'quality indicator', which again is used to hold institutions accountable to new national objectives for pupils' well-being; 2) the Danish newspaper A4's interactive, online mapping of pupils' well-being at all Danish schools, developed from the same numbers (accessed through their juridical right to access government files) but using different calculative techniques and aimed at communicating to a general public; 3) the 'Københavnerbarometer', an older well-being metrics developed by the municipality of Copenhagen for local governance of schools. We highlight how these different metrics contribute to factualise 'well-being' as evidence of the state of affairs in the public school all the while they also enact different versions of well-being, publics, and the problem-solution nexus.

Panel T045
New Collective Practices of Measurement, Monitoring and Evidence