Skip to main content

Educating the Evaluative Soul? Enactments and Pupils’ Lived Experiences of the Politics of the Pupil Self-evaluation (EdSoul)

Tampere University
Area of focusSociety

EdSoul is Academy of Finland funded post-doctoral project, which studies the politics of pupil self-evaluation and how is it being enacted in everyday life at school. EdSoul takes a new perspective to studying pupil self-evaluation as politics and form of societal power by combining ideas from previous research on sociology and politics of education on evaluation, curriculum studies and power.


The role of pupil self-evaluation has been greatly expanded in current educational practices. This tendency is supported by the larger trend of the evaluation society, and intersecting constructivist and selfregulative learning theories. Within these frames of thought, as a rule, self-evaluation is taken as an obvious but also an apolitical activity of reflection which aims to help pupils to achieve better learning results and performance, and finally, to became betterqualified citizens of society.

Contrary to this general understanding, this study acknowledges self-evaluation as a mechanism of power operating in our society. This power is productive in the sense that it has the capacity to make and shape people and their subjectivities so they become docile to the requirements of the western evaluation society and knowledge economy. It has the capacity to shape and educate the subject, which EdSoul hypothesizes as an evaluative soul.



EdSoul project will take these as the basic premises in exploring the current politics and practice of pupil self-evaluation in Finnish comprehensive education. Recent research in sociology and politics of education has extensively studied how education is governed by evaluation. However, the issue of pupil self-evaluation has remained at the margins. The aim of EdSoul is to contribute to this gap in a novel and original way.

EdSoul will first explore the cultural historical formation of the politics of pupil self-evaluation by examining national curricula and policy texts. Second, it will study empirically how the politics of selfevaluation enter the classroom and be experienced by pupils in their everyday educational lives.  Data will include field notes, documents, pupil and teacher interviews and formal student assessment discussions. Finally, EdSoul will bring the empirical data together to enable a theoretical discussion on the making of pupil subjectivity at the intersection of theories, policies and practices of self-evaluation; in other words, on shaping of the subject as an evaluative soul. This will provide significant knowledge and understanding for the reflexive development of educational theories, policies and practices acknowledging the ignored effects of pupil self-evaluation on pupil subjectivities and experiences.

Funding source

Academy of Finland funded post-doctoral project.