Student's Subjectivity Formation: Methodology of Research


The article is devoted to substantiating the research methodology of student’s subjectivity formation and its qualitative characteristics development in the context of anthropological, humanitarian and activity approaches to education. The problem of substantiating the research methodology on the student’s subjectivity in the university educational space is to raise and solve the following questions: characteristics of the student’s subjectivity in the context of anthropological and humanitarian approaches to education; methods of psychological research of subjectivity based on students’ reflection of personal participation in activities (motives, values, activity); forms of educational and organizational activities that ensure student’s subjectivity formation. The following research methods are used: theoretical analysis of philosophical, psychological and pedagogical studies on the problem of the anthropological approach to education, educational activities’ modeling, examination and reflection on organization of student’s subjectivity characteristics, diagnostics of the quality of his/her subject position in education. Of exceptional importance were the procedures and methods of humanitarian research on educational innovations: phenomenological description of design precedents in innovative educational practices, textualization, analytical commentary, analytical generalization, typologization, conceptualisation. We also used methods of qualitative analysis: the case-study method, focused and research interviews, and the organization of focus groups. As a result of the research, the anthropological characteristics of the student’s subjectivity are revealed; the article illustrates the activity conditions for the person’s subjectivity formation and subject position in self-education, and thus, the methodology for solving the problem of studying the students’ subjectivity quality through the analysis of existing forms of educational and organizational activity is justified.

Keywords: Student’s subjectivitysubjecteducational activitiesresearch methodologyprojectinganthropological approach


The subjectivity formation, the participants’ subject position in education today is considered as a direct educational result, which is due to both the interpretation of the competence approach to education (competence as a system of personal quality) and the activity nature of subjectivity, the conditions for its existence and development of its quality. Psychological and pedagogical researches reveal methods and technologies for developing subjectivity and analyzing its quality among the participants of educational practice. The meaning of the concepts “subject”, “subjectivity” and “subject position” is particularly important to this research. These concepts are outlined in the works of such researches as McGushin (2010), Znakov (2018), Abulkhanova (2016), Petrovskiy (2015) and Slobodchikov (2009), et al. The authors of the article, following the Russian psychologists, understand the subject as a person at the highest (individualized for everyone) level of activity, integrity (system), autonomy, etc. the subject is ‘a set of cognitive, action-practical, content-ethical relations towards the world. Person’s subjectivity by its nature is associated with the ability of an individual to turn his/her own livelihood into an item of practical transformation. The essential features of this process are the person’s ability to manage his/her actions, actually transform the reality, plan the ways of action, implement the planned programmes, monitor the progress and evaluate the results of his/her activity. The subject position is a stable system of human attitudes towards the world, other people and oneself, allowing him/her to consciously, responsibly and freely build his/her life in society, as well as make life choices and actions, the main criteria of which are the values accepted by the individual (Abulkhanova, 2016; Slobodchikov, 2009; Znakov, 2018). The institutionalization of subjectivity formation, the development of a comprehensive program for the study on the formation and of students’ subjectivity evaluation as an educational result in a modern university becomes relevant.

Problem Statement

In substantiating the research methodology of student’s subjectivity formation, we rely on a humanitarian approach, which is based on the involvement of the subject of activity in its development. This ability characterizes the student as a subject of educational activity. Within the framework of the anthropological approach, there is a rethinking of the essence of education itself: understanding it as a space for meaning formation, personal communication, humanitarian environment, educational reality, where the person himself takes part in the design and creation. In the anthropological approach context, education is beyond personal, but also a project action of a person. Of particular relevance is the use of educational technologies that allow you to organize independent content and forms of activity planning in the educational process and are not tied to a specific subject content, but rather implement a non-objective, interdisciplinary component of educational activities (Huang et al., 2019; Keinanen et al., 2018). This allows us to raise the problem of using the projecting for the person’s formation and education in the process of designing education as a social practice. At the same time, the student’s participation in the projecting is not only a way to influence the social and educational practice, but also a way of his/her own development (‘self-development’), the realization of his/her essential powers and potentials, ‘self-realization’ (Galazhinskiy, 2015). We relied on works that consider design and project method as an educational technology and a means of changing the quality of education (Bono, 2019; Collini, 2016; Kerr et al., 2019; Leshukov & Froumin, 2017).

Research Questions

To substantiate the research methodology of students’ subjectivity formation in educational activities, we rely on humanitarian and anthropological approaches, in which subjectivity is represented as personal activity and action of a person in education, and its quality is determined by the involvement and participation of a person in self-education. How the students’ subjectivity formation is organised in the educational environment by means of implementing the self-education projecting?

Purpose of the Study

The purpose is to substantiate the research methodology of students’ subjectivity quality in the framework of humanitarian, anthropological and activity approaches to education.

In order to solve this problem, the methodology developed by us was based on the fundamental thesis that design in education has a high potential for the formation of the subject position of its participants. In our proposed methodology, subjectivity and subject position characterize as a person’s participation and influence on his/her own education. Projecting in education is considered as a way people participate and influence their own self-education; characterized as a form of practice organization, and its quality is ensured by the diversity of human intervention forms in educational practice, involvement in educational issues, reflection on the organization practices characteristics during projecting and subject position characteristics in this practice. At the same time, the educational possibilities of projecting are increased and strengthened when different forms of projecting are used in the organization’s practice, the transition from one form to another and their mutual complementarity.

Research Methods

The research methods used are: theoretical analysis of philosophical, psychological and pedagogical studies of the anthropological approach to education, modeling of activities, organization of expertise, reflection on projecting competencies and signs of participants’ subjectivity in joint activities in projects, analysis of materials and results of diagnostics of changes in the quality of the subject position of projecting participants. Procedures and methods of humanitarian research of educational innovations were of exceptional importance for us (Keinanen et al., 2018; Malkova, 2016): phenomenological description of projecting precedents in innovative educational practices, textualization, analytical commentary, analytical generalization, typologization, and conceptualization. We also used methods of qualitative analysis: the case-study method, focused and research interviews, and the organization of focus groups.

The appeal to the anthropological approach in our research is due to the task of substantiating subjectivity as a result of education aimed at the formation of a person as a subject of education and as a subject of his / her own life. The anthropological approach plays a key role in determining of individual values as a subject of education, highlighting the existential values of a person that reflect his own essential characteristics, awakening awareness of his/her own subjectivity, the desire to ‘be himself’. Subjectivity from the anthropology’s point of view is the ultimate form of human’s reality manifestation to others, associated with an individual’s ability to turn his/her own activities into the subject of practical transformation, allowing a person to be a real subject of his/her own life. The using of the anthropological approach in the subjectivity’s research can justify the mechanisms of its development from the perspective of the students’ interests, because the anthropological approach suggests the need to consider education as a person’s formation image, requiring reflection of the socially and culturally determined experience of understanding the individual, the actualization of knowledge about him.


Analyzing the concept’s essence of “education” from the anthropological approach point of view (Malkova, 2016; Slobodchikov, 2009; Teo, 2017; Ushinsky, 1990), we can talk about the understanding of subjectivity as an educational result, which allows us to reflect the idea of the self-worth of the person himself. The research methodology of student’s subjectivity is based on the person’s recognition in education as an open being, capable of development and change. To study the formation of subjectivity in education, it is important that a person’s potential in the process of education is revealed in the aggregate of its three main characteristics (personality, individuality, subject). Therefore, the anthropological approach, which reflects the system of ideas focused on a Person as a key category of this approach, becomes particularly relevant in the research methodology of subjectivity’s formation. The value of the subjectivity’s formation as an educational capital from the perspective of the anthropological approach is that a person is considered as a subject of action, using his accumulated experience. In this case, the psychological and pedagogical conditions of a student’s subjectivity formation as an educational result are freedom of action, choice, and responsibility for the consequences of their actions and deeds in educational activities. The modern knowledge society (McLuhan, 2018) creates a new image of a person, thus dictating the need for a radical reformation of the educational system, where knowledge and personal capital (subjectivity) play key roles. The reality of the “knowledge” paradigm in education is that a person must “build” himself, transforming and simultaneously forming his essence. At the same time, human freedom is actualized in the manifestation of subjectivity, the development of the ability to self-improvement, self-actualization, self-realization, which are important stages of the personal development and professional competence. For example, when an employee becomes a subject of his/her own professional activity, he/she forms a new subject trajectory in the professional community. There is a new configuration of the educational result – the subjective professional abilities of thinking and actions of the employee, where the subjective nature of knowledge is manifested, i.e. the impossibility of alienating it from the activities of its owner.

The anthropological approach in education

The anthropological approach in education is a focus on human reality in all its dimensions. Such definitions as “knowledge”, “activity” and “person” must be considered as a whole. The development of activity content in education provides the key in human development – the formation of his/her subjectivity as an ontological basis for all subsequent personal gains of a person.

The research methodology of students’ subjectivity formation includes an assessment of the university’s ability to create an educational space, which we define as a form of unity of people formed as a result of their joint educational activities (Shendrik, 2003). The subject’s educational space in the context of this definition is the space of its inclusion in the total educational space, which is a system set of real human interactions with reality, and given to the subject through perception and actions. The educational space is formed on the educational environment’s basis, through the development of the subject of cultural facts contained in it. In this case, the subject’s educational space provides opportunities for his development (Porter & Kramer, 2011).

Research results

Based on the anthropological foundation of the studies on subjectivity’s formation, we have determined that for the organization of educational space and the formation of student’s subject position of particular importance are:

  • experience of his/her participation in setting objectives of his/her education in conditions with a high degree of uncertainty;

  • involvement in the definition of the idea, setting problems, tasks of educational activity;

  • development of competence in projecting the educational activities by educational participants;

  • the universities’ innovative practice, which consists in the projecting organization as a special area of activity and subject of management, in the special training programme’s creation for the projecting of all subjects, participants of education.

Based on this, the research methodology of student’s formation subjectivity is on the analysis of the universities’ educational space. As criteria for evaluating the universities’ capabilities for the educational space’s formation of its subjects and their development, we have identified:

  • variety and dynamics of implemented forms of projecting organization that make it possible for students to choose them;

  • manifestation of diversity and dynamics of student’s subject positions in the training process;

  • students’ use of project competencies in the development and implementation of their individual educational profiles.

Thus, the study on the formation of student’s subjectivity in the university’s educational space is carried out by identifying and analyzing various forms of project activities organization at the university (educational, social, entrepreneurial, innovative projects; projects of educational activities organization, training programs for project activities, project competitions).

In this direction, we have identified and described the following forms of project organization (Fakhretdinova, 2018; Liventsova, 2018; Malkova, 2016).

The educational project as an organization’s form of educational activities is revealed through certain characteristics. The project’s purpose and objectives are determined by the course teacher, the program manager as the organizer of the project. The main factor influencing of a student’s subjectivity formation is the responsibility for creating a product. Project is characterized by the functions of distribution and execution for creating a specified type of product, a characteristic of becoming a subject in a training project is the joint distribution and effective execution of tasks for common product creating. The participant’s subject position is the performer of training tasks.

Educational, scientific-research project as a form of organization design is characterized by students’ and teachers’ involvement in setting goals and objectives project, build and implementation of work methods in the evaluation of research in product and organization reflection results of the project. The subjectivity’s formation occurs in the process of determining the project’s intent, ways of implementing it, evaluating results and reflecting on achievements. The subject position can be represented as a ‘developer of the education project’.

A special characteristic of becoming a participant in the educational and scientific events project is the experience acquisition in designing as a joint activity. In the process of developing and conducting educational and research events, the experience of joint project is acquired. In educational projects, as a condition of student’s subjectivity formation, their influence on the implementation of the project idea, the functional content’s development of educational activities at the stages of the educational project is organized. In social projects, as a condition of student’s subjectivity formation, their influence on the tasks and methods development of project implementation, the content’s development of social project is organized. In the research and educational projects’ competition, as a condition of the student’s subjectivity formation, their involvement in the project activities’ examination, its reflection as a subject of education is implemented. In the process of projecting an educational profile, the development of project takes place as a method that allows the student to set and solve his/her educational problems, create an individual educational profile to achieve educational goals and objectives in the educational space of the university. The development of an individual educational profile is possible only through the influence of the party’s education to build educational space and identify in it the individual trajectory. Therefore, the educational community acts as a subject of education, which becomes in the process of developing an educational profile and thus ensuring its effective design, and the subject position of the participant in the educational space is the "organizer of educational activities".


The result of the project organization is the identification and subjectivity’s formation, the subject position of a person in education. The subject position of participants in education is revealed by us in such characteristics as the influence on the goals setting and tasks of projecting educational activities; mastering the functional content and competencies of changing educational activities; mastering the competencies of involving and organizing different participants in educational activities in solving the problems of its change. These justification of characteristics allowed to determine possible subject positions in educational activities, including ‘performer of educational tasks’, ‘developer of educational tasks’, ‘developer of the education project’ and ‘organizer of educational activities’; to identify empirical characteristics of the positions’ implementation held by participants of educational activities in different project forms, and to prove that the characteristic of the formed subject position is the project of this activity’s profiles and their individual educational programs by participants of educational activities.

Using the materials of the analysis of the project organization in education, we prove that the need and necessity of project arises in a situation that characterizes the practice of modern research universities. It is in the practice of modern research universities that there is a need to jointly define the goals and objectives of education and science, which causes a change in the management content. At the same time, the practice of projecting organizations is characterized by a variety of tasks and the participants’ involvement in educational and research activities in their formulation and solution, which ensures different forms` development of the subject of project activity (project group, project team, educational community).


We have proved the possibility of using project expertise methods in education to analyze the quality of its participants’ subjectivity and identified the following criteria for the project practice organization efficiency in the university’s educational space:

  • variety and dynamics of implemented project forms, organization of their choice by educational participants;

  • diversity and dynamics of educational participant’s subject position in the training process;

  • manifestation and reflection of the subject position and participants’ transition in educational activities from the project tasks’ performer to the project activities’ organizer;

  • mastering project as a way to participate in their education and a means of building an individual educational profile in joint activities.

Thus, in substantiating the research methodology of subjectivity, we discuss projecting not only as an activity for changing and constructing practices, but also as a way of educating the person and his/her subject position.

Based on our research, it can be argued that the criteria used by us can be applied both for the analysis of educational activities, and in the methods’ development for studying the formation and quality of student’s subjectivity.

The following research results are presented: the psychological and pedagogical conditions of a person’s subjectivity formation and subject position in his/her education are revealed and thus represent: a way to implement humanitarian and anthropological approaches to the project organization in modern education; a way to solve the problem of education quality improving by involving participants in educational practice in its construction, strengthening their influence on the definition of goals, methods, forms of their education.

It is proved that the participants’ subjectivity formation in education is expressed in such subject positions as the educational tasks’ performer, the educational tasks’ developer, the educational activities’ organizer.

It was revealed that the projecting which is used in educational activities of a research university is the subjectivity of students’ development, transition from the ‘performer’ position to the ‘organizer of educational activities’ position, dynamics of different subjects’ education groups, educational, scientific research activities, including the study groups, project teams, educational community’s formation are carried out.

The research results allow to establish that the organization of project and development organization of its participants’ subjectivity in the university’s educational space is due to the management’s peculiarities and teachers’ training in the field of projecting, involve them in the educational programme’s development, mastering project management, their subject positions development in education and research.


The reported study was funded by RFBR according to the research project № 20-013-00549 "Formation of student's subjectivity in the psychological space of the modern educational campus: comparative analysis of European, Asian and Russian experience".


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26 October 2020

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Self-regulation, personal resources, educational goals, professional goals, mental health, digitalization

Cite this article as:

Malkova, I. Y., Liventsova, E. Y., Fakhretdinova, A. P., Tsuguleva, O. V., Kiseleva, P. V., & Larionova, A. V. (2020). Student's Subjectivity Formation: Methodology of Research. In V. I. Morosanova, T. N. Banshchikova, & M. L. Sokolovskii (Eds.), Personal and Regulatory Resources in Achieving Educational and Professional Goals in the Digital Age, vol 91. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 116-124). European Publisher.