Key Research areas
The Faculty of Educational Sciences’ ten priority research areas reflect our research profile and demonstrate our academic breadth. The dynamic between the areas generates the potential to establish leading research communities. This puts the Faculty in a unique position, and provides a research-based foundation to address new problems in relation to childhood and adolescence, education, employment and participation in society as a Whole.
The research groups in the Faculty work in the different areas and ensure quality and relevance. The priority areas constitute the hub of our efforts to provide relevant, research-based and internationally attractive education programmes.
Ten priority research areas
1. Teaching, learning and subject didactics
In this area, the focus is on teaching and learning within and across subjects and learning activities. School research provides new and important insight into the connections between organization and teaching on the one hand and pupils’ learning outcomes on the other. Didactics related to different subjects, basic interdisciplinary skills and use of digital resources are key research themes, and the synergy between educational and subject didactic environments and involvement in national and international projects ensure a high quality. The development of a research methodology based on video documentation and the establishment of a video library for classroom research are examples of the research area’s innovative orientation, which together with the well-developed cooperation between educational and subject didactic communities give the Faculty’s research a comparative advantage both nationally and internationally.
2. Educational leadership, school reform and education governance
This research area addresses school reforms, educational leadership and the development of the school as an institution. The research covers themes such as knowledge policy, leadership, governance and accountability. Questions relating to planning, teaching and assessment are linked to fundamental issues in national and international education policy processes. For example, research investigates how forms of governance are changed in line with new expectations for the school and how national and local education policies are formulated, interpreted and implemented in the interplay with global trends. Innovation, new interaction patterns between levels and contributors, and how power and influence are distributed in the education system are also examined. Research in this area provides knowledge on how educational policies and practices are formed in complex societies, and throws light on the significance of governance and leadership in the implementation of curricula and educational reforms.
3. National and international studies of competence development from pre-school age to adulthood
This research area focuses on cognitive and socio-emotional competence development in kindergartens, schools, higher education and adult life. International studies such as PISA and TIMSS provide basic knowledge on the results of Norwegian education in a comparative perspective. Research relating to national tests provides information about Norwegian pupils and students’ competence development in the light of Norwegian curricula. This research is extremely valuable to society, and the Faculty has unique national and international competence in quantitative education studies and psychometric analyses. A key task in this area is the development of methods whose purpose is to ensure comparability in such datasets, including comparisons across demographic and social strata nationally and between countries and education systems. Another question relates to how the relationship between teaching and pupils’ competence development can be modelled so that analyses more clearly illustrate causal research questions. One of the main future ambitions is therefore to develop research with a longitudinal design.
4. Humanities studies in education
Within this field of research, educational phenomena associated with childhood and adolescence, education and formation are examined. In today’s society, with wide cultural diversity and rapidly changing knowledge, humanistic research in pedagogics is experiencing a revival, and new themes and theories are being examined as fresh challenges to democracy and values arise. Humanities studies of education explore aspects of educational goals, processes and institutions related to forms of understanding and critical thinking, visualization, ethics, aesthetics and policies. Established key topics are ethics policy formation, cognition, knowledge formation, forms of recognition, citizenship and world citizenship. This research raises important fundamental questions, and historical, philosophical and epistemological analyses help us to understand, criticize and substantiate educational activities and educational research. This field of research represents an integral part of the Faculty’s research portfolio.
5. Higher education and workplace learning
This area focuses on how the development of knowledge and changes in political, economic and social conditions affect higher education and workplace learning. Themes addressed are how higher education and workplace learning qualify for participation in knowledge-intensive work, how expertise is managed and developed through institutional practices, and how knowledge policy sets the terms for such processes over time. The area includes studies of universities and colleges as institutions, studies of political processes aimed at research and education, local studies of teaching and learning in various disciplines and professions, and studies of how knowledge practices in education and workplace contexts interact in the development of expert cultures. Studies of interdisciplinary environments and expert-user relationships are also covered. Research in this area furthers the understanding of the conditions for learning and developing knowledge in today’s society, and of how expertise is institutionalized and further developed in different organizational contexts.
6. Children and youth: Identity, learning trajectories and education
This research area focuses on children and young people in modern, multicultural Norway, and particularly at the interaction between the school and other arenas. Examples of such arenas are organized sports, leisure activities, ethnic networks, different forms of family life and globalized media. The research provides important knowledge on how young people from different linguistic, cultural and social backgrounds learn in and across contexts such as school, home, and physical or virtual peer communities. Analyses of children and young people’s participation on different arenas and educational trajectories are studied in light of the formation of identity, gender, ethnicity, social background, changes in family patterns, and the values, norms and perceptions of reality that peer networks represent. Studies in this field will also give us new knowledge about how pupils and students’ backgrounds and knowledge affect their choices and future directions. The research follows a variety of methodological approaches, but qualitative longitudinal studies play a particularly important role.
7. Language development, text comprehension and literacy
The core of the research in this area focuses on identifying factors that form the basis of the development of language skills and literacy from pre-school age to adulthood. The research also examines the interaction between language and literacy and other skills such as memory, problem solving and mathematics. Part of the research focuses on language skills and literacy in children, young people and adults who have a typical development, for example by examining a child’s language and literacy development over time, or young people and adults’ abilities in critical reading and learning in the information society. The development of language skills and literacy in different risk groups is also a central part of the research. In addition, research in this area has a special focus on minority language groups. The research has a major practical relevance and an applied perspective since it helps to develop knowledge about the impact of measures and interventions from kindergarten to upper secondary school. A key ambition is to become a leading international research community in this area of research.
8. Special needs education
This research area focuses on knowledge of processes that promote development, learning, proficiency and inclusion in a lifetime perspective. The area provides important insight into education, with an emphasis on special education and special educational measures. Particular attention is given to various physical and learning disabilities, such as hearing problems, language and speech problems, specific learning disabilities, psychosocial problems and mental impairment/severe learning disabilities. Language development and language difficulties are central in several of these subject areas. The development of a learning lab with a particular emphasis on observation and testing will help breathe new life into this field of research and contribute to a more innovative academic community. The learning lab will also support interdisciplinary collaboration in the Faculty and nationally, and will contribute to a stronger international orientation. Practical and interdisciplinary research, and theory and methodology development are key inputs to this research area.
9. Teacher education and professional development in schools
This area is aimed at the content, organization and significance of teacher education and teachers’ professional development. Key research topics include integration and coherence between subject knowledge, pedagogy, subject didactics and practice in teacher education. The content, structure and significance of teacher education have been the subject of extensive and intense debate, but research into teacher education is scant in Norway. The transition from teacher education programmes to the teaching profession is also examined, and particularly how mentoring can help support new teachers in their encounter with practical experience. Other research topics are teachers’ professional development in a career perspective, and teachers’ participation and development in professional communities. Research in this area provides important new knowledge about teacher education and about factors that can stimulate the professional development of teachers.
10. Culture, cognition and technology: learning in digital environments
Within this area of research, the focus is on how different digital environments and tools mediate various learning processes and learning outcomes in the interaction between culture and cognition. Technological advances enable knowledge to be represented and organized in new ways (e.g. visualization and simulation), which creates specific learning challenges. Learning based on multiple resources is an important area in our understanding and explanation of learning in today’s society. Studies of learning trajectories in and outside educational institutions are therefore important in this area, and the analysis of competence challenges in the 21st century in relation to the future labour market and society is a central component. Also, the field of “learning analysis” creates new opportunities to understand pupils and students’ learning. Using digital tools for learning analysis allows us to investigate process data and data on the pupils/students’ learning outcomes in context. Research in this area will provide us with new knowledge on how learning conditions are changing socially, culturally and cognitively in an increasingly digitized knowledge society.