HEDWORK projects

Below you find short info about current and former research projects in which HEDWORK members are involved. Click on the links or see the entries for each member for more information.

Current Projects

Changing competence requirements in public services: Consequences of digitalization in general and highly specialized work (CORPUS)

The CORPUS project will generate new knowledge about how work-related skills and competencies are transformed in specific ways as a consequence of digitization processes in the Public health services.

Funded by The Research Council of Norway, programme for Welfare, working life and migration VAM (2019-2023)

Project contact: Monika Nerland

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PeTS; Faculty peer-tutoring in teaching and supervision - Innovation teacher collaboration practices in Norwegian higher education

The main aim of the project is to create collaborative teaching and supervision practices among teachers in higher education. Based on the systematic intervention, research-based knowledge will be developed about peer tutoring.

Funded by The Norwegian Research Council`s FINNUT program (2018-2021)

Project contactLine Wittek

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Horizontal governance and learning dynamics in higher education (HORIZON)

The HORIZON project is aimed at contributing to an improved understanding of major change dynamics in higher education with respect to higher education governance and learning processes in higher education institutions, as well as the way these two are connected.

Funded by the Research Council of Norway (2012-2016)

Project leaders: Peter Maassen and Monika Nerland

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Quality of Norwegian Higher Education: Pathways, Practices and Performances

This project is a research based evaluation with focus on factors and mechanisms that influence the quality of Norwegian higher education. The project is based on collaboration between IPED and NIFU, with the latter as the project owner and IPED as a main partner. Additional cooperative partners with IPED are also the Arctic University (UiT) and University college of Lillehammer (HiL).

Funded by the Norwegian Research Council through the FINNUT program (Research and Innovation in the Educational Sector)

Project leaders: Agnete Vabø (NIFU) and Peter Maassen (ExCID)

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Higher eduction learning outcomes: Learning outcomes transforming Higher Education? (HELO)

The primary objective of the project is to analyse how learning outcomes are understood, interpreted and practiced in varying higher education contexts, most notably across different fields of science and types of higher education institutions, and to clarify to what extent, and under what conditions, learning outcomes result in changes in administrative arrangements, or in teaching and learning activities. The project is a collaboration between NIFU, ExCID, UiB and HiOA

Funded by the Norwegian Research Council through the FINNUT program for Research and Innovation in the Educational Sector. (2012 - 2016)

Project leader: Nicoline Frølich (NIFU)

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Formation and Competence Building of Academic Developers

One aim of this project is to develop and strengthen communities of practice among researchers and academic developers to build competence in academic development and understand the formation of academic developers. Another aim will be to contribute new knowledge on the formation and competence of academic developers in their work with university teachers and leaders, knowledge that will subsequently be used to improve study programs and teaching. Collaborative partners are researchers and academic developers from the Arctic University of Tromsø, Örebro University, Uppsala University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and University College of Dublin.

Funded by the Norwegian Research Council through the FINNUT program for Research and Innovation in the Educational Sector. (2015 - 2019)

Project leader: Tone Dyrdal Solbrekke

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Does it matter? Assessing the performance effects of changes in leadership and management structures in Nordic Higher Education

The project's primary objective is to undertake a thorough (qualitative and quantitative) comparative investigation on the relationship between changes in the formal leadership and managerial structures of public universities across the Nordic countries and performance shifts in the realms of
teaching/learning and research.

Funded by the Norwegian Research Council through the FINNUT program for Research and Innovation in the Educational Sector. (2014 - 2017)

Project leader: Romulo Pinheiro (University of Agder; Associate member of ExCID)

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PhD projects (current)

Enrolment to the expert culture of law: A study of knowledge practices in higher education

Cecilie Enqvist-Jensen (2013-2017)

The aim of this PhD-project is to gain insight into how law students become a part of and learn to master the legal expert culture and its specific ways handling knowledge. This study will supplement the existing research on professional learning and learning in higher education by including social and institutional dimensions as well as highlighting the way expert cultures form learning. In this project – a case study of the 5-year integrated program of law at the University of Oslo – I am concerned with what kinds of problems are addressed, as well as what knowledge strategies the students are working with in the master program. In my project I zoom in on students´ work with core principles of legal methodology as a way of becoming a part of the expert culture of law. More specifically, I am interested in how the students master and identify with methodological principles at different stages in the program. My empirical work will consist of video based observations of student group activities and instructional processes, document analysis of course material and texts and interviews with students. My project is linked to the on-going research project Horizontal Governance and Learning Dynamics in Higher Education.

Supervisor: Monika Nerland

Discourses of responsibility in pre-service teacher education

Caro Kirsebom (2013-2017)

The projects interest is primarily in how understandings of subjects, structures of address / terms of recognition, differences, narratives of development and agency, conflicts and relations are premising the processes of identification as “responsible professional”. Also, how are the different ages of the pupils in the two focus groups (teacher education for grades 1-7, and high school) apparent / made relevant in the citations about responsibility, teaching, agency and pedagogical relations? Further: how are common discourses and practices of reflexivity in teacher education and teaching involved along these lines of interest? A central goal is also developing a creative and useful deconstructive methodological approach to these constitutive practices that are difficult to conceptualize, “get at” and problematize on individual and societal levels. More

Supervisor: Tone Dyrdal Solbrekke

How do universities address the emerging demands concerning learning environment?

Iyad Abualrub (2011-2015)

This research identifies the main challenges that the demands for improved learning environments, introduced in the recent higher education studies and polices, present to the universities’ institutionalized characteristics, emphasized in the institutional studies in higher education, and attempts to explore, through an empirical study, how the universities can respond to the introduced demands in the light of these challenges; in other word, how they can deal with these challenges when developing their responses to the demands introduced. The main objective of the research is to find what directs the universities’ behaviour and responses to the recent demand concerning their learning environments and the institutional challenges associated with these demands, and how. More

Supervisor: Bjørn Stensaker

Learning Outcomes in Norwegian and English degree programmes

Rachel Sweetman (2013 - 2017)

The project uses a multi-level, comparative approach to explore how learning outcomes are interpreted and operationalized in two national systems (Norway and England) and in contrasting disciplinary areas. Some aspects of the project and some Norwegian data collection will be linked to the Higher Education Learning Outcomes (HELO) project, a collaboration between NIFU, PFI, HiOA and the University of Bergen, funded by the Norwegian Research Council. More

Supervisor: Bjørn Stensaker

Teachers’ handling of new knowledge challenges at the interface between known and unknowns

Eli Tronsmo (2014 - 2018)

The thematic focus for the PhD project is teachers handling of knowledge challenges related to changing conditions for teachers’ work and learning. Empirically, the project will examine the knowledge practices of lower secondary school teachers in concrete situations of local curriculum work where knowledge is selected, negotiated and further developed to inform their teaching. More

Supervisor: Monika Nerland

Feedback practices in Norwegian higher education

Rachelle Esterhazy (2014-2018)

This project focuses on feedback practices in Norwegian higher education as part of the project ‚Quality of Norwegian Higher Education: Pathways, Practices and Performances‘. It aims at producing in-depth knowledge about process quality by observing feedback processes in depth in different teaching activities and various disciplinary settings.

Supervisors: Monika Nerland and Helge Strømsø

The role of learning- and knowledge-based dynamic capabilities on small firms’ innovativeness

Parisa Afshin (2015-2019)

The focus of the current research project is to unfold the underlying factors in innovation performance of the new technology-based firms from the dynamic capability perspective. To do so, some selected new firms, operating in biotechnology industry, will be studied in four different countries concerning their learning- and knowledge-based dynamic capabilities.

Supervisor: Terje Grønning

Higher education governance – exploring effective coordination

Philipp Friedrich (2015-2019)

The PhD project focuses on government and governance quality of higher education (institutions) on the system level. The underlying assumption of the project is that institutions - and the way they are designed - are crucial for the socio-political order and the bureaucratic effectiveness of a state thereby contributing to overall human well-being and societal development (see especially Holmberg and Rothstein 2012). In this respect this study wants to identify the “equilibrium” of (institutional) autonomy and capacity (Fukuyama 2013) especially in the higher education domain and knowledge space. Reason behind this is that higher education as a policy domain is supposed to deliver more and more solutions for other sectors of the public domain (e.g. economic growth, innovation, health, education, social inclusion, etc.) without knowing how this sector itself should be governed effectively. The purpose of this study is to contribute to a conceptualisation of coordination mechanisms for higher education and the knowledge space in order to raise governance effectiveness and bureaucratic quality.

Supervisor: Peter Maassen

Past Projects (selected)

European integration in higher education and research in the Western Balkans (NORGLOBAL)

2011 - 2013

Reliable data and solid analysis of systems of higher education and research are crucial for the ongoing processes of integration of WB countries to EU and NATO, as well as the underlying reforms taking place in a number of policy areas. However, the necessary data about the countries in the region does not exist yet in a consolidated form; therefore it is not possible to study these issues in a comparative manner. So far, this has resulted in the lack of solid evidence basis for policy development on the national or regional level. Higher education institutions or research centres on their own seem not to have the necessary capacity (technical or human) to develop and maintain the data base and do the analysis.

For further information see external project website.

European Flagship Universities (FLAGSHIP)


FLAGSHIP examines the ways in which European flagship universities have adapted over the last ten years to far-reaching changes in their political and socio-economic environments, and the extent to which these adaptations are initiated and implemented by the institutional leadership or as a consequence of external change drivers. A ‘FLAGSHIP’ university is defined as a comprehensive research-intensive university, located in one of its country’s largest urban areas. A FLAGSHIP university is in general among the oldest and largest institutions for higher learning of its country. 

For further information see external project website

LiKE - Learning Trajectories in Knowledge Economies


The LiKE project conducts multi-level and comparative studies of learning and knowledge development in different professional fields. Special attention is given to the role of knowledge objects and artefacts in linking practices of workplace learning with wider knowledge frontiers. The project is a strategic research initiative at the University of Oslo, Faculty of Education, which received funding from the Research Council of Norway in the years 2007-2011. However several PhD projects linked with LiKE are still running, and the project group is involved in and publishes from cross-case analyses.

For further information see external project website

Professional learning in a changing society (ProLearn)

This project is a comparative study of learning in the transition from education to work among nurses, teachers, accountants and computer engineers. Drawing on insights from socio-cultural learning theories as well as from the sociology of knowledge, the project aims to develop theories on professional learning in a direction that is sensitive to the shifts in knowledge and culture characteristic of today's society. Results from the project are presented in this book.

Innovation, Path-dependency and Policy (IPP)

IPP is a collaborative research project between participants at TIK at the University of Oslo and NIFUSTEP focusing on a study of the Norwegian economy seen from a path dependence perspective.

National Systems of Innovation in a Globalising, Knowledge- Based Economy

The purpose of the project is twofold. First, it will operationalise the "national systems of innovation" approach in order to contribute to assessments of the consequences of globalisation for innovation and welfare in open economies in the developed world. This will be achieved by means of a comparative study of the national systems of innovation in Denmark, Finland, Hong Kong, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, and Taiwan. Second, the project will theoretically refine the "national systems of innovation" approach, by developing concepts and methodologies suitable for such analyses.

Follow-up of the Copenhagen process: Research into forms of individual career development and continuing vocational training (CVT)

The research project (with duration from 2008 - 2009) aims at investigating employees’ responses and strategies as they are required to cope with flexible employment patterns, changing skills requirements and instabilities at work. The investigation in particular addresses how workers use learning and continuing vocational training to shape their individual careers.

"national systems of innovation" approach, by developing concepts and methodologies suitable for such analyses.

HERANA - Towards the Establishment of a Higher Education Research and Advocacy Network in Africa

This projects focus is on some of the complex links between higher education and economic development in Africa, with explicit aims to also provide information and establish networks for both researchers and policy-makers in Africa.

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Horizon 2020 pre-project

The main aim of this proposed pre- project is to further develop the recently started research corporation aimed at studying the interactive relationship between the role of knowledge and its institutions, and political and societal transformations in Europe that Norwegian higher education is embedded in.

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Learning About Quality (LEAQ)

The primary aim of this "Utdanning 2020" pre-project is to identify existing macro- and meso-level data, as well as some examples from micro-level data, on learning outcomes in the Norwegian higher education system, and to categorise and analyse the potential of these data as an input for a broader and more thorough theoretical understanding and analysis of student learning as this might be expressed through the launching of a national qualification framework.

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Published Mar. 3, 2015 5:36 PM - Last modified Oct. 18, 2019 1:01 PM