NERA 2020: QUINT PhD Symposium

At the NERA Conference 2020, the QUINT PhD Network presents "Researching teaching quality across Nordic lower secondary classrooms – a cross disciplinary perspective".

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NERA 2020: Rethinking the futures of education
in the Nordic countries

Symposium: Researching teaching quality across Nordic lower secondary classrooms – a cross disciplinary perspectiveImage may contain: Logo, Text, Font, Product, Brand.

When: Wednesday 4 March 2020

Roundtable organiser

Professor and QUINT Centre Director Kirsti Klette,
University of Oslo


Fritjof Sahlström

Åbo Academy, Åbo, Finland/QUINT

Marie Tanner

Karlstad University, Karlstad, Sweden/QUINT

Markku Hannula

University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland/QUINT

Michael Tengberg

Karlstad University, Karlstad, Sweden/QUINT


Various approaches are required when analyzing teaching quality and in the proposed symposium we use video classroom data from Nordic lower secondary classrooms to discuss features of teaching quality in respectively mathematics, language art and social science classrooms. Drawing on a comparative design (video capturing from 4 consecutive lessons in each subject in all countries) we discuss teachers’ instructional practices and possible implications for students learning across subjects and settings. We especially focus on the role of classroom discourse, teachers’ use of explicit instruction and goals, how teachers foster democratic and critical thinking and the use of technology. 

Scholars have come to agree around some key features essential for teaching quality emphasizing clarity of instruction, cognitive demands, classroom interaction and a supportive climate. Teachers’ use of scaffolding techniques, their presentation of content, facilitation of classroom discussions and technology and other learning sources, and provisions for a supportive climate have proven critical for teaching quality. The seven papers will address these aspects from different approaches and subject areas drawing on comparative data from all Nordic countries. Using Nordic classroom data for such an endeavor is especially interesting since the Nordic countries share many structural similarities (e.g. a comprehensive, non-tracked, non-streamed model of schooling; the tradition of national curricula; and an emphasis on inclusive and heterogeneous classrooms that pay attention to student-centered pedagogies). On the other hand, there are interesting cultural differences in instructional practices across the Nordic countries such as the amount of whole class teaching and classroom discussions (Klette et al., 2017), the role of technology (Olofsson et al., 2011) and scores on international achievement tests (OECD, 2018).  

Our concern in the present symposium is to discuss how different subjects and conceptual approaches might capture important differences between Nordic classrooms, and contribute to a better understanding of teaching quality from a Nordic perspective. The seven papers (two sessions: session A and session B) provide a first step for our comparative classroom ambition in the newly funded Nordic Center of Excellence “Quality in Nordic Teaching” (QUINT).  

Session A (papers 1-4) and session B (papers 5-7). This (double) symposium is a joint symposium between Network 15 Literacy Research and Network 19 Teachers work and teacher education. 

Paper 1 (Anna Nissen) discusses the role of literary discussions in Swedish and Norwegian Language Arts classrooms. 

Paper 2 and Paper 3 (Peter Aashamar and Valgardur Reynisson respectively) analyse democratic citizenship (Aashamar) and the role of classroom discourses (Reynisson) in social science classrooms,

Paper 4 (Jenny M Högström) discusses student agency in digitally rich lower secondary classrooms. 

Paper 5 (Alexander Selling) discuss how teachers use of goals influence mathematics instruction in respectively Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish classrooms.

Paper 6 (Johann Sigurjónsson) report from intellectual demands and classroom discourses in Icelandic mathematics classrooms.

Paper 7 (Jennifer Luoto) compare activity formats and mathematics instruction in Norwegian and Swedish-Finnish classrooms. 


Klette. K, Sahlström, F, Blikstad-Balas, M. et al. (2018). Justice through participation: Student Engagement in Nordic Classrooms. Education Inquiry, Volume 9 (1), pp 57-77.

OECD (2018). PISA 2015 Results in Focus, Paris: OECD 

Olofsson A.O. et al (2011).Uptake and Use of Digital Technologies in Primary and Secondary Schools. Nordic Journal of Digital Literacy, Vol.6. 

Published Feb. 24, 2020 10:42 AM - Last modified Feb. 24, 2020 10:42 AM