Quality Literature Education (QUALE)

Quality Literature Education (QUALE) is a small-scale qualitative intervention project exploring an inquiry-based approach to literature education in Language Arts education across Nordic borders.

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The QUALE project draws on the completed large-scale research and development project Improving the Quality of Danish and Mathematics in Danish Lower-Secondary Education, abbreviated KiDM in a Danish context (which stands for Kvalitet i Dansk og Matematik).

Briefly, KiDM was a multi-pronged intervention program taking place from 2016-2019 focusing on inquiry-based teaching of Danish and Mathematics. Highlighting the Language arts design of KiDM, relevant for the QUALE project, the purpose was to improve the quality of literature teaching. A multiple intervention research program was designed, which established an initial program theory for improving the quality of literature education based on a phenomenological framework. The program theory was tested in both pilot and RCT studies in Danish lower-secondary education. Both quantitative and qualitative analyses have shown positive effects, while also highlighting limitations and, more broadly, the contextual nature of quality literature education. Quantitative analyses found that students’ literary interpretative competence increased significantly (SD: 0,2) and that weak students’ reading comprehension increased. Qualitative analyses found that the intervention was a dynamo for a majority of students’ engagement, as it challenged prior experiences and understanding of (their) life and self, while variations related to the choice of literary texts, among others, were also found. From a teacher perspective, the intervention was perceived as equally engaging because it succeeded in linking curricular ‘prescribed’ quality literary teaching with classroom practice. However, some argued that the approach might conflict with learning outcome goals tested in later written examination.



The assumption is that due to the existential nature of literature as well as language and cultural similarities in Nordic Language arts subjects, it is possible to extend the KiDM intervention across Nordic borders.

Specifically, QUALE aims at recontextualising, in a Nordic context, and redesigning, in a smaller scale, the material platform and didactic design of literature interventions developed and explored within KiDM. The platform is a user-friendly digital interface on the web that serves as a learning platform in the teaching and learning processes in the classroom. The platform has both student and teacher entries and comprises literary texts, tools, texts, exercises and prescriptions for the use of the materials by teachers and students. In a translated version of the platform, QUALE draws on the designed curriculum materials for two KiDM literature education modules, including one that takes the Danish short story “Plastichjerte” [Plastic heart] as its point of departure. When investigating the intervention,design-based research methods are applied for facilitating and observing the adaptation of these designs in a limited number of local school contexts in Language arts classrooms in at least two Nordic countries. Further, teachers participating in the QUALE project will meet and evaluate what they regard as the quality of the intervention in dialogue with teacher educators and researchers within and across national contexts. As such, the QUINT project’s theme 1 and 3 focusing on data collection and professional development in a Nordic context are brought together.

Research questions

Specifically, the comparative research project aims at exploring the following questions:

  1. How do students and teachers in Swedish, Norwegian and Danish classrooms transform inquiry-oriented design material for literature education in Language arts classrooms?
  2. How do teachers perceive the effects and interpret an inquiry-based approach in relation to contextual factors, needs and potentials for conducting literature education of a high quality?
  3. To what extent does local and/or national contexts, such as curricula, systemic constraints and local school resources, co-shape teachers’ and students’ transformations and understandings?
  4. What similarities and differences are found amongst participating teachers’ perception of the inquiry-oriented approach to literature education across Nordic countries?
  5. To what extent could the QUALE project validate and further elaborate a program theory for quality literature education?

What does local transformations of a learning resource designed for inquiry-oriented literature education tell us about inquiry-oriented teaching across Nordic countries?


  1. How do students and teachers enact, adapt and understand inquiry-oriented/based literature teaching?
  2. Which contextual factors co-shape the transformations?
  3. What are the conditions for inquiry-oriented teaching in the Nordic countries

Link to QUINT ambition

The QUALE research questions – and eventual analyses – will be discussed in relation to the broader QUINT ambition, which aims at understanding quality teaching from multiple perspectives. More specifically, we aim at addressing both subject-specific and more general and/or generic understandings of quality teaching also explored in the LISA Nordic Study and Connected Classrooms Nordic Study projects.

This project is part of the theme one “Studying teaching quality” within QUINT.
Published June 12, 2019 2:10 PM - Last modified Mar. 7, 2022 9:02 AM


Principal Investigators:

Professor Nikolaj Elf
University of Southern Denmark (SDU)

Assistant Professor Vibeke Christensen
University of Southern Denmark (SDU)


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