Research Finland

The research in Finland is carried out at Åbo Akademi by Ann-Catherine Henriksson.


Three research studies will be carried out within the project. Together the research studies provide knowledge from classroom work in primary schools as well as from teacher education. This knowledge will play a crucial role for further development regarding education and issues of sustainability, both directly at a school level, and indirectly at teacher education. These two directions will enrich the two sectors and build a strong foundation for future work on education that includes sustainability.


The research part of the project will produce at least three academic articles in peer reviewed journals, relevant for improving education for the future. Relevant journals are for example Teaching and Teacher Education, Journal of Education for Sustainable Development and Environmental Education Research.


The articles will be presented at conferences; apart from the Storyline conference in Gothenburg 2022, we may present the results at Nordic Educational Research Association (NERA), Nordisk fagdidaktisk konferens (NOFA) and European Conference on Educational Research (ECER).


The articles will also be presented in popular academic journals. Aim and research questions The overall aim of the research is to explore a meaningful, positive, constructive, active and sustainable way of teaching and learning, and to examine in what ways the implemented Storyline work in the three schools in the three countries addresses perspectives on sustainability. The study will be guided by the questions of what, how, why so, who will do what, for whom are the activities planned, which are the underlying ideas/pedagogical theories, what are the driving forces and what are the anticipated outcomes.


The intention is to elucidate these didactic principles. Research questions:

  • How are the actual lessons planned? (What are they based on theoretically, practically and from what kind of best practice?).
  • What kinds of activities are made possible through the teaching and learning activities?
  • In what way are issues of sustainability integrated in the Storyline?
  • How do the students experience the planned activities? • How is students’ emancipation encouraged through the Storyline-work?


One way of promoting reflective practice and provide a concatenated pedagogical approach, including a creative student-centred pedagogy, is to implement Storyline in educational settings, both in primary school and at teacher education programmes. Storyline is a problem-based, cross-curricular and topic-based approach that focuses on teaching and learning through an advancing narrative (Bell & Harkness, 2013, Ahlquist, 2015). It has a dynamic and flexible approach, inclusiveness towards different learners and recognises multi-sensory dimensions as essential parts of learning process. The Storyline approach has recognised the ‘power and potential of stories in learning’ (Mitchell & McNaughton, 2016, p.9) since the 1960s, when Bell, Harkness and Rendell, at Jordanhill College of Education in Glasgow, developed the Storyline approach (Bell & Harkness, 2016). A narrative frame creates the context in which a number of incidents (the plot) occur. This entails the participants’ ownership and thus control over the learning process (Bell & Harkness, 2013, p. 2). Use of the Storyline approach in the learning process generates surprising incidents in the classroom. The articles will be written in English, Swedish, Finnish and Norwegian. The research study has a qualitative multiple approach design, i.e. different synthesising procedures (Brewer & Hunter, 2006, Creswell & Plano Clark, 2010). A qualitative research gives priority to the aims of the research (Morgan, 2007). Focus will be on contexts and interaction and integration, to provide in-depth information about the understanding of concepts and settings. This research design consists of three part-studies, described under each country.


Study three This study will be carried out in Finland. The teachers in a primary school have plans to start a new project “Pupils as agents for sustainability” in autumn 2020. The Storyline approach is new for the teachers. The researcher will, in cooperation with one of the teachers, plan and implement a Storyline project about sustainability in one of the classes in January 2021. The two parallel projects in the school will be followed up with research and result in two separate articles where the concepts agency, sustainability and resilience are viewed from the pupils’ perspective. The main research questions are: What kinds of topics and questions do the children see as important to work with according to sustainable development? What are the children’s perceptions about their role in sustainable development and their capability to handle disorienting dilemmas, i.e. experiences that triggers a questioning of assumptions, resulting in transformed beliefs. The empirical data will be collected through interviews. In the analysis procedure, thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006) will be used.

Dr. Ann-Catherine Henriksson has a doctoral degree in education. Her research

focuses on general education (e.g. assessment for learning, learning environments) and subject specific education. The topic of her doctoral thesis was Primary school teachers´ perceptions of science education. Her most recent articles are Primary school teachers´ perceptions of out-of-school learning within science education

(2018) and Inquiry-based learning and teachers´ professional development (in

review). In the work with the current national Finnish curriculum Dr. Henriksson was a member in the working group for the science subject "omgivningslära";. Assigned by e.g. the Finnish National Board of Education she is working with the implementation of the new curriculum. Dr. Henriksson is a member of several national and international networks, e.g. ESERA, and she has international assignments for

ESA/Nordic ESERO and Storyline International. Dr. Henriksson works mostly with teachers´ in-service education.