Research Sweden

The research in Sweden is carried out at Göteborgs universitet by Margaretha Häggström.

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 1 This study will be carried out in Sweden, during spring 2021, in a primary school where all classes and teachers work with Storyline. This study is an interactive research study, which means that the teacher and the researcher work in co-operation. Interactive research studies integrate aspects of research, knowledge development, educational settings and learning outcomes (Svensson et al, 2002). This means to view the connection between practical action and learning and competence/knowledge development as interdependent. Knowledge development emerges through cooperation between researcher and practitioner, which also entails shared responsibility. Practitioners’ and researchers’ diverse interests, competences and roles are viewed as a richness (cf. Eikeland, 2012). This approach includes principles of participation and collaboration, democratic ideals and close connections between theory and practice, which underlie the classroom work as well as the research process. Interactive research has a reformative and transformative approach, similar to action research (ibid), and is inspired by hermeneutics and the tradition of interpretation, problem solving orientation and emancipatory goals (Rönnerman, 2004). From a pedagogical point of view, it is in our interest to examine the didactical subjects and issues in relation to sustainability, social as well as ecological. Three teachers and their classes will be involved in the study. The empirical data will be produced through participatory observation and interviews.