UMSER is a research environment with an open and collegial atmosphere, providing rich opportunities for collaboration and to give and receive constructive feedback to develop our research. The research within UmSER comprises quantitative, qualitative, and critical studies – which are often combined. The collegial discussions—often held within the UmSER seminar series—touch upon methodological and theoretical aspects of our research, but also upon issues relating to instructional practices.
Since 2004, about 20 dissertations have been produced and we currently have six PhD candidates. The research aims at increasing our knowledge about the importance of teaching, subject content, learning context, gender, epistemic beliefs and motivation for interest and learning in science. The research applies to both students and teachers and includes all stages of formal education, from preschool to university. Our research often has an applied approach and a potentially high degree of concern for teachers in schools and universities. Leaders of the research environment are Professor Mikael Winberg (also the seminar leader) and Professor Christina Ottander. Within UmSER, besides the general seminar series, we also have specialized seminar series led by Associate Professor Johanna Lönngren (focus on sustainable development) and Associate Professor Maria Berge (focus on gender)
Our research can be divided into five general areas, which briefly described below. For more information about the areas, please see the personal web pages of the contact persons.
Motivation and emotions have central roles in all learning. Within our motivation research, we study the relationships between different types of motivation and students’ subject knowledge, learning behavior, and emotions (from an educational psychology perspective). We are also interested in how students’ motivation changes over time, differences between different groups of students, and what role various factors in the teaching have for shaping students’ motivation. The relationship between students’ motivation and their view on knowledge and learning (i.e., epistemic beliefs) is a research area we would like to develop. In our research on emotions, we primarily apply social interactionist perspectives, exploring how students and educators express – and communicate about – emotions in interaction. We are particularly interested in the role of emotions in environmental and sustainability education.”.
Research that has identity perspective and a power perspective focus on discourses and their relation to education. That could be equity and diversity issues such as multicultural, bilingual, racial/ethnic, gender equity studies and science education for the special needs. What norms can we find in the science and technology classroom? Who feels welcomed and who does not?
Educators at all levels of education are today required to integrate sustainability into their teaching, but we still need a lot more research to better understand how such integration can be done successfully. Our research in this area focuses on education aimed at developing students’ action competence, preparing them for dealing with wicked sustainability problems, socio-scientific issues (SSI), value conflicts and irreducible uncertainty. We also study citizenship education and the role of emotions in environmental and sustainability education (see above).
The research focuses on how teaching cultures, work forms, and the physical environment interacts and affects learning in science and how to achieve continuity in the transitions between different school forms. For example, how and why drawing can contribute to teaching and learning in science in primary school. Another aim is to develop new ways to visually represent scientific concepts.
Within this area, we study how instructional practices influence students learning in science. The projects may be design-based and depart from co-operations between teachers and researchers, with the aim to improve instructional practices. Examples of projects/research questions are: how chemistry can be visualized by digital tools as Virtual Reality; how subject knowledge and inquiry can be learned through work with socio-scientific issues, or by situating learning in contexts relevant for students. Studies of teachers’ instructional practices and their development of didactical strategies are in progress.
We have close cooperation projects with several schools, preschools, and universities. Many of the projects involve both research and development of teaching. Umeå School of Education has under many years financed this type of collaboration and is now also participating in the national ULF-project (page unfortunately only in Swedish), which offers new ways to establish collaboration with schools.
UmSER regularly invites researchers, national and international, to exchange ideas and experiences. Nationally, we have research collaboration with Chalmers institute of Technology, University of Gothenburg, Dalarna University, Karlstad University Stockholm University, Uppsala University, and Örebro University. We have good connections with several European institutions (inter alia) through participation in three projects within Horizon 2020 (ESTABLISH, PARRISE, AND MULTIPLIERS). We also collaborate with researchers in USA, Canada, South Africa, Australia and Malaysia – and we are always interested in exploring new opportunities for collaboration.