2020 - Published articles
Patricia Segura Valdes and Jórunn Elídóttir
“I would invite her to play with me” Fostering respect, care and participation in a preschool: An action research project
This article reports an action research project on how democratic values implemented in teaching promote the awareness and sensitivity of social values. The research aimed to awaken children´s awareness of democratic values and to observe effective ways of teaching them. The findings showed, among other things, that children´s awareness of democratic values grew with the use of value-based literature. The study provides important insights into organized preschool activities in children´s daily lives.
2018 - Published articles
Brynja E. Halldórsdóttir and Susan E. Gollifer
A view towards internationalisation at the University of Iceland: Lessons learned from the International Studies in Education Programme.
A special programme at the Univeristy of Iceland aims to provide educational opportunities for a diverse student population in the Icelandic higher educational context. The authors conduct a concept analysis of strategic policies of the University of Iceland and its aims at internationalisation in relation to changing demographics within the student population. They propose a broader definition of internationalisation and argue for increased recognition of the programme´s contribution to the univeristy´s internationalisation policy. The intention is to contribute to the dialogue on what constitutes quality international higher education at local, national and global levels.
Svanborg R. Jónsdóttir
Exchanging curriculum ideas for 21st century education
Over the last 20 years the use of methods of innovation and entrepreneurial education have been developing in Iceland, as well as other countries. Australia has developed a curricular area that is similar, in many ways, to parts of innovation education in Iceland. This article presents the author´s research on how teachers in one primary school in Brisbane, Australia, implement elements of innovation education in their students´ school work and how they categorize such education.
Framhaldskólinn í brennidepli
Valgerður S. Bjarnadóttir
Building bridges and constructing walls: Subject hierarchies as reflected in teachers’ perspectives towards student influence
This study aims to explore how teachers from various academic subjects and programmes describe their pedagogic practice. It draws on interviews with 16 upper secondary school teachers in Iceland, representing different schools and subjects. The study shows constructions of subject hierarchies in the schools and the findings mirror stereotypical notions of students´ capacity, with students enrolled in programmes other then the natural sciences being preceived by the teachers as lacking the ability to succeed in mathematics.
2017 - Published articles
Gerd Grimsæth and Bjørg Oddrun Hallås
When travelling ideas meet local contexts: Norwegian teachers trying out ‘lesson study’
In the fields of school reform and teacher development, certain ‘globally travelling ideas’ have become significant. This article reports on a study of a small sample of Norwegian teachers trying out the Lesson Study (LS) idea that aimed to explore what happens when globally travelling reform ideas are enacted in local contexts. Specifically, the study considered the groups’ analyses of their jointly planned and videotaped research lessons. The research questions are: What do the teachers talk about when they are asked to collaborate in their analysis of their jointly planned research lesson? What does this reveal about the pre-existing norms of collaboration? The themes the teachers are discussing, are: (I) pupils’ task completion, (II) pupils’ behaviour, (III) teachers’ performance and (IV) the pupils and they themselves as professionals. In this study, it became evident that the participants’ lack of experience in collaboration or in using the LS had an impact on the analysis of their research lessons. The results are viewed in the light of the mediating role that local cultures of schooling and professionalism cast on the enactment of travelling ideas; specifically on the forms of collaboration among teachers.
2016 - Published articles
Námsrými félagslegs réttlætis og menntunar án aðgreiningar/Learning spaces for inclusion and social justice
Anh-Dao Tran, Samúel Lefever and Hanna Ragnarsdóttir
Equitable Pedagogical Practice in Culturally Diverse Classrooms: Perspectives of Teachers and Students in Upper Secondary Schools
Í grein Anh-Dao Tran, Samúel Lefever and Hönnu Ragnarsdóttur, Equitable Pedagogical Practice in Culturally Diverse Classrooms: Perspectives of Teachers and Students in Upper Secondary Schools er fjallað um helstu niðurstöður eigindlegs rannsóknarverkefnis í þremur framhaldsskólum. Verkefnið er hluti af norræna rannsóknarverkefninu Námsrými félagslegs réttlætis og menntunar án aðgreiningar: Frásagnir um velgengni nemenda af erlendum uppruna og skóla á fjórum Norðurlöndum (2013-2015).
2015 - Published articles
Hróbjartur Árnason and Halla Valgeirsdóttir
Why do people with little formal education not participate in lifelong learning activities? The views of adult educators
The fact that adults chose to spend otherwise free time on participating in adult education courses used to fascinate researchers. But when lifelong learning was discovered to be a driving force for the economy, participation in learning activities became an adult’s obligation, and thus, those who stay away have become interesting. This paper adds a new point of view to the picture by adding the perspective of adult educators – people who have regular interactions with both non-participants and participants, and thus gives a different vantage point than prior research has given. The authors present the results of a qualitative study based on small focus group interviews with a total of 22 adult educators from eight lifelong learning centres in Iceland. According to their findings a large portion of non-participants with lower levels of formal eduation, express a longstanding desire to further their education but many stay away because of insecurity, distrust in their learning abilities and negative earlier experience of school. The results indicate that a substantial number of non-participants in Iceland stay away from organized learning because of prior bad experiences and a lack of self-esteem. These findings should encourage lifelong learning organizations to design and present their offerings in ways that take this insecurity into account.
Kolbrún Þ. Pálsdóttir
Integrated learning in schools and leisure-time centres: Moving beyond dichotomies
Leisure-time centres for young school children operate on the periphery of the education system and are built on a leisure-time pedagogy that is inherently experiential and child-centred. When exploring views towards the young learner, two main frameworks come to the surface: the traditional developmental framework that looks at children as vulnerable subjects, and the social framework that recognizes children as active subjects. The author delineates a new conceptual philosophy for learning, namely integrated learning, which rejects the above dichotomies between formal and in-formal, objects and subjects. Such a framework describes the learning trajectories of children and serves to guide interdisciplinary professional collaboration between schools and leisure-time centres.
Ólafur Páll Jónson
Space for play: The dilemma of radical outdoor education
The continuity thesis and radical outdoor education refer to two views of education, both of which seem plausible (and both of which are variously supported by empirical evidence). The first emphasizes continuity while the second emphasizes a sharp break with continuity. While the continuity thesis seems initially plausible, it is incompatible with the claim that radical educational settings, which make a sharp break with previous experience, are conducive to learning. The author refers to this as the dilemma of radical educational settings.
2014 - Published articles
Gunnar Börkur Jónasson, Allyson Macdonald and Guðrún Kristinsdóttir
Student demands and a thematic approach to teaching and learning at the University College of Education in Iceland in 1978
The purpose of this study was to analyse forces affecting teacher education in Iceland around the time of upgrading from secondary to university level. The response of the administration when the university level programme did not meet the expectations of some students and teachers is examined. So too is why and how the introduction in 1978 of the socalled ‘thematic approach’ (í. þemanám) accounted for some of the factors affecting the teacher education programme, including the questions of theory and practice and the status of education as a field of study in academia. The study is based on documentary analysis of published and unpublished material and data from interviews taken in 2002 and 2003 with with ten key informants who had participated in most of the changes being studied.
Fuhui Chen and Hanna Ragnarsdóttir
Single-parent immigrant families in Iceland: Lives and educational experiences of their children
The aim of this study is to explore what situations immigrant single-parent families face in Iceland, their process of integration into Icelandic society and the educational experiences of their children. The main significance of the study is to give a minority group a voice while also providing important information for Icelandic society and educational system. Findings of the study indicate that the families and their children initially experienced difficulties in society and schools, partly related to marginalization and discrimination. However, social support systems, such as support from social networks and financial support from the state, and school support systems, such as special school support, do have positive effects on the lives of these families. All the parents interviewed in this study are concerned about preserving their children’s mother tongue, but all of them put their first consideration on their children’s Icelandic language learning. Most children in this study experienced marginalization in Icelandic schools, particularly in the first few months of attending the schools.
Bjørg Oddrun Hallås, Torunn Herfindal and Hege Wergedahl
Comparison of the Physical Activity of 11–12 Year Old Pupils in Two Schools in Norway and Iceland, using Pedometer Registrations and Activity Diaries
Detailed knowledge about physical activity (PA) in both school and leisure time is of great importance in order to promote children’s health. This study investigates and compares the PA levels of sixth-grade pupils, 11–12 years of age, in two Nordic schools, during both school and leisure time by combining pedometer measures with activity diary records. Pupils from Norway (n= 44) and Iceland (n=37) wore pedometers for seven consecutive days and kept an activity diary for the first two days. Although the total amount of PA of Norwegian and Icelandic pupils was similar, a closer look at the various activities during school time and leisure time revealed significant differences between the case schools, including gender differences. The study has contributed to the knowledge about PA among 11–12-year-old pupils in two Nordic countries and revealed a need for more research into different factors, in both school and leisure time that can contribute to increasing Nordic pupils PA levels.
Svanborg R. Jónsdóttir and Julie Davis
Designing for a childhood focusing on conservation and sustainability: The Lone Pine Child and Family Centre project in Australia
The ideas for the Lone Pine childcare centre build on the Reggio Emilia philosophy of the whole community raising the child and respecting children’s strengths and interests. The intention for early learning in the centre is that experiences will be enhanced by an environmental and conservation focus including routine excursions to the sanctuary. Lone Pine Sanctuary leaders initiated a collaborative project with the Queensland University of Technology, based on their expertise in Early Childhood Education for Sustainability. The collaboration created a cross-disciplinary network between academics and students from Early Childhood Education and Design. A visiting author from Iceland and an author involved on site discuss the importance of sustainability education (SE), describe the project and conclude that the Lone Pine Project is an example of ambitious goal setting in SE based on quality collaborations between multiple partners.
Diversity in Education: Teachers and Learners
Where do you come from? How trainee teachers from outside the UK are recognised and develop an authoritative voice as teachers in London schools
Policy concerns about the structure of the teaching workforce to reflect the superdiverse nature of the pupil population in London, combined with teacher shortages specifically in mathematics, has resulted in a significant number of those training to be mathematics teachers on the Post Graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) route having gained their first degree at universities outside the UK. It is common for such trainee teachers to perceive mathematics as an international language and therefore ignore the part that language plays in the both the learning of mathematics itself and more generally in the classroom, particularly in the recognition of their own difference. This paper explores how they, and teachers in their first year of teaching, are recognised as different by drawing on qualitative data in which they discuss their experiences of difference in London classrooms characterised, in the title of this article, by a question they are often asked: ‘Where are you from?’ I find that the institutional setting and history of individual schools, combined with features associated with language and mobility described by Jan Blommaert (2010) are initially associated with difficulties of maintaining a teacher identity in classrooms as a result of recognition and the power which can be assumed by pupils as native speakers. I go on to examine how trainees manage this by developing authoritative speech (Philips, 2004) to which pupils listen and I identify the strategies of fitting into local expectations and challenging them in order for teachers to find new identity positions for themselves and subsequent recognition by pupils.
Christine Forde and Jacqueline Morley
Developing pedagogies for diversity in Scottish education: The contribution of professional standards
This article explores the contribution of a set of professional standards developed in Scottish education by the General Teaching Council Scotland, (GTCS 2012) in building pedagogies for diversity. A key purpose of professional standards is to codify professional practice and so play an important role in the shaping of teaching. There is a danger that professional standards focus on narrowly defined behavioral competences and thus reinforce a technicist approach to the practice of teachers and leaders in school (Kennedy, 2005). However, professional standards can be used as developmental tools to enhance practice (Ingvarson, 2005). The article begins by setting out the context in which these professional standards were developed in Scottish education before exploring various approaches to teaching for diverse learners, such as inclusive pedagogies, pedagogies to challenge heteronormativity, gender-sensitive teaching and culturally responsive teaching. The article moves on to examine the construction of teaching in a specific set of professional standards in order to consider the possible contribution of standards to the development of pedagogies that support the learning of diverse groups of learners. The article ends with a discussion of the notion of intersectionality and how this might be used in professional learning to build repertoires of pedagogic practices for diversity.
Hidden rules of language use: Ethnographic observation on the transition from kindergarten to primary school in Switzerland
Growing linguistic and cultural diversity among children with and without an immigrant background is common in the Swiss education system. The new superdiversity of societies (Creese & Blackledge, 2010) requires professional development of teaching staff concerning linguistic and cultural responsibility and social justice. The paper presents initial findings from the research project “Multilingualism and Mobility in the Transition from Kindergarten to Primary School in Switzerland” (MEMOS) of the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland, a follow-up project to the international study “Heterogeneity and Literacy in the Transition from Elementary to Primary School” (HeLiE) of the University of Cologne (Panagiotopoulou & Graf, 2008). The research questions of these two projects concentrate on the day-to-day practices of teachers and the language practices of multilingual children with an immigrant background. The MEMOS project encompassed intensive participant observation and analyses of semi-structured interviews and documents in kindergarten and first grade school class over a period of two years. My research shows that multilingual children balance separate language worlds according to the social context. Further pertinent findings illustrate the dynamic change of language use and preferences. Moreover, these children perceive themselves as multilingual individuals and actively construct their linguistic and cultural identities.
Samúel Lefever, Robert Berman, Hafdís Guðjónsdóttir and Karen Rut Gísladóttir
Professional identities of teachers with an immigrant background
A growing number of teachers with immigrant backgrounds are teaching in Icelandic schools, each of whom brings different resources to the educational setting. This article discusses the findings of a narrative study of teachers with an immigrant background who teach in compulsory and upper secondary schools in Iceland. The purpose of the study was to explore the teachers’ stories in order to develop a better understanding of how they draw on their personal and cultural resources in their teaching and develop their professional identities. Six teachers were asked to reflect on opportunities and challenges they had faced in their teaching careers. Findings from the study draw attention to hurdles the teachers have met and successes they have experienced. The teachers confirmed the importance of being able to speak Icelandic in order to be accepted in society and in their profession. Learning the majority language had been challenging but they had all successfully crossed that barrier. Additionally, each of the teachers had found and used opportunities to expand their knowledge and develop professionally. The teachers believed that their diverse experiences and backgrounds had given them a broader knowledge base and helped them to become better teachers. They had also experienced freedom within the school context to shape their identities and teaching practices according to their beliefs, which contributed positively to their selfefficacy, professional identity and vision for teaching. The teachers were happy with their professional success and were very committed to the teaching profession. The study exemplifies the success of immigrant professionals in Iceland, demonstrating how support and encouragement from the close environment such as family and the workplace, and personal strengths contribute to the co-construction of professional identity.
Greta Marnitz, supervised by Geri Smyth
Creating a multilingual classroom environment for monolingual and multilingual children in Scotland
Extensive evidence suggests that many benefits arise from being bi- or multilingual. It is further suggested that monolingual children in the classroom may also benefit from this, as they can experience insight into other cultures. However, even though these are justified claims, there is little research in this area to prove the points made. The current ethnographic study aims to find out what impact a multilingual environment has on both mono- and multilingual children and how teachers are able to create such an environment with simple resources. Within the context of a Storyline and a short topic, a Scottish P5 class explored different cultures and languages, in many cases guided by their bilingual peers. The researcher worked with the children on this project and at the same time observed them throughout the day. The findings of the observations seem to support the claim that both mono- and multilingual children benefit from an environment that embraces different languages and enables the children to explore these. Overall, the children showed increasing interest in other languages and a more positive attitude towards other cultures. In addition to this, in some cases the bilingual children became more integrated in the class.
Julie E. McAdam and Jennifer Farrar
Narratives of change: Creating a community of inquiry using drama
This paper presents the Sustainable Glasgow 20141 Project ‘Narratives of Social Change: Supporting Sustainable Action through Creative Multiliteracies’, which brought together a team of teachers, educators and researchers working in the city of Glasgow to work collaboratively as a professional community of inquiry (PCI) to examine themes connected to migration and diversity. The paper focuses on the use of text-based drama engagement as a means of uncovering and establishing the key themes of inquiry to be explored collectively by communities of learners. The project was based on the potential of children’s literature to generate themes for critical exploration connected to global migration. By building such collaborative communities of inquiry between schools and universities, we suggest it may be possible to create more sustainable ways forward in terms of meeting the needs of Scotland’s diverse learners and teachers, and in producing new narratives that reflect the growing diversity of our classrooms. Used in this way, dramatic engagement could offer practitoners a crucial point of access into meaningful forms of social action.
2013 - Published articles
Birna Arnbjörnsdóttir and Patricia Prinz
An English Academic Writing Course for Secondary Schools: A Pilot Study
Recently, the Department of English at the University of Iceland developed a series of special writing courses designed to enhance students’ English academic proficiency. One of the courses was deemed appropriate for secondary school. This article describes the adaptation and implementation of one of the university courses at the secondary level. The article outlines the art and architecture of the course, that focuses on awareness of different genres, demonstrations and scaffolded practice prior to production of academic text. The article presents some qualitative outcomes from a pilot iteration of the project. The findings suggest that students find writing less interesting than other activities such as watching movies, but that they recognize the future value of instruction aimed at enhancing their academic English proficiency.
An emerging research ethos 1998–2004: A case study from a merger in teacher education in Iceland
The aim of this case study is to identify factors that influenced the research culture and the emerging research ethos in the Iceland University of Education (i. Kennaraháskóli Íslands) formed in 1998 when four organizations merged. The study analyses published documents, summaries of research activity and other information, collected between 1998–2004, to describe internal assimilation and external adaptation. Attempts were made to strengthen the research infrastructure in the institution as staff members grappled with the need to engage in discovery, the scholarly activity defined by Boyer (1990) to be most like research. There was some conflict between the tendency of staff to work on integration and application, and the external pressure to further develop discovery as a scholarly activity, while the ethos of research activity was one of cautious optimisim about the value of research and growing self-confidence in carrying it out.
Þuríður Jóhannsdóttir [Thurídur Jóhannsdóttir]
‘What we wanted to do was to change the situation’: Distance teacher education as stimulation for school development in Iceland
The article describes the origin of a distance programme for teachers first offered at the Iceland University of Education in 1993 in response to a lack of qualified teachers in rural Iceland. Student teachers were teaching in their home districts while enrolled in the programme, which was organized as a combination of campus-based sessions and home study, communicating with university lecturers via the Internet. The purpose of the article is to enhance understanding of the inception of the programme and shed light on the way in which student teachers’ participation in the distance programme enabled them to stimulate school development.
Rannsóknir og skólastarf
Nichole Leigh Mosty, Samúel Lefever, Hrafnhildur Ragnarsdóttir
Parents’ perspectives towards home language and bilingual development of preschool children
Parents in households where more than one language is spoken are faced with decisions regarding their children’s language upbringing. The purpose of the study was to explore parents’ perspectives about their children’s home language and bilingual development and how they facilitated language development in the home. Results indicated that these parents had overwhelmingly positive perspectives both about their children’s home language use and their Icelandic language development.
Gyða Jóhannsdóttir og Jón Torfi Jónasson
The Development Dynamics of a Small Higher Education System: Iceland – a case in point
The article intends to answer three questions: 1. To what extent can it be assumed that HE develops in essentially the same way in a very small system as in larger or even much larger systems? 2. Does Icelandic HE present significantly different drivers of change than larger systems for which comparable data exist? 3. Can specific development problems be identified in a small system that do not come to the fore in the larger systems? The data stems from the available literature as well as various official documents and statistical data banks.
2012 - Published articles
The paper reports a qualitative study on perceived relevance of secondary school English studies in Iceland. Interviews with secondary school and university students as well as young people in employment give insight into perceptions of studying English at secondary school. The paper focuses on what value writing in English at school has for students and what changes to classroom material and activities could benefit them. Findings suggest a need for advanced language accuracy and fluency in employment. Participants enjoy writing in English, but mention a lack of autonomy and self-assessment skills.
Susan Gollifer and Anh-Dao Tran
Exploring the rhetoric: How does Iceland’s curriculum reform address student diversity at the upper secondary level?
Ragnar F. Ólafsson, Allyson Macdonald og Auður Pálsdóttir
Teacher efficacy and country clusters: Some findings from the TALIS 2008 survey
2011 - Published articles
Robert Berman, Samúel Lefever og Anna Katarzyna Woźniczka
Attitudes towards languages and cultures of young Polish adolescents in Iceland
Allyson Macdonald and Auður Pálsdóttir
Creating Educational Settings: Designing a University Course
Anna Elísa Hreiðarsdóttir og Eygló Björnsdóttir
Á mörkum skólastiga: Áherslur í starfi með elstu börnum leikskóla
Anna Katarzyna Wozniczka og Robert Berman
Home language environment of Polish children in Iceland and their second-language academic achievement
2008 - Published articles
Doing a research plan – structure or chaos? Contrasts and conflicts in the proximity of creativity
The article discusses the construction and value of the research plan and the necessity of research planning and research content.] The shortcomings of relying solely on organised working methods in this context are pointed out.