Department of Educational Sciences

The Joint Faculties of Humanities and Theology | Lund University

Research in educational sciences

Educational sciences can be defined in several ways. A broad descriptive definition is given, for example, by the Swedish Research Council’s Educational Sciences Committee, which describes educational sciences as “research on general knowledge, education, teaching and learning”. Berit Askling, who studied the development of educational sciences in Sweden, offered a different definition: “the areas that are central to vocational education and training for teachers”. These two definitions demarcate an area within which most research on educational sciences is found.

The first-mentioned, broader definition attempts to include all research with some kind of link to education and similar. The second, narrower definition focuses on teacher training and its research basis. This corresponds well with the tasks of the Department of Educational Sciences: on the one hand, coordinating educational sciences research in a broad sense at Lund University; and on the other hand, contributing to the development of subject and general didactics research linked to teacher training.

Global, social and historical conditions
With regard to the content of educational sciences research, it is also important to emphasise the global, societal, institutional, social, historical and discursive conditions in which general knowledge, education, teaching, learning and professional teacher training take place.

For example, there are similarities and differences between the learning that occurs in compulsory form as opposed to voluntary learning. It is also important to pay attention to the way in which international trends can strongly influence national and local conditions, more or less independently of these conditions. There are also historical differences and similarities between the current and former teaching profession and teacher training, differences and similarities which, among other things, relate to global and societal conditions.
There are further social differences with regard to social class, gender, ethnicity and age, separately or in combination, which must be taken into account in studies of education. The discourse that regulates debate about educational sciences and teacher training is also an important factor. The discourse not only frames the debate about education and schools, it also shapes political opinion and, to a high degree, what research funders consider to be important research fields in the area of education.

Disciplinary breadth and research depth
Research in educational sciences at the department is developed within the framework above. The research shall be broad from a disciplinary point of view (multi- and interdisciplinary) and shall strive for scholarly depth. The connection to the teacher training programme means that educational sciences research is also to provide research contributions to the knowledge development of the teaching profession.

Furthermore, research shall, to the extent possible, be relevant to all the agents who are present in the activities on a day to day basis in all imaginable educational contexts, such as pupils, parents, students, people involved in professional development, teachers, principals, school heads, education providers and political decision-makers, only to name the most obvious. Finally, this being said, the educational sciences research that develops is to strongly emphasise the critical nature of scholarly research.