New graduate school on gifted pupils to receive sizeable grant from the Swedish Research Council2021-06-24
Swedish schools often receive criticism for failing to provide optimal stimulation for pupils who have no problem achieving the learning objectives. There is a need for in-depth knowledge about gifted pupils and the government therefore recently tasked the National Agency for Education with mapping out needs and developing initiatives for the education of gifted pupils. Recently, a new graduate school with Karlstad University at the helm has been approved for a sizeable grant from the Swedish Research Council. Nine doctoral students will study and build capacity for these needs in the Swedish education system.
The graduate school, which will be inaugurated in the autumn of 2021, is a collaboration between Karlstad University, Mälardalen University, and Stockholm University and has received nearly SEK 40 million from the Swedish Research Council. The aim of the graduate school is to build capacity in Sweden in terms of research on inclusive teaching for gifted pupils. It will be active for five years as a continuation of a Nordic research collaboration and will include a wider circle of leading international expertise. Nine new doctoral students will receive supervision, education, and subject specialisation with three new doctoral-level courses — theories on gifted pupils and learning, inclusive teaching and differentiation for gifted preschool and school pupils, and mental health in gifted pupils.
“It feels amazing to contribute my very first substantial and external research grant to Karlstad University”, says Valerie Margrain, professor of Educational Work at Karlstad University and project director. “Educational work is about meeting all the needs of all the individuals in the classroom, and being gifted is about more than just being good at the theoretical elements of school. It can also encompass being good at sports, being creative, being musical, being verbal, and so on. In Sweden, we safeguard children’s rights while awarding the Nobel Prize every year — one example of how being gifted isn’t a new concept here. But we need more in-depth studies of this to offer future teachers the right tools to use with these students.”
Lack of stimulation can lead to exclusion and mental health issues
The graduate school serves as a shared platform for the doctoral students and gives them access to a new collaboration environment — a prerequisite in the development of high-quality research with relevance to teacher education and schools. The affiliation with and participation in international and national research conferences and networks will also provide an opportunity to develop a field that has so far been characterised by fairly isolated development ventures in Sweden. Furthermore, previous research and reports have shown that gifted pupils do not always develop in an optimal way and are not always happy in preschool and school. They are not always given the guidance and stimulation they need, they feel misunderstood, or they are simply not identified and acknowledged for their abilities. Some of them choose to stay home or underachieve to avoid standing out.
“The investment in this graduate school is wonderful news. This gives us the chance to establish a multidisciplinary partnership between the Department of Educational Studies and the Centre for Research on the Mental Health and Life Circumstances of Children and Youth, CBU, and contribute new knowledge about the educational work for and mental health of gifted pupils”, says Gisela Priebe, professor of Psychology and CBU director.”
“The timing is great, considering the substantial need that exists in teacher education, which is a large part of Karlstad University. Teachers-to-be want to learn more about how they can address the needs of every pupil in their classroom. The doctoral students will work actively with and contribute to teacher education in various forms. This is an area that has been studied in all the Nordic countries recently. Sweden has received the grant, but we will be working with other researchers in the Nordic countries and international. In the long term, we will have good, evidence-based results that we can use in the future.”
Nordic Doctoral Programme for Inclusive Gifted Education: A graduate school dedicated to educational work and gifted pupils for teacher educators will be conducted within the framework of educational studies and teacher education. The project will be led by Karlstad University in collaboration with Mälardalen University and Stockholm University as well as higher education institutions from the Nordic countries and international. The graduate school has received a research grant of SEK 39.5 million from the Swedish Research Council.
The Centre for Research on the Mental Health and Life Circumstances of Children and Youth, CBU, is the new name for the research centre of CFBUPH, the Centre for Research on Child and Adolescent Mental Health.