Ninni Wahlström

Ninni Wahlström

Department of Education and Teachers' Practice Faculty of Social Sciences
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I am a professor of Education and responsible for the research environment LINNAEUS-SITE (Studies in Teaching, Curriculum and Evaluation).

My area of research interest is curriculum theory, educational policy, and pedagogy (didactics). Against a backdrop of globalization in for example economical, communicative and everyday domains, I am interested in transnational policy discourses and comparative studies. More specifically, my research interests revolve around the following areas:

  • curriculum theory in a transnational and national perspectives
  • classroom studies in a curriculum theory perspective
  • educational policy
  • pedagogy/ didactics; general didactics; didactics with a focus on literacy, civics and mathematics
  • educational philosophy; pragmatism (Dewey), ethics (cosmopolitanism)

Recently published: Wahlström, N. & Sundberg, D. (2018). Transnational curriculum standards and classroom practices: The new meaning of teaching. London: Routledge. 

Keynote speaker at the European Conference on Education Research, ECER, Geneva, 2021. See link:

Current research projects:

Exploring the elusive teaching gap – Equity and knowledge segregation in teaching processes (2018-2021)

This project examines the factors that affect knowledge segregation in school beyond the socioeconomic and residential factors. The PISA 2015 reported that the importance of the family's socioeconomic background in terms of results in science and reading increased during the 2000s. Likewise, the difference in performance between schools also sharpened. We know from the NAE reports that there is an established correlation between socioeconomic factors and students' academic performance. We also know about the organizational factors that promote successful schools. However, such factors are partially located outside the educational domain.
What we do not know in the Swedish context is how the actual teaching can promote or impede the school success of different groups in relation to standards-based curricula. A foundational and genuine educational question relates to how different classroom discourses and concepts of knowledge affect students' access to "powerful" knowledge. Our hypothesis, based on previous studies, is that both classroom discourses and concepts of knowledge differ between low- and high-performance classrooms. The overarching question of gaining access to powerful knowledge includes three key areas:
- What patterns of classroom discourses characterize the teaching offered to students in high-performance and low-performance classrooms?
- What is considered powerful knowledge for high-performing and low-performing students?
- How does a standards-based curriculum affect the teaching process for these two groups?

Understanding Curriculum Reforms – A Theory-Oriented Evaluation of the Swedish Curriculum Reform Lgr 11

A four-year research project Understanding Curriculum Reforms – A Theory-Oriented Evaluation of the Swedish Curriculum Reform Lgr 11, financed by the Swedish Research Council, 2014-2017. The project will answer crucial questions on how transnational and national influences formed the Lgr 11, how the recontextualisation processes have shaped the Lgr 11 reform at the local level, and in what ways and to what extent the Lgr 11 has transformed teaching patterns and practices at the classroom level. The aim is to theoretically and methodologically develop the former Swedish theory-oriented pedagogical evaluation tradition, from a national state-centered understanding of education towards a framework taking 2010's transnational influences into account.

Local Authorities – Independent Policy Players in Education Reforms?

An evaluation project financed by Institute of Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy, IFAU, 2016 – 2017, Local Authorities – Independent Policy Players in Education Reforms?, with a focus on how local authorities, as mandators of the provision of schooling, relate to questions of the meaning of the curriculum reform Lgr 11, teachers’ professional practice, norms of teaching repertoires, standards and assessment practices in their implementation and enforcement of the curriculum Lgr 11. 

Report in Swedish:

The project "Research Based Teacher Education", financed by the Swedish Research Council, 2014-2015, explores how research is introduced and used in the Swedish teacher education. The study includes document analyses and a survey with teacher educators and teacher students as informants. More specifically, the study aims both to identify and analyze the base of research at a number of teacher education programs, and to provide an overview of the factors that are viewed as important in regarding teacher education as research based.

Report in Swedish:

Theory-Based Evaluation of the Curriculum Lgr 11

An evaluation project financed by Institute of Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy, IFAU, 2013 – 2015, “Theory-Based Evaluation of the Curriculum Lgr 11”, with a focus on transnational and national concepts of curricula and knowledge and how teachers conceive the curriculum Lgr 11. Intentions, implementation and consequences of the curriculum reform for compulsory school, Lgr 11, are at the center of this mix-method project, including text analyses, questionnaires addressed to teachers in Year 6 and Year 9, as well as interviews with teachers.

Report in English:

Ongoing research cooperation in Nordic, European and international research networks on policy and curriculum research:

  • Member of the member of the Scientific Council at the Swedish Institute for Educational Research 2019-2022
  • Associate editor of Journal of Curriculum Studies
  • Member of the international advisory group for curriculum studies at Stirling University
  • Network convener for the Curriculum Research Network in the Nordic Educational research Association (NERA),
  •  Reviewer in the network of Policy Studies and Politics of Education in the European Educational Research Association (EERA)






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Conference paper (Other academic)

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Article, book review (Other academic)

Chapter in book (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))