Category Archives: Observation And Feedback

Enhancing Teacher’s Understanding of How to Develop Students’ Thinking

Paper presented at the 17th ICOT, International Conference on Thinking 2015, 30th June, in Bilbao, Spain.

Read the paper: Enhancing Teachers Pihlgren

See the slide show: Pihlgren Enhancing Teachers


Schools around the world are trying to cope with rapid societal changes – fast progress of technical development, the globalization of communication, markets, and ideas, and the demand for equal education for different groups in society. If these challenges are to be met, for the benefit of mankind, it calls for good educational practice in every classroom, focused not only on teaching thinking to students, but also on their abilities to make productive choices, and to take responsibility for societal development in the future.

This paper is part of a larger study including a thorough investigation and analysis of current research literature on how education can meet the demands for cognitive development of students, compared with results from observations and teacher interviews, recorded at 125 lessons in classrooms with students from grade K-12, and 60 sessions in afterschool with students from grade K-6. The questions guiding this particular part of the study concern how (if at all) the teachers’ ways to plan and carry out classroom activities changed after having participated in development programs, and what methods seem to be more effective than others when changing teachers’ classroom behavior. Twelve units in eight schools K-12 and afterschools K-6 participated.

The ‘thinking classroom’ presupposes that the teacher plans, assesses, chooses activities and tools, and arranges the setting, with strong focus on fostering students’ habits of mind, rather than fixating on factual knowledge or covering of certain knowledge areas. The contextual and communicational interactions play a vital part of support in a thinking environment. The development programs focused on these issues. Before teachers participated in the programs, observations showed little evidence of the anticipated criteria in the classrooms (Pihlgren 2013a, 2014). Though most teachers showed an understanding of what would develop the students’ cognitive skills, they lacked the understanding of how to translate their theoretical knowledge into practice.

Some of the elements used in the development programs proved to be more effective, especially when combined: The impact on teachers’ behavior in the classroom increased when the teacher was required to try out different ways to act, when they were required to present their experiences and get feedback from colleagues, researcher and leaders on what they had done and how, when the teacher read theoretical texts connected to what was tested and lectured on and the texts were discussed with colleagues, and when the principal or vice principal took active part during the program. An ‘ideal type’, a model of how a successful development program would look like was constructed and can be used for designing or evaluating teacher development programs, where the aim is to change teaching practice to address higher cognitive outcomes.

(Svenska) Professionsutveckling genom grupputveckling och lönesamtal

Detta utvecklingsmaterial är framtaget av Daglig verksamhet i Enköpings kommun i samarbete med pedagogikforskare Ann S. Pihlgren. Materialet omfattar forsknings- och erfarenhetsbaserad modell för grupputveckling med en utvärderings- och utvecklingsmatris och en arbetsgång över året, som har prövats i verksamheten i samverkan mellan chefer, personal och forskare. Ta del av hela materialet här:

Professionsutveckling genom grupputveckling och lönesamtal

Complementary Education in Classrooms and Afterschool Programs


This paper analyzes how afterschool teachers and caretakers meet the demands for cognitive and creative development of students. Observations of lessons and sessions in afterschools (‘fritidshem’) for grade K-3 and staff interviews were used. The questions guiding the analysis concern what criteria are important when teaching thinking and creativity to students, how these are planned and represented in the activities, and how the results compare to the school analysis.  

Teaching thinking and creativity presupposes that the teacher plans, assesses, chooses activities and tools, and arranges the setting carefully, with focus on fostering students’ habits of mind. The contextual and communicational interactions play a vital part of support. Evidence of the anticipated criteria was difficult to ascertain in the observed classrooms and afterschools. However, a few teachers present successful models, and some schools present school and afterschool interaction to improve students’ thinking and creativity.

Key words: thinking, creativity, cognitive development, lesson planning, afterschools (fritidshem)

Read paper: Complementary education in classrooms and afterschool programs

See slideshow: Slideshow Complementary education in classrooms and afterschools

Feedback to staff as a developmental tool

Here is the material from my workshop in Singapore jan. 2013 on feedback to staff as a developmental tool. See slide show: 1. Enhance your teachers pedagogical development     2. Working with feedback as a tool      3. Methods for observation and feedback       Learning through interaction and student engagement – our matrix         Lesson plan and outcome Kims religion class        Matrix A and B       Opening discussion – Tillbergs classroom