Category Archives: Thinking Classrooms

(Svenska) Att förstå sitt lärande – magisteruppsats

To Understand One’s Learning
A pilot study about senior-level students’ apprehensions of metacognitive questions in the subjects Art and Swedish
By Anneli Vossman Strömberg
The paper is in Swedish: Att förstå sitt lärande A Vossman Strömberg

This pilot study aims to test how recommended methods to promote students’ metacognitive thinking can be used. Metacognition is about “learning how to learn” and is related to conceptions like feedback, self-regulation and formative assessment. Research shows that students that get training in metacognition increase their performances. One of the goals according to the Swedish Curriculum for the compulsory school, preschool class and the recreation centre 2011/2017 is that students shall develop the ability to assess their results. I have examined how students in grade seven answer and apprehend metacognitive questions in the compulsory subjects Art and Swedish. The students answered metacognitive questions at three different times: when planning, when carrying through and when evaluating the task. In connection to answering the questions they also answered a questionnaire about their conception of the metacognitive questions. The intention is to use the result of the pilot study to prepare for a larger study. A qualitative research method has been used in this study. The result show that it’s substantial that the teachers find out about the students different preunderstanding of the metacognitive questions. The majority of the students find the metacognitive question useless, but for different reasons. If the students don’t understand the questions they think that the questions are something in addition to the task. If the students have a high metacognitive preunderstanding they will consider the questions as redundant. Most students thought that the metacognitive questions took time from the task they were supposed to do. Some students expressed great dissatisfaction, big frustration and irritation over the questions. To be able to train metacognitive thinking methodically with desired effect the students have to be motivated. A key factor is that the students understand what the training is supposed to leading. The teacher has to work in different ways with different groups of students with this.
Key words
Metacognition, metacognitive thinking, metacognitive questions, metacognitive strategies, learning to learn, feedback, self-regulation, formative assessment, learning strategies, visible learning

Keeping Order in a Thinking and Learning Environment

Paper presented at the TA Teachers Conference ‘Thinking as a Key Competence: Implications for Learning, Teaching and Management’ in Riga 23-24 September 2016.
Read paper here: keeping-order-pihlgren

See slideshow here: pihlgren-keeping-order

This paper is part of a larger study where more than two hundred teachers have been observed and interviewed. The questions guiding this part of the study focus on how the teacher’s way of keeping order is connected to the cognitive quality of what is taught.
A ‘thinking and learning environment’ presupposes that the teacher acts with strong focus on fostering students’ habits of mind, keeping order at the same time. However, there is no automatic relationship between orderliness and learning. Two factors are of importance: The teacher’s way of exercising control and if the system is perceptible for the students. Five types of learning environments were identified, three less successful in supporting cognitive development of students, and two more successful. The strongest learning outcomes are achieved when teachers use a clear and visible system during the lesson, so the students understand what is expected, a system that promotes their self-control.
Keywords: Cognition, order, praxis theory, teaching environments, thinking

Teaching Environments in Preschool Teaching

Paper presented at ECER, the European Conference on Educational Research, 23-26 August 2016, Dublin, Ireland.
Research Director, dr. Ann S. Pihlgren, Ignite Research Institute
Box 116, SE-761 22 Norrtälje, SWEDEN

See slideshow: Slideshow Teaching environments

Read the paper: Teaching Environments in Preschool, Pihlgren

This paper analyzes how preschool teachers and caretakers meet the demands for cognitive and creative development of children. Observations of 40 sessions in preschools for 1-5-year-old children, and staff interviews were used. The questions guiding the analysis concern how preschool staff describe the considerations they make when planning, how this is represented in the observed activities, and how the results compare to the school and afterschool material analysis.
Teaching thinking and creativity presupposes that the teacher plans, assesses, chooses activities and tools, and arranges the setting carefully, with focus on fostering children’s 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 preschools as well as in the previously observed classrooms and afterschools. All previously found teaching environments were found in the preschool material, with a bulk of the child-investigative teaching environment. This environment is similar to Pramling’s description of ‘child centered pedagogy’. A few preschool teachers present successful planning models and interactional activities to improve children’s thinking and creativity, and was found similar to Pramling’s ‘development pedagogy’.

Discussing Religion – Discourses in Plans for Thoughtful Dialogues

Paper presented at ECER, the European Conference on Educational Research, 8-11 September 2015, Budapest, Hungary.

By: PhD Ann S. Pihlgren, Ignite Research Institute, Master of Theology Malin Pihlgren Nylander, Church of Sweden.

Read the paper: Pihlgren & Pihlgren Discussing religion – discourses in thoughtful dialogues with students

See slide show: Presentation Discussing religion ECER


This paper analyzes discourses in method materials for thoughtful dialogues in the classroom. It focuses on materials presenting religious and moral subjects. ‘Thoughtful dialogues’ refers to a family of interrelated methods for philosophizing with students, e.g. philosophy for/with children, and Socratic seminars, using open-ended questions, and an investigating and collaborative interlocution. The questions guiding the study were:

  • What discourses can be found in methodological materials for thoughtful dialogue addressing the subject religion?
  • Are questions in the materials used to address faith, morality, and teaching? If so, how?
  • How are the discourses found in the methodological materials related to the discourses in religious education in a highly secularized country (Sweden)?

In this study a social constructionist/poststructuralist approach is taken, where knowledge is considered contextual and social, and where an action or stance therefore can be considered as impossible or natural depending on how the world is perceived within the dominating discourse. Our analysis was carried out by using a revised version of Fairclough’s (2013) three-dimensional conception of discourse, presenting an analytical frame for empirical discourse research: Analysis of texts, of discursive practice, and of discursive events as instances of social practice.

The results show three discourses in the material. The discourse of critical thinking in school is the most frequent, and aims at transforming teaching. Faith is normally not a part of the agenda. The teaching philosophy in school discourse does not address faith, and moral questions and the egalitarian dialogue are elements used to justify the teaching of philosophy in school. The third discourse addresses faith and suggests a critical thinking in religion discourse, challenging the present hegemonic discourse in western societies. Religious education in secular countries tends to focus on teaching about the world religions from an outsider’s perspective whereas the methodological materials for thoughtful dialogues tend to focus on moral questions when exploring religious texts.

Religious education in school could be considered from two factors: 1.) The attitude toward questions of faith and 2.) The approach to knowledge. Questions of religious faith might be addressed in education, or not. Knowledge might be seen from a fundamentalist point of view, where a set of true facts are presented to the students, or, as in the opposite position, attaining knowledge includes critically examination of facts and values. This will give four different approaches to religious education in school: Dogmatic religion, dogmatic atheism, examining theology, or examining philosophy excluding theology.

Questions of faith and religion need to be discussed with others: Thoughtful dialogues could be used in classrooms and other contexts for dialogues about faith, and religious and theological questions, and thus helping the individual to form a relationship or grounded base on which he or she can reflect on matters of faith and belief or disbelief, both on her or his own and with others. This approach is in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.