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New research centre for special needs education and inclusive practice

The University of Agder will, in collaboration with several other universities, establish a new centre for research on special needs education and inclusive practice. The goal is to strengthen special needs education research in Norway.

Illustrasjonsfoto
BETTER FOR CHILDREN: The University of Agder is central to a new nationwide research centre for special needs education and inclusive practice in schools and nurseries in Norway. (Photo: Colourbox)

The centre is a long-term initiative with an overriding goal of strengthening special needs education research in Norway. The purpose is to provide a good basis for improving and facilitating children’s learning, well-being, and motivation in practice. The Research Council finances the establishment of the centre with NOK 32 million.

“This is really great. We have been working for a long time to make this happen, and now we have succeeded. The big advantage is that we can now see the work from a holistic perspective where several regions of the country are involved”, says Professor David Lansing Cameron (pictured) at UiA’s Department of Education, which has been closely involved in the planning of the new centre. 

Two working groups led by UiA

Collaborating partners at the centre are the University of Oslo, the University of Bergen, the University of Agder, Nord University and the University of Stavanger. The centre will be established in the autumn of 2021. The research centre will be structured into seven working groups linked to different sub-projects. Each working group has a leader and 4-8 participating researchers.

David Lansing Cameron, foto

David Lansing Cameron

From UiA, two PhD research fellows and three permanent researchers will participate. The work they will do focuses on three sub-projects:

  • Case studies on special education measures for children with significant support needs. The working group is led by UiA.
  • Interdisciplinary collaboration between, among others, the educational-psychological services (PPT), schools and nurseries. The working group is led by UiA.
  • A four-year nationwide long-term study to identify risk and protective factors in the period from nursery to early school age.

“National efforts for improved research quality”

Minister of Education and Integration Guri Melby has high hopes for the new research centre.

“The centre will lead national efforts to improve the quality of special needs education research, both in terms of small and vulnerable groups and more general special needs education issues”, she says in a press release.

Challenges in Norway

Special needs education and inclusive practice in Norway is faced with several challenges: the quality of many research studies is not good enough, and many of the special needs education measures that are implemented do not have a documented effect. Furthermore, measures that research shows really work are often not implemented in practice. The new research centre will help to rectify this.

The Department of Special Needs Education at the University of Oslo will be the host institution. Professor Monica Melby-Lervåg at UiO will lead the centre.

“We are very happy to have won the competition for this centre, and we look forward to delivering high quality research that will directly contribute to developing a better educational offer for children who need extra support. One of the centre’s strengths is that it involves universities from all over the country and can therefore contribute to knowledge ensuring a more unified national support system”, says the incoming centre director.

See also:

The Research Council’s decision  

Press release from the Government  (in Norwegian only)