Project School-In is built on the results of an innovation project funded by the Research Council of Norway, the University of Agder and the municipalities of Iveland, Lillesand, Kristiansand and Vennesla. The purpose of the project was to find answers to a common challenge; measures and reforms work differently in different schools at different places (OECD 2015).
The four municipalities have for several years collaborated on the initiative Inclusive Learning Environment (2013-2019). The initiative is about a development process in kindergartens and schools with a focus on new research on inclusion, and capacity building to bring about a change (Bandura 1997; Roland 2015). As a reinforcement measure to their initiative, the municipalities have joined forces with the University of Agder on the research project School-In. The research project was carried out in 2017-2020. The purpose of innovation School-In was to develop research-based working methods, which school management and staff can use to change working concretely and school-based with inclusion.
School-In has used findings from the project Learning regions (Norwegian Research Council), which shows that school culture is developed through the school's relationship to the local environment's expectations (Midtsundstad & Langfeldt, 2020). The project has shed light on expectations that are important for an inclusive learning environment and a to promote change in school culture.
International research points to the importance of developing the school's collective capacity for inclusion, which means developing a school, district, and national culture to take joint responsibility for all students' learning (Fullan, 2010). School culture is seen as one of the most important factors when raising the quality of the school (Schoen & Teddlie, 2008), but international research says little about how it develops locally based on expectations.
School-In has developed new knowledge about how school culture develops because of the school's adjustment to local expectations and is important for the school's inclusive practice and results (Kvalsund, et.al, 2009; Horrigmo, 2015; Cresswell, 2015; Horrigmo & Midtsundstad, 2020). The school's connection to the local environment can thus be made aware of to release the school's potential for development. By uncovering and comparing school organizations' expectations structures, research has provided answers to how school culture is established and can be changed. Expectation structures as concepts describe a system of expectations at different levels, inside and outside the school that is important for the school culture. Research shows that teachers lower their expectations of different groups of students, and that the school at system level takes different responsibility for students' learning and can create obstacles to inclusion (Diamond, et.al., 2004). The staff in the schools have been invited to discuss the mapping of their own school and help to change the possibilities of inclusion at system level. The staff has been a strong contributor to innovation, which is unique in international research where the explanation for development projects without effect is often attributed to teachers' reluctance (Stoll, et.al, 2006, Hargreaves, 2002).
School-In has developed new knowledge about inclusive communities with methods and working methods that aim to change expectations that can provide synergy effects in the school organization and in the local environment. The university has a research team that has participated in the project Learning Regions and the German school development program ‘SINUS an Grundschulen’ (Fischer & Rieck, 2014). The organization of the project has been based on established structures for collaboration that have provided good opportunities for dissemination of results that emerged along the way and for further realization as on this website.
Prof. Dr. Annelies Kreis (University of Zurich, Switzerland),
Prof. emer. Gjert Langfeldt (University of Agder, Norway),
Prof. Dr. Aslaug Kristiansen (University of Agder, Norway),
Professor Stefan T. Hopmann (University of Vienna, Austria),
Professor Dr. Barbara Drechsel (University of Bamberg, Germany),
Professor Dr. Elisabet Öhrn (University of Gothenburg, Sweden),
Dr. Marina Pinskaya (Head of Research Group, Effective Schools)
PhD cand Aleksandra Mikhaylova (National Research University, Higher School of Economics, Moskow, Russia),
Dr. cand. Livia A. L. Rößler (University of Innsbruck, Austria);
Prof. Unn Doris K. Bæck (University of Tromsø, Norway)
The reference group is established representing international, national research communities and the Education sector - to ensure quality, relevance and impact of the project.
The international researchers will ensure international understanding and scope of the project, as well as cooperation on developing the research design and research dissemination.
The Education sector will ensure the national and practical relevance of the project, as well as cooperation on developing possibilities for local and national implementation.