Bengt-Olov Molander

Bengt-Olov Molander


Visa sidan på svenska
Works at Department of Mathematics and Science Education
Telephone 08-120 766 22
Visiting address Svante Arrheniusväg 20 A, E-huset, Arrheniuslab
Room E 463
Postal address Institutionen för matematikämnets och naturvetenskapsämnenas didaktik 106 91 Stockholm


About 20 % of students in Swedish schools have another mother-tounge than Swedish. Thus, a large proportion of Swedish classrooms are multilingual involving more than one language in teaching and learning in science. Deaf students are bilingual with sign language as the first language and (written) Swedish as a second language. A continuing project on deaf students’ learning of science can be divided into two parts: a reserach project and a school-development project in collaboration with teachers in special schools for deaf and hard of hearing. The focus in the research project is communication and meaning-making in the bilingual science class room. Theoretical points of departure are notions of dialogism, translanguaging and social semiotics. The focus in the school-development project is how science instruction may be developed in a bilingual, signing, school context.


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2018. Bengt-Olov Molander, Karim Hamza. Journal of Science Teacher Education 29 (6), 504-526

    The development of professional identity during a short-track teacher education program is studied. This article presents how individuals with a strong background in natural sciences describe the teacher education in which they participate. Individual interviews were conducted with 6 student teachers with a doctorate in natural sciences and extensive work experience in science-related professions on 5 occasions during their teacher education. We suggest that shared ways of talking about education and teaching practice can be described as phases summed up as cautiously positive, rejection, acceptance, and complexity. It is argued that problems of development of professional identities can be understood in relation to the design of the teacher education under study, and failure to acknowledge the development of a professional identity as a science teacher among these student teachers is a question of a not unproblematic transformation of professional identities. Implications for teacher education are that the design of teacher education needs to consider a joint frame for the entire education, in particular the relation between practice and theoretical courses.

  • 2018. Zeynep Ünsal (et al.). Cultural Studies of Science Education 13 (2), 317-340

    In this article we examine how bilingual students construe relations between everyday language and the language of science. Studies concerning bilingual students language use in science class have mainly been conducted in settings where both the teacher and the students speak the same minority language. In this study data was collected in a class consisting of students aged 13–14. All students had Turkish as their minority language, whereas the teacher’s minority language was Bosnian. The class was observed when they were working with acids and bases. In addition, the students were interviewed in groups.They were asked about how they use their languages during science lessons and then asked to describe and explain scientific phenomena and processes that had been a part of the observed lessons. For the analysis, practical epistemology analysis and the theory of translanguaging were used. The results show how the students’ everyday language repertoire may limit their possibilities to make meaning of science. In particular, the teacher’s practice of facilitating and supporting students’ understanding of science content by relating it to concrete examples took another direction since the everyday words he used were not a part of the students’ language repertoire. The study also shows how the students used their minority language as a resource to translate words from Swedish to Turkish in order to proceed with the science activities. However, translating scientific concepts was problematic and led to the students’ descriptions of the concepts not being in line with how they are viewed in science. Finally, the study also demonstrates how monolingual exams may limit bilingual students’ achievements in science. The study contributes by presenting and discussing circumstances that need to be taken into consideration when planning and conducting science lessons in classes where the teacher and the student do not share the same minority language. 

  • 2017. Zeynep Ünsal (et al.). Research in science education

    In this study, we examine how bilingual students in elementary school use their languages and what this means for their meaning-making in science. The class was multilingual with students bilingual in different minority languages and the teacher monolingual in Swedish. The analysis is based on a pragmatic approach and the theory of translanguaging. The science content was electricity, and the teaching involved class instruction and hands-on activities in small groups. The findings of the study are divided into two categories, ‘students’ conversations with the teacher’ and ‘student’s conversations with each other’. Since the class was multilingual, the class instruction was carried out in Swedish. Generally, when the conversations were characterised by an initiation, response and evaluation pattern, the students made meaning of the activities without any language limitations. However, when the students, during whole class instruction, were engaged in conversations where they had to argue, discuss and explain their ideas, their language repertoire in Swedish limited their possibilities to express themselves. During hands-on activities, students with the same minority language worked together and used both of their languages as resources. In some situations, the activities proceeded without any visible language limitations. In other situations, students’ language repertoire limited their possibilities to make meaning of the activities despite being able to use both their languages. What the results mean for designing and conducting science lessons in a multilingual class is discussed. 

  • 2010. Bengt-Olov Molander, Ola Halldén, Camilla Lindahl. International Journal of Educational Research 49 (1), 33-47

    The ambiguity of words and signs as a resource or obstacle in group discussions is studied.How deaf and hearing students aged 13–15 years elaborate on ecological concepts throughdialogue is described. Group interviews were conducted with 14 hearing and 18 deafstudents. Probes were used to initiate discussion about the different meanings ofecological concepts: producer, consumer, nutrients/nutriment, food-chain and cycles. Theresults show that the dialogues are less elaborated for deaf learners than for hearinglearners. It is argued that dialogues between hearing students have a greater chance ofbecoming ‘joint productive activity’, since words in Swedish pave the way for sharedmeaning-making. To deaf learners, differences in connotation between the Swedish wordsand the signs used lead to uncertainty and unproductive lines of reasoning. Oneimplication for instruction is that this bilingual communication needs to be taken intoconsideration to a much greater extent.

  • 2007. Bengt-Olov Molander, Ola Halldén, Camilla Lindahl. International Journal of Educational Research 46 (6), 327-340

    Ambiguity in group discussions as a resource for communication is studied. How students, aged 13–15 years, elaborateon the concept energy through dialogue is described. Group interviews were conducted with 15 hearing and 20 deafstudents. Three probes were used to initiate discussions on different meanings of energy. The results show that thedialogues are less elaborated for deaf learners compared with hearing learners. It is argued that dialogues between hearingstudents have a greater chance of becoming ‘joint productive activity’, since the ambiguity of the word energy in Swedishlays the ground for shared meaning-making. To deaf learners, the ambiguity between the Swedish word and the signs usedproduces uncertainty and puts an end to further dialogue.

Show all publications by Bengt-Olov Molander at Stockholm University


Last updated: October 24, 2019

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