Veronica Flodin

Veronica Flodin

Studierektor för VFU och didaktik utvecklare

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Works at Department of Mathematics and Science Education
Telephone 08-120 765 98
Visiting address Svante Arrheniusväg 20 A, E-huset, Arrheniuslab
Room P423
Postal address Institutionen för matematikämnets och naturvetenskapsämnenas didaktik 106 91 Stockholm

About me

I work as study director in teacher education and didactic developer. Previous experiences are, among others, teaching biology in higher education as well as biological research. Based on these experiences, I have written a Phd-thesis in biology didactics: "A didactic study of knowledge content in biology at universities: with the gene concept as an example". Through my current work in teacher education, issues of academic education compared to vocational education also become exciting meeting points concerning questions of knowledge, progression and quality.


I am currently course leader for and teaching in Professional development course 2 teaching and learning in mathematics and science, 7,5 credits. The course is characterized by a subject didactic perspective and uses research and theory related to teaching the natural science subjects in higher education. I have also been involved in the course Action research, 15 ECTS credits, advanced level and supervise and examines degree projects from time to time.


My research interests concern epistemological issues with a focus on knowledge in the disciplines and on the subjects at the university, especially biology. Through subject didactics research, it is possible to develop knowledge about knowings from a teaching perspective. The teaching accentuates the knowledge, abilities and qualities that are important. It also formulates and structures the subjects. However, the choice of what content to learn is often done based on experience and tradition. My research focuses on the re-contextualization of knowledge from research to teaching at university level, in order to make the content selection more transparent. By also formulating what is central to understand and further how different parts are connected, the teaching and learning can be made more visible to both the teacher and the student. In addition to research, I also want to argue for a more progressive view of the subject of biology, from school subject to university subject, which could more clearly consist of a more ongoing dialogue between schools and universities on central content and fruitful models.

Ongoing projects on different levels:

1) Understandings of the gene concepts

2) Quality aspects of knowledge in biology

3) The research-teaching nexus in cellbiology
4) Didactic reflection in biology studies


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2019. Veronica S. Flodin. Science & Education 28 (1-2), 183-187
  • 2018. Veronica S. Flodin. Future Educational Challenges from Science and Technology Perspectives, 106-112

    The traditional lecture, where a lecturer presents, summarize, explain etc. the course content, is a common practice in biology higher education. The purpose of this study is therefore the possibility of the lecture as a mean to deal with a central learning problem in genetics. An experienced teacher and researcher sees a learning problem in the gap between scientific development concerning genomes and the more simple "one gene - one phenotype" relation and laws of inheritance, founded by Mendel. The question is how the lecturer tries to overcome the learning problem as part of the content structure of the lecture in a fruitful way. The study is inspired by lesson study in its arrangement. The lecturer tests his lecture structure on two different student groups in an iterative way with reflections in between. The focused learning problem is tested in the final exam and the results from both student groups are compared. Despite the elaborated structural changes in the lectures, the majority of students do not pass the question about how gene complexity is involved in phenotypic changes. The results bids a discussion about how we create learning problems and how to abandon Mendelian genetics and conventional presentations of content.

  • 2017. Veronica S. Flodin. Science & Education 26 (1), 141-170

    The purpose of this study is to interpret and qualitatively characterise the content in some research articles and evaluate cases of possible difference in meanings of the gene concept used. Using a reformulation of Hirst’s criteria of forms of knowledge, articles from five different sub-disciplines in biology (transmission genetic, molecular biology, genomics, developmental biology and population genetics) were characterised according to knowledge project, methods used and conceptual contexts. Depending on knowledge project, the gene may be used as a location of recombination, a target of regulatory proteins, a carrier of regulatory sequences, a cause in organ formation or a basis for a genetic map. Methods used range from catching wild birds and dissecting beetle larvae to growing yeast cells in 94 small wells as well as mapping of recombinants, doing statistical calculations, immunoblotting analysis of protein levels, analysis of gene expression with PCR, immunostaining of embryos and automated constructions of multi-locus linkage maps. The succeeding conceptual contexts focused around concepts as meiosis and chromosome, DNA and regulation, cell fitness and production, development and organ formation, conservation and evolution. These contextual differences lead to certain content leaps in relation to different conceptual schemes. The analysis of the various uses of the gene concept shows how differences in methodologies and questions entail a concept that escapes single definitions and “drift around” in meanings. These findings make it important to ask how science might use concepts as tools of specific inquiries and to discuss possible consequences for biology education.

  • 2015. Veronica S. Flodin, Per-Olof Wickman, Christina Ottander.

    This thesis is about knowing in biology in higher education and research. The gene concept is used as an example of knowledge content that is common to both biological research and education. The purpose is to study how knowing about the gene is expressed in different forms of knowledge contexts at the university. This is important to study in order to understand documented learning problems regarding the gene concept but also to better understand the relation between knowledge in research and teaching. Knowledge has to be transformed to become an educational content, a process that is of special interest within the field of Didaktik. The thesis is based on three qualitative case studies. Study I is an analysis of a textbook in biology. The purpose is to examine the content as presented to the students to see how its structure may contribute to the problems students have. How does the gene concept function as a scientific representation and at the same time as an object for learning in a biology college textbook? A phenomenographic approach is used to study implicit variation in gene concept use when the textbook treats different sub disciplines. The results show conceptual differences between them. The different categories of the gene found–as a trait, an information structure, an actor in the cell, a regulator in embryonic development or as a marker for evolutionary change–mean that we deal with different phenomena. The gene as an object is ascribed different functions and furthermore these functions are intermingled in the textbook. Since, in the textbook, these conceptual differences are not articulated, they likely are a source of confusion when learning about genes. Study II examines the gene concept use in a scientific context, as exemplified by five research articles from a scientific journal. Using an adaptation of Hirst’s criteria for forms of knowledge, the study characterizes how the scientific contexts for the gene concept use vary. What kinds of different gene concept use in these contexts can be discerned? When comparing the articles, it becomes evident that the gene concept is used to answer different kinds of questions. The meanings of the gene concept are connected to various knowledge projects, their purposes and the methods used. Shifts of methodologies and questions entail a concept that escapes single definitions and “slides around” in meanings. These contextual transformations and associated content leaps are here referred to as epistemic drift. Study III follows an integrative research project in biology.  What are the characteristic content conditions for knowledge development? What different ways in using the gene concept can be distinguished? By using the analytic methodology developed in study II, the scientific contexts are categorized according to their knowledge project, methods used and conceptual contexts. The results show that the gene concept meanings and the content vary in focus, are more or less explicitly formulated, or possible to formulate, and consist of different skills. One didactic conclusion is that by being more overt about the conditions for problem solving within a specific subdisciplin (i.e. fruitful questions to ask, knowledge needed to answer them, and methods available), students may be given opportunities to get a broader perspective on what it means to know biology.

Show all publications by Veronica Flodin at Stockholm University

Last updated: September 9, 2019

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