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Per Sund

About me

I am an active researcher and teacher educator in science and technology education with a specific focus on education for sustainable development and assessment. I have taken part in several major research projects and am currently active in the research environments SMEER (Science, Mathematics and Engineering Education Research, Karlstad), MND (Department of Mathematics and Science Education, Stockholm University) and SMED (Studies of Meaning-making in Educational Discourses, Örebro University and Uppsala University).

As well as being published in international research journals and supervising postgraduate students, I have had central roles in the creation and development of national and international research environments. One of these environments is the Graduate school in Education for Sustainable Development, GRESD), where I was coordinator and deputy scientific leader from 2008 to 2012, with Uppsala University as the host institution.

In parallel to this work I initiated an international collaboration in 2011, which led to the creation of the Environmental and Sustainability Education Research (ESER) Network. In 2013 ESER became an established research network that meets annually in conjunction with the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER). For the first four years (2013-16) I was the link convener for the network, which now consists of some 200 researchers from over 30 countries.

I am regularly employed as opponent and members of grading committees of doctoral theses and as s special adviser. 2016-2017 I was a special adviser in the panel of the National evaluation of sustainable development in higher education conducted by Swedish Higher Education Authority.

I am also an experienced and certified teacher of mathematics, chemistry, biology and the natural sciences at the nine-year compulsory- and upper secondary school levels. My accumulated skills and genuine interest in didactics have led to me being asked as a researcher and lecturer to run in-service courses and lead national and international educational projects. I have been responsible for development work in Denmark, Finland, India, Indonesia, China, Cameroon, Kenya, Mongolia, the UK, Sweden, Tanzania and Uganda. Research collaborations and presentations also include countries like Australia, Brazil, Canada, Malaysia and the USA.


I am interested in teaching content that integrates the key didactical questions of what, how and why. Teaching content consists of an integrated subject content (e.g. sustainable development) and a socialisation content, both of which are interesting to study from a teaching perspective. When teachers teach complex social issues with scientific content (so-called socio-scientific issues), they argue why these issues are important. The teacher’s answer to a pupil’s question ’Why should we learn this?’ is an important part of the socialisation content.

The answers open up for research studies that in different ways address the main purpose of the teaching, such as whether the pupils understand where the subject content is applicable, who can use it and why it is important to learn it. This also includes understanding which problems this knowledge can help to solve and what kind of knowledge pupils need to participate in the work. Apart from the teacher’s different verbal arguments, the socialisation content is created by how he or she carries out the teaching in practice. The teacher’s different actions are central in my studies: the extent to which the teaching is directed towards the outside world or environment and whether pupils are invited to be active co-creators in the teaching. Data is collected by means of individual- and group interviews as well as audio- and video recordings in the classroom.  The results show that over time teachers often develop different teaching habits based on their own personal views about the long-term purpose of their teaching. Knowledge about habits and anchor points is important in order to increase the possibilities for well reflected changes in their teaching practices.  

In the latest on going research project 2019-2021 financed by the Swedish school research institute ‘ Education for Sustainable Development: A Longitudinal Implementation Study’ I study teachers from different subject areas. Science , social science and language teachers are asked to discuss their specific contributions to education for sustainable development. Another interest in this project is to discern outer pressures on teachers’ teaching sustainability in the classroom beside the national curriculum.

Another research interest I have developed in recent years is to study teachers’ assessments of pupils’ practical abilities in connection with experimental work. These studies are carried out in the school laboratory during experimental work with the aid of static and mobile video equipment.  Small mobile video cameras with microphones mounted on spectacle frames open up a whole new world for researchers to study teachers’ and pupils’ conversations and actions during practical work. The first studies are about discerning and describing the various difficulties and obstacles that teachers encounter when assessing pupils’ individual experimental competencies in a complex environment such as the laboratory.

Future research areas are to further develop the video methodology and conduct in-depth studies on the qualitative aspects of pupils’ practical skills. This research aims at understanding what it means to have good laboratory habits and how important this is for the teaching and learning of science.


Per Sund