Max Scheja

Max Scheja


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Works at Department of Education
Telephone 08-16 44 61
Visiting address Frescativägen 54
Room 1703
Postal address Institutionen för pedagogik och didaktik 106 91 Stockholm

About me

As Professor of Higher Education a substantial part of my work within the Department of Education involves supervising PhD students and teaching on various courses offered at the department. I also take an active role in Stockholm University's Centre for the Advancement of University Teaching, aiming to support academics in their professional development as university teachers.

My research interests centre broadly on students' studying and learning processes in higher education. In particular I am interested in understanding students' processes of coming to understand subject matter in different higher education settings. Over the years I have been involved in research projects investigating studying and learning processes in, for instance, engineering, mathematics, medicine, nursing, psychology, teacher education and political science.

Over the years I have had, and still have, a long standing research collaboration with colleagues at Sophiahemmet University, the Karolinska Institutet, Karolinska University Hospital, The Royal Institute of Technology, and The University of Edinburgh.

I act as convenor of the Swedish Higher Education Research Network (SHERN) Seminar at the Department of Education, which invites colleagues to regular discussion of ongoing research on issues of topical interest for teaching, learning and assessment in higher education. 

Previous engagements
Between 2003 and 2005 I was Assistant and Acting Director of the Centre for Cognitition Understanding and Learning at Karolinska Institutet. I have also been a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh in the UK.

Expert assignments
Since 2013 I serve on the Expert Panel for the Social Sciences and Humanities at the Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation and Research in Higher Education.


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2018. Anna Hörberg (et al.). Scandinavian Journal of Trauma, Resuscitation and Emergency Medicine 26

    Background Working in the emergency medical service (EMS) can be extremely varying and sometimes physically and psychologically demanding. Being new in this context can be a great challenge. This study aim to describe what ambulance nurses consider to be important support during the first year in the EMS.

    Methods Three hundred and eighty-nine eligible participants that had graduated from the prehospital emergency care program were identified via university registrations office in Sweden. The eligible participants received a study specific questionnaire via mail consisting of 70 statements about support during the first year. The perceived importance of each statement were graded on a 7-point Likert scale. The gradings were analysed using descriptive statistics and frequencies, mean and SD were calculated.

    Results Two hundred and thirty questionnaires were returned fully completed, giving a response rate of 59%. Fourteen statements regarding desirable support were rated with mean values >6.00 and SD<1.00 and considered as being the most important during the first year in the EMS. The important supports regarded; colleagues and work environment, management and organisation, experience-based knowledge, introduction period, practical support, and theoretical support. Most statements regarded culture and climate and the way the newcomers wanted to be treated.

    Conclusion It was concluded that an important way to support newcomers in the EMS is to treat them nice'. This can be achieved by creating an open climate and a welcoming culture where the new professionals feel trusted and treated with respect, created ways to work structurally, have applicable medical guidelines, and for newcomers to receive feedback on their actions.

  • 2018. Kerstin Pettersson (et al.). Higher Education 75 (5), 827-838

    This combined interview and survey study explored the relationship between interview data and data from an inventory describing engineering students' ratings of their approaches to studying. Using the 18-item Approaches and Study Skills Inventory for Students (ASSIST) students were asked to rate their approaches to studying in relation to particular statements. A subsample of nine first-year engineering students participated in subsequent interviews exploring their experiences of studying and learning. The students' views were examined and interpreted into inventory scores which were compared to the students' actual ratings. The interviews confirmed the scales measured in the inventory and provided illustrations to them. While students who were extreme in either approach were easier to interpret, others provided a good example of the complex combination of approaches that can exhibit itself in one individual. The study illustrates how combined data sets can contribute to achieve a holistic understanding of student learning in its context.

  • 2018. Maria Öhrstedt, Max Scheja. Educational research (Windsor. Print) 60 (1), 80-96

    BackgroundHow students go about studying, including the learning activities that students engage in both during and between classes, is not easily understood. Previous research indicates that critical student features, such as approaches to learning and decisions of how to organise studying activities, develop in bidirectional interactions between personal and learning environmental factors. However, attempts to influence students' studying activities in certain directions by manipulating the learning environment often prove unsuccessful. A deeper analysis of the student perspective is needed, since students' subjective perceptions of the learning environment to a great extent will influence their individual ways of going about studying and learning. In particular, we need to clarify which aspects steer students towards focusing on certain studying activities in a particular course context.PurposeThis study aimed at elaborating the student perspective of the process of selection of studying activities. It did this by searching for similarities in references to factors perceived as guiding this process among students representing very different combinations of approaches to learning.Sample, design and methodsStudents' approaches to learning were evaluated with the Approaches and Study Skills Inventory for Students (ASSIST) in two successive psychology introductory courses (N=261). A random (N=5) and a purposive (N=6) student sample was then selected and interviewed. Seven of the students also took part in follow-up interviews six months later. The qualitative analysis aimed at mapping and extracting similarities in students' perceptions of, and dealing with, the selection of studying activities.ResultsDespite considerable differences in students' approaches to learning and reported studying activities, all students interviewed referred to a common set of reference points perceived as guiding their ways of studying, i.e. their perception of (1) previous studying experiences, (2) course recommendations, (3) learning outcomes, (4) assessment demands and (5) time and effort spent on studying.ConclusionsWe suggest that students' selection of studying activities may be seen as a process of negotiation based on input from certain reference points. In the course context under study, the targeting process resulted in a general homogenisation of studying activities and permitted students to feel they were studying efficiently. Although possible generalisation of the results remains to be investigated, it is suggested that understanding students' perceptions of reference points and general understanding of the targeting process could contribute to a better grasp of how student factors, course contexts and students' perceptions of these, interact.

  • 2017. Anna Hörberg (et al.). Nurse Education in Practice 27, 63-70

    New nurses and nurses new to a professional practice go through a transition where they adopt a new professional identity. This has been described as a challenging time where peer support and limited responsibility are considered necessary. Little is known about the experience of nurses being new to the ambulance service where support is limited and the nurse holds full responsibility of patient care. The aim of this study has therefore been to explore nurses' experiences during their first year of employment in the Swedish ambulance service. Data was generated from semi-structured interviews with 13 nurses having less than 12 months of experience of work in the ambulance service. The nurses represented nine different districts in Sweden. Analysis was a latent inductive qualitative content analysis. The analysis resulted in the main category, Striving for balance during the transition process in the ambulance context. Transition in the ambulance service was experienced as a balance act between emotions, expectations and a strive for professional development. The balance was negatively affected by harsh, condescending attitudes among colleagues and the lack of structured support and feedback. In striving for balance in their new professional practice, the nurses described personal, unsupervised strategies for professional development.

Show all publications by Max Scheja at Stockholm University

Last updated: March 27, 2019

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