About Ifous, the membership and our R&D programmes
Ifous – innovation, research and development in schools and pre-schools. Ifous is an independent research institute that works to create benefits for Swedish schools and pre-schools and to strengthen their capacity to compete and innovate on a national and international level. We do this by initiating and financing research and development in the Swedish school education sector as well as utilising the results.
- We aim to be a national strategic knowledge resource and help to generate debate and greater knowledge for teachers and leaders in the school sector.
- Ifous is funded by its members as well as through grants and donations.
- The company is run as a non-profit, i.e. profits are reinvested into the business and identified areas of need.
- We offer business-driven research and development and its subsequent implementation as well as innovation management and training.
- The results of our work shall be visible in the classroom and, as a result, reflected in pupils’ motivation and knowledge.
Our R&D programmes
Local education authorities that are members of Ifous can initiate and participate in our research and development (R&D) programmes.
The single, overarching goal of all our R&D programmes is to improve learning for children and young people. In our R&D programmes, local education authorities, pre-schools and schools collaborate with researchers to:
– Develop educational practices grounded in scientific evidence and proven experience
– Generate knowledge in this area by studying and documenting the teaching and learning processes
Our R&D programmes focus on needs identified by Ifous members. By undertaking long-term development processes together at all levels (classroom, management and administrative), as well as by using and strengthening collaborative learning, we are able to achieve sustainable change.
Development processes at all levels
In our R&D programmes, development processes are conducted in the classroom as well as at a management and system level (e.g. administrative). A central part of our R&D programmes is the exchange of knowledge and experience, both within organisations as well as between other schools and local education authorities. We therefore use approaches that are based on, and at the same time strengthen, collaborative learning. Documentation is an important part of development work and it enables best practice to be built up over time.
Development processes and research both take time, therefore, our R&D programmes run over a period of 3-4 years. This long-term approach, along with collaborative learning, helps to create sustainable change.
In parallel to the development processes, additional scientific evidence is gathered through research, which is undertaken to study methods in action and the actual development that taking place within schools and local education authorities. Research is conducted on the ground so that both researchers and practitioners can learn from each other.
Ifous’ role is to lead and support the development processes and to project manage and coordinate the various parts. We use digital tools for communication within the programmes, but we also meet regularly at organised development seminars, consisting of inspiring lectures interspersed with group discussions and work on specific issues.
To get a better insight into how the process works, read an interview with Henrik Hamilton (in Swedish), who is process manager for an R&D programme on Inclusive Learning Environments, and his thoughts on the process work. There is also a handbook for participants in R&D programmes (in Swedish).
Ongoing R&D programmes
Ifous is currently running the following R&D programmes together with its members:
Inclusive Learning Environments
Inclusive Learning Environements is our second R&D programme about Inclusion – an important topic since many local education authorities and schools are actively working to create inclusive schools that meet the needs of all pupils.
The purpose of this R&D programme is to develop new knowledge in this area as well as disseminate existing knowledge to school authorities, school leaders, teachers and special needs teachers. The ambition is to develop working methods and approaches for both decision-makers and teachers from all levels of the school system. The programme started in January 2017 and involves seven municipalities and almost 250 participants.
Teaching in preschools
Preschools in Sweden today face a range of new expectations, challenges, needs and requirements, which are outlined in national policies. Educational programmes must be based on scientific evidence and proven experience.
The purpose of this R&D programme is to determine what characterises preschool teaching that meets the national policy requirements. The programme started in 2016.
Remote education – better prospects for learning
In this project we aim to develop and study the opportunities of new and sustainable practices within the field of remote education. The project aims to support the fulfillment of every student´s right to an equal education, which in the long term will create social and economic opportunities for individuals and society.
The overall goal is to develop knowledge of how remote teaching with existing and future digital tools can be organized and implemented to provide students the best possible education and support for their learning.
This two-year project started 2016 and is a collaboration between Ifous, Umeå University, RISE Interactive and seven school authorities. The work is partly funded by Vinnova.
Learning for newly arrived students
The programme started in 2017 and is a collaboration with Örebro municipality and Mälardalens högskola.
Coding in primary and secondary school
Kick-off of this R&D programme is in October 2017. Questions in focus are how coding can support learning in the subjects, and what students actually learn when they learn to code. Initially, the main focus subject for research is mathematics, but participants can and will work with any subject that includes coding in the curriculum.
Finished R&D programmes
Digitalization in schools
Digital tools are increasingly being used in both pre-schools and schools. When the programme started many schools were in the process of introducing or planning to introduce ”one-to-one” computing, i.e. one computer for every pupil. What is the impact of ICT tools on learning and how can teaching change and evolve with the help of these tools? What is needed in terms of organisation and management structures? These and other issues were studied in this R&D programme. It started in 2013 and the final reports were published in 2017.
Entrepreneurial learning – a driver and motivation for success in schools
Entrepreneurial learning is an educational approach that involves developing pupils’ motivation, independence, creativity, teamwork and confidence.
The purpose of this R&D programme was to provide schools with support to carry out development work on entrepreneurial learning and to monitor its impact through research. The research will study connections between entrepreneurial learning and pupils’ results. The programme started in 2012 and the final report published 2015. Two doctoral theses are published (December 2016 and May 2017) and a number of papers have been published in scientific journals.
Inclusive Learning Environments
Inclusion is a hot topic and many local education authorities and schools are actively working to create inclusive schools that meet the needs of all pupils.
The purpose of this R&D programme was to develop new knowledge in this area as well as disseminate existing knowledge to school authorities, school leaders, teachers and special needs teachers. The ambition is to develop working methods and approaches for both decision-makers and teachers. The programme started in 2012 and the final report published in 2015. Two doctoral theses are presented in December 2017.
Young children’s learning – how to maximise and stimulate learning
Pre-schools are becoming a separate type of school with a clearer role in children’s learning. Research and experience show that children’s creativity and motivation decrease the older they get.
The purpose of this R&D programme is to develop documentation and evaluation models to track young children’s learning against curriculum areas in order to give a picture of the quality of the pre-school and its development needs with respect to children’s learning. The programme started in 2013 and the final report published in 2017. Five licentiate theses will be presented in the beginning of 2018.
As a collaborator in R&D projects, Ifous has the following responsibilities:
Project management – We manage processes, communicate, recruit participants, design programmes and set up collaborations, from start to finish.
Coordination – We act as a link between schools and researchers during the commissioning process in order to find the best and most cost effective research.
Implementation support – We turn theories into practice and ensure that results are of practical use.
How we are funded
We are run and funded mainly by our members (local education authorities) and also receive funding from companies and foundations. The membership fee is determined by the size of the organisation. Therefore, all local education authorities, both large and small, have the opportunity to become members.
Membership includes being kept informed about the latest research and development results via our Matchmail email alert service as well as our research magazine, Skolporten. Members also have the opportunity to publish papers and disseminate their own experiences of development work through our channels as well as participate in, and influence the content of, R&D projects run in partnership with us and other members.
Management and Board of Directors
The CEO of Ifous is Marie-Hélène Ahnborg. Our Board collectively represents a broad range of expertise in research and education issues and consists of
Per Reinolf, Chairman, owner and founder,
Per-Arne Andersson – Educational Director, The Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions, SALAR,
Cecilia Carnefeldt – CEO, KED Educational Programme
Patrik Forshage – Educational Director, Täby kommun
Einar Fransson – Production Director, Nacka Municipality,
Marcus Strömberg – CEO, AcadeMedia
Tomas Thorvaldsson – Professor Chalmers University of Technology, CEO Swerea,
Membership in Ifous
Support, influence and stay informed
Our members consist of local education authorities and independent schools, universities, colleges and other organisations that are interested in supporting and being involved in school research and development work. Our definition of school ranges from pre-school right through to adult education. The membership fee is determined primarily by the size of the organisation. Therefore, all employers and organisations, regardless of size, have an opportunity to
Membership in Ifous
- Opportunity to participate in, and influence the content of, research and development projects.
- Subscription to our research magazine, Skolporten.
- Opportunity to publish papers on your development work, according to our publishing guidelines.
- Opportunity to design seminars and workshops on innovation and development issues together.
- Keep informed of the latest research studies, scientific articles and papers written by other members about their development work via Matchmail, our email alert service.
- All teachers can subscribe to Matchmail free of charge under one main user (e.g. their manager).
Being a member of Ifous means supporting closer collaboration on research and development in schools to collectively make a difference that is visible in the classroom. This means that local education authorities are actively involved in supporting teachers and managers to keep abreast of news in the educational research field. Membership also gives you an opportunity to influence research and development in preschools and schools through participation in our R&D programmes.
If you have more extensive development work that you would like to document in an academic way, you are welcome to publish your teaching and learning experiences in a paper. The paper must meet certain guidelines and also be reviewed by a postdoctoral person in order to ensure its scientific quality. These papers can be distributed within your organisation and externally via our Matchmail service.
We help teachers and leaders of preschools and schools to keep abreast of news within the field of educational research.
Our research magazine, Skolporten, is a popular science journal that follows trends and current research and development issues in pre-schools and schools. In it, Ifous highlights interesting research and successful development work to inspire and be used in your everyday work. Topics include pedagogy, didactics, leadership and management.
Through our Matchmail service, you can keep up-to-date with the latest research and development. In addition to academic studies and interviews with researchers, you will also find research articles from other journals as well as papers written by our members. In Matchmail, the content is organised by type of school, making it easy to scan.
In partnership with its members, Ifous seeks to initiate, influence and conduct research and development based on your needs and requests. Our role is to listen, collaborate, process and project manage, coach, administer and commission research with researchers who can and want to meet your needs for new knowledge and development. A local education authority that participates in one of our R&D programmes is required to contribute to its financing. Read more about our R&D programmes.
Ifous is run and funded by our members with support from the business community. We welcome collaborations with companies that want to work to create better schools in Sweden. Learn more about our supporting members here.