The emergence of the L1-research field in a Nordic perspective

Submitted by: Ellen Krogh
Abstract: The research field of L1-education – or L1-didactics – is young in the Nordic countries. Since the turn of the century, we have however, seen the emergence of national and Nordic research networks, conference and publication series, research programs, and the designation of positions as professors and associate professors (Ongstad, 2012). Studies of Nordic L1-research have taken stock of the disciplinary sub fields, but empirical studies of L1 didactics as a unitary field are in demand. The present study is a Nordic project, aiming at investigating the emergence of Nordic L1-research and its present profile(s) through PhD research within the field.
The study examines abstracts of Danish (n 32), Finnish (n 63), Norwegian (n 37) and Swedish (n 84) L1-didactic PhD dissertations defended between 2000 and 2017. Results show that the three major content fields are research on reading as a basic skill; research on writing; and research on the teaching and reading of literature. Further, the field has become more internationally oriented. The field is expanding through the period, except in Finland which has had a stable high number of dissertations. Growing governmental funding of PhD education can be related to policy reforms emphasizing research-based education and academization of teacher education. Analyses conclude that the research field has developed to become a professionalized region (Bernstein 2003, Holmberg & Nordenstam 2016). Thus, a subject didactic focus is generally prominent. A new trend is, however, emerging in the second half of the period. This trend can be understood in the perspective of Lambert’s (2017) second “hypothetical future” (2017), a research field concerned with skills and competences, and Ongstad’s idea of “strong didactization” (2012) as a movement towards general didactics.

Keywords: Nordic L1 research, expanding field, professionalized region, subject didactic focus, skills and competences

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