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Still money for mobility grants

The US is the most important country for Norwegian international research cooperation. Canada is another important partner for many Norwegian research groups. Norwegian authorities wish to promote even more cooperation between Norwegian and North American researchers in the field of educational research.

In 2012, the Ministry of Education and Research allocated a lump sum of USD 1 million for mobility grants to fund research and dissemination stays in Norway for top educational researchers from North America.

This is an independent activity, but the programme on Research and Innovation in the Educational Sector (FINNUT) at the Research Council is responsible for distributing the grants. According to the previous FINNUT programme coordinator, Ane Marte Rasmussen, the scheme is also intended to build expertise in Norwegian research groups.

Funding is being awarded for both short-term and longer term stays.
“We still have some money, so don’t hesitate to apply,” she says.

A few things underway
So far the Research Council has awarded smaller grants to just a few events in which North American researchers have been invited to Norway. In addition, the project “Teachers as Students” (TasS) at the University of Stavanger has received funding for an adjunct professor position.

Moreover, the BONDS project (the Behavior Outlook Norwegian Developmental Study): A Prospective Longitudinal Study of Early Development of Social Competence and Behavior Problems at the Norwegian Center for Child Behavioral Development in Oslo has used this funding to hire a top researcher from the US in a 20 per cent position.

Read more about the project here (in Norwegian only).

Terje Ogden is the project manager for the project at the Norwegian Center for Child Behavioral Development, and he says they have already gained much from having Dr Eric Dearing involved with the centre here in Norway.

Dr Eric Dearing of the Lynch School of Education at Boston College is conducting research on child development. (Photo: Boston College) Dr Ogden explains that Dr Dearing is a pioneering educational researcher at Boston College.“

He is knowledgeable about an area that is extremely interesting for our project – namely, child development and socioeconomic inequality.

Researchers at North American universities are generally at the forefront of research. There is so much competition that the best researchers are leaders in their fields and have a wide range of methodology skills.

Must have something to offer
It can be difficult to get a top researcher from the US to come to Norway for a short-term or longer term stay. According to Dr Ogden, it is a win-win situation for the institutions that succeed.

One of the researchers in the project, Henrik Daae Zachrisson, got to know Dr Dearing when he was conducting research in the US. Dr Ogden thinks it is a good idea to have met the researchers they invite to Norway. In addition, the institution needs to have something to offer the researcher.

Tempted by high-quality registry data
“Of course we are interested in getting top researchers to come to Norway. They are busy people, so their research stay must be well planned. They think: ‘What’s in it for me?’ They look at the opportunity to publish here because they want to get something concrete out of the stay itself. They want to do more than just be an adviser or share their knowledge.”

According to Dr Ogden, Norway’s high-quality registry data holds great appeal for many US researchers.

“We can tempt them with well-organised research data. We have far better registry data than US researchers are used to.”

Article in the New York Times
Dr Ogden’s research group has benefitted enormously from Dr Dearing’s visit. His stay at the centre has helped to solidify the already strong ties between the Norwegian and US research groups. The Norwegian researchers recently attended an annual conference in the US.

Thanks to the US network, the project has received a great deal of attention in the US. In 2013, the New York Times published a long article about the project, with reference to the situation in Norway.

“We have really enjoyed working together and have inspired each other,” says Dr Ogden.

Wider international orientation
An evaluation of Norwegian educational research showed that the research was too local in nature and that there were too few international publications.
Dr Ogden, who sits on the FINNUT programme board, thinks he sees the researchers picking up on these signals.

“Today the researchers are more internationally oriented and have clearer plans for publication. Another factor is that the budget frameworks for research allocations are much more generous. The opportunities for getting funding for international cooperation are much greater.”

Has shared knowledge at the national level
The FINNUT project “Learning to Teach Lesson Study in Initial Teacher Education” at the University of Stavanger has also received funding under the activity Mobility Grants North America in Educational Research (UTNAM).

Elin Marie Thuen, departmental head in the Faculty of Arts and Education, is very pleased that they have been able to establish contact with Aki Murata, one of the world leaders in the Lesson Study method. She is employed at the University of California, Berkeley, and is now an adjunct professor at the University of Stavanger as well. She has been a member of the reference group for the project.

Dr Aki Murata, Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley, is a leading researcher in the Lesson Study method. (Photo: University of California Berkeley) “We have used funding from the mobility programme to further strengthen our association with Dr Murata. She comes here on a regular basis and has participated in project meetings and discussions. She has also led workshops to spread knowledge about this method at the national level,” says Dr Thuen.

A 140-year-old method
In addition to providing the project with her expertise, Dr Murata has taken part in the research itself. Data from both Norway and the US have been compiled in order to compare the two countries.

Dr Murata was born and raised in Japan, where the Lesson Study method has existed for 140 years. In this method, the teacher simply studies her or his own teaching in a systematic manner to find out how pupils think, understand and learn.

Read more about the Teachers as Students (TasS) project here (in Norwegian only).

“We have learned a lot from our contact with both Dr Murata and a large, prestigious US university such as UC Berkeley. One of our employees is currently conducting a four-month stay there thanks to the network we have established,” says Dr Thuen.

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