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Changes in opportunities to learn: Swedish pupils results in large international studies over time

The main aim of the project is to investigate possible determinants of the declining level and equity of educational achievement in Sweden. One of the hypotheses is that these trends are related to the decentralization, deregulation and marketization reforms in the late 1980s and early 1990s. With a starting point in a theoretical framework known as OTL (Opportunity To Learn) we take advantage of the international comparative studies and use them as a lens through which we can examine the Swedish practices and policies in education, such as the structure, organization, delivery, and content of instruction. A major challenge is to disentangle the effects of different sources of change on educational outcomes. Furthermore, many features of educational policies can only be observed at the system level across countries. Thus, in the project we examine achievement trends and their determinants in Sweden, using other educational systems as points of reference.

The project primarily relies on data from the international studies conducted after 1995, such as TIMSS and PIRLS from IEA, and PISA from OECD. These studies allow both comparisons across countries and analyses of within-country change over time, and they therefore have great potential to provide insights into determinants of educational outcomes worldwide. We will apply different analytical methods to tackle the challenge of causal inference with observational data, such as difference-in-differences approaches, instrument variable analysis, analyses with-country-level fixed effects, and multilevel analysis within the structural equation modelling framework. The project includes three sub-projects in which we investigate different aspects of OTL in relation to student’s achievement.

It is expected that the investigations of the impact of teaching and school related factors on changes in opportunity to learn will contribute important new theoretical and empirical knowledge and that it will also offer guidelines to policy-makers and practitioners to improve the general quality of schooling as well as the compensatory functions of schools. The project will also contribute methodological development in educational research, in particular, in the areas of measurement of educational outcomes and credible causal inference.


  1. Curricular impact and validity of assessments;
  2. Effects of quality of instruction on educational outcomes;
  3. Effects of home background, homework and out-of-school activities.


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Kajsa Yang Hansen
+46 (0) 31 786 2397

Contact Information

Department of Education and Special Education

PO Box 300, SE 405 30 Gothenburg

Visiting Address:
Pedagogen Hus A, Västra Hamngatan 25

+46 (0)31 786 0000

Page Manager: Bo Nielsen|Last update: 3/12/2018

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