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Rethinking conflict: An investigation of how emerging conflicts can be utilized to promote learning

Disagreements in the classroom, name-calling on the playground, misunderstandings and clashing views, conflicts have always been present in schools. Conflicts can become constructive and promote development and learning, or they can become desctructive and lead to traumas and violence.

About the project 

Conflicts are unavoidable and no matter how well trained or skillful teachers may be, they will inevitably encounter a myriad of conflicts on a daily basis. In this project, we are interested in emerging conflicts that can be negotiated or mediated and have not yet escalated to the point where they must be reported to the Swedish Schools Inspectorate or Equality Ombudsman. Because emerging conflicts go unreported, they are rarely explored and studied by researchers. They are often invisible outside of the contexts in which they occur. Moreover, it is not clear how teachers and schools handle emerging conflicts in ways that either support or undermine learning.

Due to the profound importance of emerging conflicts as educational tools, the proposed project seeks to investigate ways in which teachers conceptualize and work with emerging conflicts in their classrooms as well as the ways in which emerging conflicts can be utilized by teachers to promote learning.

Research Question 1: What are the qualitatively different ways in which teachers conceptualize emerging conflicts and conflict resolution? What are the educationally critical aspects of their conceptualizations? What are the didactic implications of their conceptualizations?

Research Question 2: What do teachers‘ conceptualizations look like in practice? Which conflict resolution strategies do they use? To what extent do these strategies promote and diminish learning? Which strategies do they use to explicitly promote learning that implicitly play a role in conflict resolution?

Research Question 3: Which resources do teachers employ to address emerging conflicts? What do they find useful? What do they need?
The study consist of two stages that will be undertaken over the course of four years. The first stage will consist of a phenomenographic study and the second stage of an observational investigation employing a stimulated recall methodology


Research team members

Ilse Hakvoort, Senior lecturer, Department of Education and Special Education, University of Gothenburg.

Agneta Lundström
, Senior lecturer, Applied Educational Science, Umeå University

Kristoffer Larsson, senior lecturer, Department of Pedagogical, Curricular and Professional Studies, University of Gothenburg.

Åke Ingerman, Professor in Science and Technology, Department of Pedagogical, Curricular and Professional Studies, University of Gothenburg.

Thomas Jordan, Senior lecturer in Work Science, Department of Sociology and Work Science, University of Gothenburg

Jonas Lindahl, Postgraduate student at Department of Sociology, Inforsk, University of Umea.

Elizabeth Olsson, PhD in peace and development research at the School of Global Studies, University of Gotenburg (Aug 2015-Febr 2016; Jan-May 2017).

Financial supported

The Swedish Research Council

Project duration and total funding

2015-2018. Total 6.151 million SEK 

Ilse Hakvoort


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Ilse Hakvoort

Titel: Fil. Dr.
Telefon: 031-773 2485

Contact Information

Department of Education and Special Education

PO Box 300, SE-405 30 Gothenburg, Sweden

Visiting Address:
Pedagogen Hus A, Västra Hamngatan 25

+46 31 786 0000

+46 31 786 2070

Page Manager: Anders Åkerström|Last update: 6/11/2017

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