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Variation theory after a learning study
Karlstad University, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology (starting 2013), Department of Mathematics and Computer Science. (SMEER)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6525-9871
2013 (English)In: WALS The World Association of Lesson Studies Internatioonal Conference 2013. Lessons and Learning Studies in teaching Research: Conference Programme & Abstract and Papers / [ed] Holmqvist Olander, M., Kullberg Bergstrand, C., Kullberg, A., Göteborg: Uniersity of Gothenborg , 2013Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

After learning study was introduced in Sweden 2003, several schools have been conducting learning studies. During 2009-2011 a boom was visible due to possibilities for financial support from the government through the mathematics initiative. Learning study became a well-known concept at schools all over Sweden. Some evaluations of the governmental support have pointed out important factors for sustainability of learning study as professional development. The question of sustainability of a learning study has also been addressed at several previous papers at previous WALS conferences.


Some schools have incorporated learning study in their daily practice by which sustainability is achieved; others have tried to maintain the professional development of their teachers in other ways. One such way is to work actively with variation theory outside a learning study setting. In a learning study, variation theory is used both as a tool for analysis and as a tool for planning lessons.  To obtain sustainability of a learning study, variation theory is often put forward as a main key for its sustainability. Teachers state that they use the knowledge obtained through learning study while planning their other lessons. A question can be raised: in what way can variation theory be used to obtain sustainability of professional development obtained through conducting a learning study?


This paper reports on examples of the use of variation theory outside a learning study setting. A group of teachers continued with supervised professional development after having conducted a learning study. Discernment and the patterns of variation theory were frequently used to describe the content of lessons and to adjust tasks used in the lessons towards the intended object of learning. During the presentation, examples will be given of the use of variation theory of the participating teachers.


Through learning study, variation theory as a theory of learning is implemented but as learning study is not possible to conduct for every lesson opportunities for further use of variation theory have to be made explicit. Variation theory as a tool for planning lessons can be developed further and the phase ‘after’ a learning study can be elaborated on. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Göteborg: Uniersity of Gothenborg , 2013.
Keyword [en]
variation theory, mathematics, teachers' professional development, TPD
National Category
Educational Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-29571OAI: diva2:656971
WALS The World Association of Lesson Studies, the 9th International Conference “Lesson and Learning Study as teacher research”, Gothenburg university, September 6-9
Available from: 2013-10-17 Created: 2013-10-17 Last updated: 2016-02-17Bibliographically approved

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