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FINNUT-Forskning og innovasjon i utdanningssektoren

Life skills in theory and practice. Knowledge base, perceptions and implementation of an interdisciplinary topic in Norwegian schools

Alternative title: Livsmestring i teori og praksis. Kunnskapsgrunnlag, oppfatninger og implementering av et tverrfaglig tema i norske skoler.

Awarded: NOK 10.0 mill.

LIFE wants to achieve a new and improved understanding of life skills education (LSE) in Norwegian schools, against a backdrop of discussion and unclarity regarding the understanding of the concept and ideas about good practice. LSE was introduced in the curriculum in 2020 as one of three cross curricular themes with vague explanations of what it was all about. The Norwegian word "livsmestring" has even broader connotation than the English term and when the concept is vague, this leads to problems for the practitioners who are implementing the curriculum. LIFE will explore different understandings of LSE through reviews of international literature and will study LSE in practice in Ireland to get a reference point for discussing practice in Norway. The main part of the study is focusing understandings and practices in Norwegian schools, both through a national survey and by conducting targeted case studies in 15-20 schools on different levels. The results from all these studies will be presented to a group of stakeholders from both practice and policy level, including school owners. They will assist the researchers in discussing both theoretical and practical aspects of LSE in Norwegian schools. Based on the results of the research project and the reflections and feedback from stakeholders, LIFE will present suggestions both for understanding of what LSE is and how it can be practiced in schools, drawing on a well-founded knowledge basis. The project will even contribute to broader discussions about the relationship between education system and society at large, including questions about what is realistic to achieve through education.

This project will develop a new concept of life skills education (LSE) in Norwegian schools to address unresolved challenges in the ongoing implementation and recent curriculum development. 'Folkehelse og livsmestring' (LSE) was introduced in 2020 as one of three interdisciplinary topics in Norwegian national curriculum. By using 'health and life skills' in official English translation, the government refers to international policy terminology, which is not necessarily equivalent to the broad and vague connotations of the Norwegian term ‘livsmestring’. The international and national state of the art, including public debate, leaves many questions open regarding the meaning, content, and practice of LSE, which also raise questions about policy intentions. LIFE will address knowledge needs that arise from the present situation through a systematic review and investigation of diverse understanding and practises of LSE on different curricular levels in in the education sector in Norway , using quantitative, qualitative and document studies. Views of school owners, school leaders, teachers, other school personnel and students, will be investigated through a national survey and case studies in 15-20 schools. A smaller scale study along similar lines will be done in Ireland to see if and how practice differs across national contexts and to make project results more robust through international comparison. Bringing these studies together, the final results will be presented to relevant stakeholders for common reflection in order to improve policy and practice. In addition to presenting empirical studies and scholarly discussion of LSE in Norway and Ireland, LIFE will address the challenges arising from implementation of LSE in Norway and contribute to an efficient, transparent and knowledge-based policy implementation and practice development in Norway. Thereby, LIFE assesses the quality and relevance of LSE as part of the interplay between education and society at large.

Funding scheme:

FINNUT-Forskning og innovasjon i utdanningssektoren