Abstracts and Papers


Andersson,  Joacim &  Risberg, Jonas: Analysing artistic expression in physical education
Andersson, Pernilla: Transactional analyses of teaching and learning – SMED studies 2006–2018
Caiman, Cecilia &  Jakobson, Britt: Meaning-making, aesthetic practice and science
Ferguson, Joseph (co-authored with Vaughan Prain and Charlotte Prezaro): Theorising inquiry in the science classroom: A Peircean account
Fiore, Andrea: Democracy in education: The importance on play in Dewey’s thought
Hansson, Petra;  Öhman, Johan & Thunblad, Pontus: Environmental and Sustainability Education in Museums - The Place of Aesthetic Experience
Håkansson, Michael & Östman, Leif: A transactional teaching and learning approach on political conflictsKlaar, Susanne: Action with friction – a transactional approach to toddlers’ physical and non-verbal meaning making
Lidar, Malena & Lundqvist, Eva: Functional coordination between present teaching and policy reform in Swedish science education
Östman, Leif and Johan Öhman: A transactional theory and methods for analysing learning
Rolandsson, Lennart: A case study: Could a didactical model help us see together?
Shabani, Mahmoud: Dewey’s Account on Realism: Extending Godfrey-Smith’s Reading
Van Poeck, Katrien: Investigating learning in action: A transactional dramaturgical analysis of learning in sustainability transition initiatives
Wickman, Per-Olof: Reading Dewey as a Scientist


Frank X Ryan: Philosophers’ Problems: Transaction in Philosophy and Life
Jim Garrison: Transactional Perspectivalism: The Emergence of Language, Minds, Selves and Temporal Sequences


Analysing artistic expression in physical education
Joacim Andersson, Örebro University
Jonas Risberg, Uppsala University

This paper connects to frameworks for analysing the environment of embodied action. Drawing on John Dewey’s primacy of social practice and the aesthetic encounter, participants’ meaning-making is conceived of as methods of action, i.e. ways of using things as means to shared consummation. Originating from this theoretical orientation the chapter argues for meaning as unit of analysis in order to explore movement learning, and that it is possible to reasonably infer learning directly from the learner’s palpably observable actions. It presents and illustrates an analytical model – Situated Artistic Relation (SAR) – that allow for empirical study of pupils’ artistic expression and aesthetic appreciation during PE lessons. “S” refers to that the learning is situated, “A” that it has artistic-aesthetic meaning, and “R” that it is relational and that feelings joins habits as important ways of embodying relations to physical material (e.g. equipment and artefacts). The model draws on Dewey’s robust contextualism and is here used to analyse audio-video data of PE lessons and explore learning as it goes from an instrumental learning of a body technique to an artistic expression through a body technique. Self-expression is something that pupils often develop while occupied by sustained expressive work in the educational activity. It is in such emergence that the SAR model contribute knowledge to how pupils (a) stage a specific environment out of the embodied material circumstances and (b) coordinate the staged environment in relation to a purpose (including personal self-expression) and perform bodily movements based on that coordination.

Transactional analyses of teaching and learning – SMED studies 2006–2018
Pernilla Andersson, Stockholm University

This report presents a selection of studies that have presented, developed and used methods for studies of processes of meaning-making in educational discourses within the research group SMED (Studies of meaning-making in educational discourses) in Uppsala and Örebro 2006–2018. The report provides a short introduction to the pragmatist theoretical framework and a brief description of the basic analytical methods. The ambition is to give an orientation useful for students, teachers, and researchers with interest for high-resolution analysis of teaching and learning processes in educational practices as well as other social practices where learning takes place. Learning processes is here understood in terms of meaning-making (including qualification, socialization as well as subjectification) and that which affects this process (teachers, other students, artefacts and the socio-material). The report includes a summary in four parts (1. science education, 2. democracy, environment and sustainability education, 3. Physical education, 4. Early childhood education). The interdisciplinary category ’Democracy, environment and sustainability education’ hold different school subjects such as; natural sciences, physical education, english, swedish, geography, social studies, business economics and sloyd, as well as non-formal activities such as discussions about sustainability issues in social media.

The role of art practice in elementary school science     
Cecilia Caiman, Stockholm University  
Britt Jakobson, Stockholm University 

In this study we examine the role of aesthetic practice in elementary school and the consequences for children’s meaning-making in science. We scrutinize what science learning emerges within the process, target the consequences of adopting art practice in science class and explore these two dimensions as a whole in order to better understand how children make meaning when exploring science, such as animals’ ecology. Data collection comprises audio recordings, photographs of children’s drawings and field notes. The school is located in Sweden, and the children participating in the study were between 6 and 7 years old (Swedish grade 1). Data was analyzed by means of practical epistemology analysis (PEA), taking its stance in Deweyan pragmatic philosophy on learning and meaning-making and Wittgenstein’s notion of language-games. The entanglement of science learning and art-in-the-making was shown to be of significance for broadening and deepening children’s science repertoire. In addition, imagination and creativity was a vital part of the children’s meaning-making when exploring a complex phenomenon, the spinneret, the ‘spider-thread machine’. Furthermore, all along the process the children dealt with contextual features, owned the problems throughout and developed agency through art and speech.  

Theorising inquiry in the science classroom: A Peircean account
Joseph Ferguson, Deakin University
Charlotte Pezar, University of Queensland
Vaughan Prain, Deakin University

Burgh and Nichols have argued that “there is a paucity of science education research centring on theorizing inquiry science pedagogy” (2012, p. 1046). Since that time, while increasing attention has been paid to addressing this lack of philosophical rigour, debate continues as to what precisely constitutes (productive) inquiry. This amorphousness means that the approach is at risk of being misconstrued, misrepresented and misappropriated. In this paper, we explore the unrealised potential of theorising inquiry in the science classroom in terms of Peirce’s pragmatic account of the fixation of belief (tenacity, authority, a priori, science) and the three inference making processes (deduction, induction, abduction) that constitute the method of science as the most productive path of reasoning when it comes to inquiry. We propose that this Peircean framing of inquiry can sit alongside related pragmatic accounts of inquiry, in particular those of Dewey, to establish a philosophical bedrock for the purposeful enactment of inquiry in the science classroom.

Democracy and education: The importance of play in Dewey’s thought
Andrea Fiore, Italy

The purpose of this paper is to sketch some elements that define the pedagogical significance of play for the construction and the conservation of a democratic community. Starting from the main principles of Dewey's pedagogy, the discourse focuses on play, intended as the philosophic category of the ludic, first, in connection to doing and experience, two fundamental notions of Dewey’s thought and his philosophy of education; then, it moves towards the relationship between play and work to come, finally, to play in connection to the social and political sphere. Along this path, it will be highlighted the central place occupied by the aesthetic side and affective element, concentrated especially in the definition of emotion given by Dewey, in order to show the link that connects play and democracy. The concept of emotion given by Dewey, especially in its aesthetic aspects, is connected to play. Play is an educational experience in which transaction is included because it creates integration.

Environmental and Sustainability Education in Museums - The Place of Aesthetic Experience
Petra Hansson, University of Oslo
Johan Öhman, Örebro University
Pontus Thunblad, The Nobel Prize Museum, Stockholm

The relationship between museums and societies and museums and education are in constant change. Today, museums show great interest in addressing sustainability issues (Falk & Dierking, 2012). In addition, museums are described as being valuable for promoting social learning and aesthetic experiences and how to promote visitors’ experiences of museums is given attention within the museum discourse (Falk & Dierking, 2012). However, pedagogical research on the relationship between museum visitors’ experiences, curated space and object display within the context of museum education is less frequent (Piqueras et al, 2008).  This paper explores the place of aesthetic experience in teaching and learning sustainability issues in museum education. The study is carried out at the Nobel Prize museum in Stockholm, Sweden in relation to the exhibition A Right to Freedom – Martin Luther King, Jr. The exhibition portrays Martin Luther King’s life and work and addresses complex ethical and political sustainability issues such as equality, racism, social injustice, peace and war as well as collaborative action and protest.

John Dewey’s (1949/2008) transactional theory and his theory of aesthetic experience (1934/2005) and Louise Rosenblatt’s (2005) transactional reader-response theory is used as theoretical frame for investigating the constitution of students’ aesthetic experiences while encountering the objects of the exhibition within the context of the educational programme.

A transactional teaching and learning approach on political conflicts
Michael Håkansson, Stockholm University
Leif Östman, Uppsala University

This is an empirical derived exploration on an educative ‘political moment’. Against the background of the work of the political theorist Chantal Mouffe, investigates the privileging and meaning making processes that occurs when conflicts is bodily and emotionally felt, i.e. when something is at stake for the participants and the argumentation turns into deliberation that follows by a decision. The term political moment (PM) builds on parts of Mouffe’s theory of the political and various scholars’ work on political emotions and places these aspects in a pragmatist standpoint of experience, feelings, emotions and meaning making. A political moment consist of having to make a decision in situations where fundamentally conflicting values and commitments are at stake. A political moment starts in an immediate and embodied experience of a conflictual situation. The idea of immediate experience is part of the pragmatic tradition. James (2003) calls it pure experience, Peirce (1992) refers to ‘firstness’ (see Bernstein 2010) and Dewey ([1925] 1981) discusses immediate qualitative experience. Albeit in slightly different ways, all these pragmatists emphasize the importance of experiences that are non-intentional and non-calculable. An educative political moment is inspired by Garrison et al (2015) who introduced “educative moment” in relation to situations when students are suddenly struck by a moral reaction in a knowledge-learning practice, i.e. when an epistemological decision is suddenly and non-intentionally interpenetrated by morality. According to Garrison et al (2015) this is a moment of opportunity in education and can be used as an educative moment because of the interpenetration and interrogation between different value spheres – include value conflicts, value criticism and value decision. Occasions such these comprise the educative moment (Garrison et al. 2015). At any moment, any value, political, aesthetic, or epistemological, may serve as an immediate, consummatory, and absolute value in itself. However, in any given situation, we might need to choose among values; such situations set the context for value inquiry and judgment. In such moments, value hierarchies become not only inverted but contorted.  In Dewey’s sense:  “…the thing actually at stake in any serious deliberation is not a difference of quantity, but what kind of person one is to become, what sort of self is in the making, what kind of world is making” (Dewey MW 14, 150). It is a transactional view in which the self and the world undergo simultaneous re-creation as a consequence of value deliberation. Such deliberation is merely a particularly important planetary instance of functional coordination when value clashes render our personal and cultural identity to be at stake. An understanding of ‘Deweyan’ deliberation is a process where we deal with incommensurable values in conflict, not with the purpose of making the incommensurable commensurable, but with the purpose of creating something new. It is in relation to these constructions we can find a more general argument for trying to use the occurrence of political moments as educative moments. Especially in the context of educating on controversial sustainability issues. 

Action with friction – a transactional approach to toddlers’ physical and non-verbal meaning making
Susanne Klaar, University of Borås

The purpose with the presentation is to illustrate how transactional theory can be used to investigate toddler’s practical, physical and non-verbal meaning making. The methodology takes a starting point in John Dewey’s theory of action, more specifically: transaction, and the concepts of inquiry, functional coordination and educative experiences as extended possibilities to act.  A toddler, 22 months old, was video-recorded when encountering icy and clayish surfaces during outdoor play in a Swedish preschool.

Practical Epistemological Analysis (PEA) was used to clarify meaning making by analyzing the toddlers’ encounter with nature. The analyzing process have a specific focus on what stands fast; what is immediately intelligible, a gap; when something is questioned and/or problematic in the situation, and relations created between different actions and their consequences; a gap-filling, meaning making process.

Functional coordination between present teaching and policy reform in Swedish science education
Eva Lundqvist, Uppsala University
Malena Lidar, Uppsala University

Major policy changes make teachers reconsider how they teach. In Sweden, a new curriculum, a grading system, and national tests were introduced in science education in Year 6 (Y6) for the 2012/2013 academic year. After two years the national tests were made voluntary, and they ended the following year. In this longitudinal interview study we investigate what implications these reforms had for teachers’ teaching and assessment practices in science education. Interviews with 10 teachers over four subsequent years were analysed by applying Dewey’s notion of habits in order to explore how teachers coordinate between their teaching habits and new policies. The result show that teachers work to adjust their teaching practices in order to; make teaching transparent, deal with the experience of increased levels of stress, develop professionally in collective practices, and reconsider the teaching content and methods. Most strikingly, almost all the teachers accepted the reforms as a positive element in their professional work. In the last round of interviews, it was evident that, after the tests were taken away, teachers downplayed the significance of the national tests as a factor that changed their teaching and changed what they consider as good science education.

A transactional theory and methods for analysing learning
Leif Östman, Uppsala University
Johan Öhman, Örebro University

In this paper we introduce a transactional methodology of learning. We do so by firstly address the specific content that is involved when learning habits. Here we take departure in the models of SER (situated epistemic relations) and SAR (situated artistic relations). We then continue with presenting a pragmatic take on the learning trajectory, starting with disturbance of habits, continuing with inquiry and resulting in a recreation of the habit that was disturbed. In the end we present solutions to methodological problems that often arises when researchers are trying to understand the aspects that influences the learning process and thereby the learning outcome. While most educational researchers are likely to agree that the intra-personal (individuals earlier conceptions, experiences, feelings, habits, etc.) and the environment (the interpersonal, the institutional and the physical) are the two main aspects that influences the learning, it is common that one of these aspects to be positioned as superior from the beginning and to predetermine the other, thereby causing different methodological problems. If the individual is the starting point, they tend to appear to be free to form their actions independent of the environmental context. If the starting point is the environmental context, it often appears to determine the individual’s actions and there is a tendency for individual differences to disappear. In order to avoid these two problems we argue and illustrate that John Dewey’s pragmatic philosophy, and especially his concept of transaction, makes it possible to create an analytical methodology (a package of analytical models and methods) that can deal with the interplay between the intra-personal and the environment without falling into the mentioned problems. The argument put forward here is thus that the transactional perspective overcomes the methodological problems connected with dualistic tendencies.

A case study: Could a didactical model help us see together?
Lennart Rolandsson, Uppsala University

My research draw on a case study, problematizing how practical epistemology analysis (PEA), could be used as a didactical model for use when analyzing in collaboration an educational activity. In the case, a teacher and I (researcher) scrutinized during four hours, a video recording, of three students engaged in a programming activity. My findings suggest that we repeatedly seeking consensus, as we searched for students’ previous knowledge (stands fast), the different relations they developed, and the knowledge gap underpinning their inquiry. We even agreed on the importance of language as a tool for students’ learning. The only thing we did not agree upon concerned the objectives of the activity, leading the students to one or many encounters.  As a researcher, I found a rationale in their way of exploring the aesthetics of code, while the teacher never considered that as an option, instead emphasizing the inquiry process with many dead-ends, as relevant to gain experience. My conclusion where based on many hours of analyzing the video recording, and his conclusion was based on many hours with that same activity in different settings. Probably, as Dewey would put it, we did our collaborative investigation with a unity of non-reflective experiences, based on our habits, me searching for a rationale or a narrative that would explain the students’ inquiry, and the teacher searching for students’ actions that would confirm his beliefs about teaching and learning. In the presentation, I will talk about “what is possible to see together”. Actually, in the beginning of our scrutiny I suspected that the teacher had a different objective than the students, as he said, “It so typical for boys to work as bricoleurs with a couple of dead-ends! They just have to walk the walk”. A stereotypical statement expressing boys’ way of doing an inquiry, as he later on, scrutinized his beliefs about the aesthetics of code for programming education in relation to his teaching

Dewey’s Account on Realism: Extending Godfrey-Smith’s Reading
Mahmoud Shabani, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran

Peter Godfrey-Smith, in his paper “Dewey and the Question of Realism” attempts to sketch Dewey’s view in the current debate between realists and constructivists. He believes that Dewey rejects both views and accepts reconstructivism. Here, we accept Godfrey-Smith interpretation of Dewey in the debate, but we will argue that if we take into account the Art as Experience, we could address other aspects of the conflict of the realists and the constructivists which have not been considered. Moreover, regarding the concept of science as represented in the Art as Experience, and comparison Dewey made between art and science, we can support the idea that Dewey is reconstructivist.

Investigating learning in action: A transactional dramaturgical analysis of learning in sustainability transition initiatives
Katrien Van Poeck, Ghent University

This paper engages with the question how transactional analytical methods can be employed to enrich frameworks for dramaturgical analysis and, in particular, to make these useful for empirical investigations of learning in the context of the transition towards a more sustainable world. Sustainability transitions are often seen as a matter of ‘learning by doing and doing by learning’, yet the literature on this topic is characterised by a lack of conceptual clarity and a weak empirical knowledge base. Developing a dramaturgical analytical framework using a transactional method for didactic research is a fruitful way to address this research gap by providing useful analytical tools.

Dramaturgical frameworks have been developed for investigating participative practices guided by the question how the design of a setting – i.e. its ‘scripting’, ‘staging’ and ‘performance’ – affects ‘what is said, what can be said, and what can be said with influence’. In order to render dramaturgical analysis useful for investigating learning practices it can be redesigned with the help of Practical Epistemology Analysis. Drawing on examples from an empirical study of workshops where people gather to create alternatives for unsustainable practices in the agro-food system, the paper illustrates a transactional dramaturgical analysis of what people learn within such a setting as well as which factors influence the learning process and outcomes. Furthermore, it shows how a transactional perspective helps to overcome an important limit of existing frameworks for dramaturgical analysis, that is a sequential perspective that hinders an understanding of learning in action. What the analysis shows, is that the way in which the design of a setting affects learning should not be understood in the sense of having a script and a stage – and subsequently act (perform) on it. Rather, it highlights the importance of scripting and staging in the performance, i.e. in action.

Reading Dewey as a Scientist
Per-Olof Wickman, Stockholm University

In education John Dewey is often read as a philosopher and as the founder of progressive education. Although reading him as a philosopher typically recognizes his naturalist bent, his claims are often examined in rational terms. Reading him as the founder of progressive education generally entails understanding him as an ideologist presenting a normative framework of what education should be. Reading him as a scientist, however, would mean that we recognize his interest in empirical evidence. Although his oeuvre does not encompass data in a modern sense, it, just like Darwin’s Origin of Species, is one long argument based on evidence. In his work, Dewey presents some acute empirical observations. Just like Darwin’s work presents basic phylogenetic principles for evolution of organismic traits building on ecological and historical premises, Dewey’s work presents basic ontogenetic principles for the evolution of human experience building on ecological and historical premises. Among those principles are his principle of continuity and his understanding of, for example, inquiry, transaction, and end-in-view. Reading Dewey as a scientist means that we read him like Darwin, and see his principles not as normative suggestions for proper conduct, but as observations of how people go about reaching certain ends. We need to see and understand the basic principles Dewey discovered and investigate how they could help us cope with educational questions. This is to a high degree a scientific enterprise of empirically and conceptually examining how his principles could be accommodated in various educational situations. In my presentation I will give examples of how such accommodations could be made.

Last modified: 2022-07-07