How teaching methods can be developed to improve student learning

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How can the education process improve student learning, and what will it take for the necessary changes to actually advance from management decision to implementation? Lena Nilsson-Wikmar is Professor of Physiotherapy specialising in Education at the Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society’s and her research focuses on learning in higher education.

Lena Nilsson-Wikmar’s physiotherapy professorship is centred on education, which means that her research focus will henceforth be on issues relating to how teaching methods can be developed as a means to improving student learning from both a professional and interprofessional perspective.

“KI is currently working very hard on modernising its teaching, which is why research is needed in this field too,” she explains. The existing research often points out the advantages of studentcentred learning, and education rooms are currently being erected at KI to help make it happen. But what then?

“Implementation is difficult to research, but critical,” says Professor Nilsson-Wikmar. “How are these new possibilities exploited? What is it that ultimately decides whether a teacher enters a room and gives the same old lecture or chooses a more student-centred interactive pedagogical approach? These are the kinds of question that we ask in our research.”

Although Professor Nilsson-Wikmar’s research will focus mainly on the physiotherapy programme, she hopes that her results will be of more general relevance to the whole university.

In parallel with this work, Professor Nilsson-Wikmar will also be continuing her research on back pain from a bio-psychosocial perspective and her involvement in two international projects studying people with spinal cord injury using instruments recommended by the International Spinal Cord Society.

Text: Anders Nilsson, first published in "From Cell to Society" 2015. Translation: Neil Betteridge.