Research on the Welfare State Professions (VelfY)

Velferdsstatens yrker. Illustrasjonsfoto.

The research group VelfY (Welfare state professions - qualification and professional practice) aims to contribute to strengthen the profession-oriented research at USN. The group will contribute to knowledge development in, for and with the welfare state professions.

Welfare state professions face a number of challenges concerning the relationship between welfare ambitions, professional and bureaucratic accountability and recipients’ needs; challenges that are central both in education and in professional practice.

VelfYs research group has a practical profile and aims to work innovatively in an equal partnership with the education and professional field. The research aims to elucidate cross professional as well as profession specific factors that affect the quality of education, employment and service provision in various areas. A special focus will be on quality in education and employment, concepts operationalized through research work focusing on leadership, mentoring and recruitment and dropouts from the occupations. The research group’s objectives must also be seen in conjunction with the Centre for professionalization’s mandate and objectives to which the group is associated.

The research group has a multidisciplinary profile and is composed of participants from different faculties and professional programs at USN; Social and health sciences, teacher education, pedagogy, sociology and literature science contributes into the research.

The research group has local, regional, national and international partners.

The research group is led by docent Hilde Larsen Damsgaard (HS), fellow Irmelin Kjelaas (HS), Associate professor Eva Bjerkholt and Associate professor Elin Ødegård (EFL).

The research group’s main focus areas with associated themes:

Education quality

Work quality

  • Quality of student life and in the education
  • Participation in and drop out from higher education
  • Education management
  • Mentoring in higher education
  • Quality of work life and quality in service
  • Participation in and drop out from the occupations
  • Management within occupations of the Welfare state
  • Mentoring newly qualified teachers and experienced professional practitioners
  • Mentoring for developing quality and innovation


The following projects are initiated for 2014-2015:

  • ProV – Professional development through mentoring

This is a Nordic research project where municipalities, colleges and universities in Denmark Norway and Sweden have entered into an equal partnership (network). In the network, the participants will collaborate in studying political governance documents, mentoring conversations between students and mentors, colleagues at individual schools and mentoring of newly qualified teachers (NQT's).
Project leader: Eva Bjerkholt


The intention of the project is quality development in kindergartens. In this process-oriented project, focus will be on staff involvement. Involvement is seen as a key element in quality development.

Prosjekt leader: Elin Ødegård

  • Research project on classroom management: Classrom Interaction for Enhanced Student Learning (CIESL)

This research project started autumn 2014. Scientists examine how teachers in 120 classes manage their students. Teacher Environmental Centre at the University of Stavanger (UiS) collaborate with the University College of Telemark (HiT).
Project: Sigrun Ertesvåg (UiS). Project staff from Telemark: Merete Høgseth Kronstadt and Anne Høva Glenna.

  • Quality and learning in higher education

This interdisciplinary research project initiated in 2015 aims to develop new research-based knowledge about the quality of higher education aimed at working with children and adolescents. It also aims to differentiate and expand the concept of quality by illuminating quality seen from the "inside", through students and staff eyes. In addition, the project aims to recognize and analyze factors that can promote participation and prevent dropout from higher education.
Project leader: Hilde Larsen Damsgaard. Researchers: Kjersti Røsvik and Ann Kristin Larsgaard.

The Research group's work

We will work constructively with applications for internal and external research and cooperation funds, and establishment and strengthening of national and international research collaborations. The research group has a dynamic action plan and publication plan. In addition, project plans are compiled for each project.

The research started its operational work 01/08/2014. In the following year we will work on projects within the main focus areas Education quality and Work quality. Several of the projects are initially profession-specific. However, we will also start planning a multi-professional project within the main focus area Work quality, with intended initiation in August 2015.

The model below illustrates the research activities of the group in the two areas for the period 08.01.2014 - 01.08.2015:

Projects in Education quality

Projects in Work quality:

  • Adapted education in elementary school and high school - a qualitative study amongst teachers in elementary school and high school
  • Mentoring newly qualified students
  • Classroom management: CIESL (Classroom Interaction for Enhanced Student Learning)- a study amongst teachers. Financed by Nasjonalt senter for læringsmiljø og adferdsforskning
  • Quality and learning in higher education - a qualitative study amongst students and employees in higher education, focusing on work with children and young people
  • Planning the project "Work quality in the Welfare state's professions - participation and dropouts"
  • Theory and practice in the Teacher Educations (ProV). A qualitative study of mentoring in the education's practical teacher training periods. Funded by Nordplus Horisontal
  • Theory and practice as a new professional (ProV). A qualitative study of mentoring programs for new professionals in the Nordic countries. Funded by Nordplus Horisontal.
  • Theory and practice in the European Teacher education. Preparatory work for an EU application in 2017

Research Group Leader: