Pupils in a classroom
Photo: Sobima

Individualization, Motivation, Performance (IMP)

Research project
Inactive research
Project size
Project period
2015 - 2021
Project owner
The Department of Education and Special Education, University of Gothenburg

The Swedish Research Council

Short description

Consequences of individualized teaching for students' motivation in learning and achievements over 50 years - educational reforms and societal changes

About the project

The school's ability to adapt teaching to individuals has decreased over time and especially from the 1990s onwards. What consequences has this had for different groups of student’s motivations to learn and perform in school and in particular for those students who are traditionally described as "weak" or in need of special educational support?

Level grouping and segregating special educational support measures in compulsory school were removed as an organizational principle in the introduction of the new curriculum Lpo 94. Nevertheless, the division and special treatment of students in different groups has not only continued in many municipalities but also become more common since the early 1990s. 2009; Giota & Emanuelsson, 2011; see STOFF project). Both national and international studies show that the often individual-based and diagnosis-based categorization on which support measures outside the work of the regular class / group are based has consequences for the “special” students; most often negative (Emanuelsson, Persson & Rosenqvist, 2001).

A review of knowledge by the National Agency for Education (2009) points to the increasing use of level groupings and segregating support measures as a main reason for the declining student results and increasing differences in results between certain student groups in Sweden, which have been observed from the early 1990s onwards.

Another main reason that is pointed out is the increasing individualization in the sense of own work and changes in the design of teaching such as less teacher-led teaching and group work. Students with difficulties or in need of special support are said to have difficulty coping with the freer way of working that individual work constitutes and lose their motivation to learn. The consequence of changes in the design of teaching is that the support from home - and thus the parents 'level of education and cultural capital - has become more important for the individual student's performance in school, where the vulnerable students' vulnerability is accentuated.

In a research review written on behalf of the Swedish Research Council in collaboration with the National Agency for Education, Giota (2013) states that the guiding principle in teachers individualization work in the sense of individual adaptation is to create space for students' needs and curiosity. Nevertheless, the school fails to support the efforts of the weakest students in learning or to challenge the curiosity of the strongest students. The school's teaching seems to be adapted to the middle-achieving students' involvement in school work.

This is inconsistent with the whole idea of ​​individualization, as it is expressed in the various curricula and associated investigations, since the introduction of the unitary school - a school for all - in the 1960s.

The planned studies

The planned studies will be based on data collected within “The Gothenburg Educational Database” (GOLD) under the designation of which data from the Individual Statistics and the UGU project (Evaluation through follow-up) have been brought together (Svensson, ed., 2012). IS / UGU is a longitudinal project which since the beginning of the 1960s in collaboration with Statistics Sweden has carried out nine follow-up surveys in the school system starting in compulsory school year 3. Collected information is from students born 1948, 1953, 1967 and thereafter from every fifth cohort up to 1998 (about ten thousand students in each). For the last six cohorts, register data is also available, which will also be used.

Specific purposes

The specific purposes of the project are to:

  1. Study changes in teaching patterns and what consequences these have for different groups of student’s motivations in learning and achievements over time.
  2. Study changes in the scope and forms of special educational support and their consequences for students in need of special support and especially for "gifted students in the regular class".

Investigate the consequences of individualization and differentiation for different student groups under the age of 50 in relation to educational reforms and societal / market-related changes.

The research project STOFF

The research project STOFF

The Evaluation Through Follow-up (UGU)

The Evaluation Through Follow-up (UGU)

Project members

Joanna Giota, Professor of pedagogy, Project manager

Ingemar Emanuelsson, Professor Emeritus in Special Education

Daniel Bergh, senior lecturer