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Researchers study health and learning in schools

Published: 22 December 2017

A good school climate, daily physical activity and trustful relationships between students and adults are a part of the Swedish National Agency for Education´s initiative for developing health promotion in schools. Researchers at Luleå University of Technology are involved in two of the research and development projects allocated funds.

The Swedish National Agency for Education allocates funds for developing health promotion in schools that will support municipalities and schools to promote the health of students and increase the achievement of goals. 48 of 198 applications have been awarded funding by the Swedish National Agency for Education. Researchers and teachers at the Department of Health Sciences and the Department of Arts, Communication and Education collaborate in projects with Övertorneå Municipality and Broskolan in Örnsköldsvik. The researchers from Luleå University of Technology are responsible for developing and studying health and learning.

Health and learning are connected

Övertorneå municipality has previously had the means to work with health promotion school development in one semester. Now they have been given additional funds to continue their work in the coming years, where they will build upon the experiences and insights they accumulated.

– Health and learning are connected and how we work with these two topics in an integrated way is both a challenge and opportunity. In the project, students, management and all professions involved in the school are involved, even politicians, which gives the project a breadth and great impact, says Catrine Kostenius, professor of Health Science at Luleå University of Technology and Flexit Researcher at Norrbotten Municipalities.

In the preceding and in the upcoming project in Övertorneå, Catrine Kostenius participates with Anitha Risberg, Ph.D. in Physiology, and Anna-Karin Lindqvist, Doctor of Physiotherapy, from the Department of Health Sciences and Lena Nyström, Research Educator from the Department of Art ,Communication and Education. Cooperation has also been initiated with researchers and business leaders at Norrbotten Municipalities.

In the studies conducted in previous projects, the results point to the need for a holistic perspective on health, focusing on physical, mental social and existential well-being, to provide a good foundation for student health and learning. An approach that enables participants to co-create has proved useful.

Activities for health and learning

During next year's project in Övertorneå, health promotion will be linked to existing topics. The focus will be on language developmental approaches, aesthetic expressions, physical activity and nature-orientation topics. Examples of activities to promote health and learning are daily pulse-raising activities, scheduling focusing on feeling good at school and practical use of appreciation's power in meeting with others.

– We will conduct studies in which students, school staff and management will tell their experiences and politicians will be talk about their role. The student health surveys and national tests will then be used in the future to see what the health-promoting work for health and learning is, says Catrine Kostenius.

One hour of physical activity

The Swedish National Agency for Education has also granted funds to the elementary school Broskolan in Örnsköldsvik, which with its 100 students will work with health promotion development in school. Anitha Risberg, Project Manager and Ph.D. in Physiology at Luleå University of Technology, has developed a model that is linked to the curriculum goals and focuses on physical activity, creativity, relationships and knowledge.

All professions in the school are involved and cooperate over the professional and subject boundaries to create at least one hour of physical activity for the students every day. For example, a climbing wall will be build outdoors where some classes will work with climbing and mathematics combined.

– It's a huge investment and confidence in the model. The Principal has made a decision that they will work this way in the long term and not just in the next six months, so it feels great, says Anitha Risberg.

Study the whole picture

During the project, five to seven studies will be conducted where, for example, the researchers will study children's views on school meals, if the combination of physical activity and mathematics increases the level of knowledge, the role of the school nurse and the environment of the educators.

– We will also study how the whole picture hopefully will change the school results, continues Anitha Risberg.

The efforts will also result in a book where everyone involved writes the content together. Even the children write their own chapter.

In this project, researchers Anna-Karin Lindqvist and Catrine Kostenius from Luleå University of Technology and Margareta Larsson, school nurse and researcher at Skövde University, work togehter.


Catrine Kostenius

Catrine Kostenius, Professor, of Health Science

Phone: +46 (0)920 493288
Organisation: Nursing, Division of Nursing and Medical Technology, Department of Health Sciences
Anitha Risberg

Anitha Risberg, Senior Lecturer

Phone: +46 (0)920 493849
Organisation: LTUMVO, Division of Health, Medicine and Rehabilitation, Department of Health Sciences
Anna-Karin Lindqvist

Anna-Karin Lindqvist, Senior Lecturer

Phone: +46 (0)920 493986
Organisation: Physiotherapy, Division of Health, Medicine and Rehabilitation, Department of Health Sciences