Pedagogics and Special Needs (the PS-group)

The PS-group is a research group at the Department of Education at Uppsala University. The group frequently publish in international journals and is one of the leading research environments in Europe in research about inclusive educating and the work of special educational staff. In addition, research is carried out in several other research areas (see below for each members personal presentation).

The research area Pedagogics and Special Needs focus difficulties that emerge in education in different historical, social and cultural settings where teaching, learning and socialisation takes place.  Contexts for empirical studies are the whole educational system from preschool to higher education but also work life and informal settings.

Reseach leader

Claes Nilholm


Lizbeth EngströmPetra GäreskogAnna JohanssonNina KlangGunilla LindqvistGunnlaugur MagnússonNiklas NorénIngrid OlssonDavid PaulsrudSara PerssonMathilda Tassinari RogalinCaroline Snäckerström SimsJohanna Svahn

See presentations below.


The PS-group runs a seminar. At the seminar research about inclusive and special education is presented, discussed and analysed. The relations between special education and areas such as pedagogics, didactics and educational sociology are also focused. Special attention is given to the implications of research with regard to the work of teachers and special needs educators. PS is used in letters in order to make an addition, Post Scriptum, which is made after the letter is written and signed. Often such PS contains important information that can change the interpretation of the whole letter. We regard it as a demanding yet suitable metaphor for our work at the seminar.

For information about our seminars please contact Claes Nilholm


Researchers are part of several networks, e.g. with the University of Agder in Norway and with the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. Recently Niklas Norén together with researchers from Finland and Holland received a grant for developing a network of researchers studying communicative disabilities.

Research network on the role of companions in institutional talk involving persons with communicative vulnerabilities

Some people need help to communicate with others. This may be due to challenges of various kinds, physical as well as cognitive. To some extent, one might claim that some people are communicatively “vulnerable”, since they do not have access to the same amount of communicative resources as the majority of the population. Assistance may be needed when they go to the doctors, or in school, or in other official places. In such situations, they can bring a companion who will help them understand what is going on, and help them express themselves about their needs and wishes. But as yet, there is little knowledge about what those companions do, and existing knowledge is fragmented. In order to shed further light on this important issue, we propose a network that will bring together academic researchers from three European countries who have specialized in studying interaction involving people who are communicatively vulnerable and their companions, and pool this knowledge. The network will produce a systematic account of the extant research and work towards a larger, funded project to ask: what practices help communicatively vulnerable people reach their goals? Are some practices the same across different groups (is supporting someone with dementia, for example, the same as supporting someone with intellectual disabilities)? How can we help companions, and the persons they support, to work more efficiently with doctors, welfare officials, teachers and other professionals?

Interaction with Society

Several resesearchers in the PS-group is involved in cooperation/interaction in different forms with different parts of the society, mainly the school system. Gunilla Lindqvist has e.g. recently been responsible for a research circle focusing inclusion. Claes Nilholm has a blog where central themes in educational and special needs are analyzed and discussed.

Lizbeth Engström

Lizbeth is a lecturer in pedagogy with interest in social practices, health care, medical and educational practices. She is currently working in projects together with SVA of new communication models on hygiene and infection control practices in activities where children and teenagers who hang out in close interaction with animals, mainly in 4H-farms. Participates since 2014 in a comprehensive inclusion project in a municipality.

Petra Gäreskog

Petra is licentiate in Education with a specialization in special Education. Her interests focus on issues related to preschool.

Anna Johansson

Anna has a master in special needs education and is now licentiand in pedagogy, with focus on in special needs education. Annas recent research is about newly arrived pupils and special needs education. She also has other research interests, for example, education of pupils with neuropsychiatric disabilities and inclusion and participation for all children in the school environment.

Nina Klang

Nina is a senior lecturer in Special Needs Education. Her research centers on instruction for students with disabilities and support for students’ learning and communication.  For instance, she has studied IEP goals for students with complex communication needs and teacher strategies in classroom talk in special schools for students with an intellectual disability.

Gunilla Lindqvist

Gunilla is associate Professor in Education and Senior Lecturer in education, specialising in special education. She conducts research in preschool, primary school and special needs school. Gunilla´s research focus is especially directed towards occupational groups’ views on special needs, mostly related to the concept of inclusion.

Gunnlaugur Magnússon

Gunnlaugur is a Senior Lecturer in Curriculum Studies. He has a specifik interest in education reforms, special education and inclusive education as expressions of discourses emanating from educational politics and philosophies. His prior research regards the Swedish independent compulsory schools' organisation of special support.

Claes Nilholm

Claes is a Professor of education with a focus on special needs education. He has a broad interest in issues relating to inclusive and special education. He has been especially interested in theoretical issues and empirical mappings of views on special needs education.

Niklas Norén

Niklas is a Senior Lecturer in Curriculum Studies with a specialisation in Swedish. His research orients towards the social inclusion of children in everyday and educational activities. He is especially interested in the development of language, communication and learning of children with severe motor and/or intellectual disabilities. Another area of interest is Interactional linguistics.

Ingrid Olsson

Ingrid is a senior lecturer in education. Her research is about issues such as pre-school and school education, children with neuropsychiatric disabilities, implementation, interaction between educators and other groups, children’s participation, social support, and educational leadership.

David Paulsrud

David är doktorand i pedagogik med inriktning mot specialpedagogik. Han är intresserad av frågor som rör utbildningspolicy och skolans professioner.  

Sara Persson

Sara is a PhD student in Education with focus on Special Education. Her research is about problematic school absenteeism, truancy and school refusal.

Caroline Snäckerström Sims

Caroline är doktorand i pedagogik under Claes Nilholms handledarskap. Hennes forskningsfokus är inriktat på undervisning för särskilt begåvade elever. En del av grundfrågorna i hennes forskning handlar om vilka typer av undervisning som fångar upp och utmanar även dessa elever och hur olika internationella undervisningslösningar kan anpassas till det svenska undervisningssystemet och svensk utbildningstradition. Hennes syfte är även att kartlägga delar av den undervisning som redan pågår i Sverige inriktad mot den aktuella elevgruppen. 

Johanna Svahn

Johanna is a Postdoctoral Fellow in education with a specialized focus on inclusion. Her research interests cover children’s identity –and socialization processes, and addresses issues of bullying, conflict and school-based intervention work.

Mathilda Tassinari Rogalin

Mathilda är doktorand i pedagogik. Hennes intresse riktar sig mot frågor som rör neuropsykiatriska diagnoser i skola och förskola.