Thomas Nygren. Photo: Mikael Wallerstedt.2022-10-14
Award-winning pedagogy that challenges and motivates
Thomas Nygren, Professor of History and Civics Education at the Department of Education, is one of the winners of this year’s Distinguished Teaching Award.
Thomas Nygren was happy and surprised earlier this year to learn he was the recipient of the independent award on the theme “Critical approach in a polarised world”. The jury’s award citation noted, among other things, that Nygren “promotes factual dialogue and challenges resistance to facts” and “has driven the development of subject-based teaching and learning in the teacher education programme in a manner that is responsive and attentive to students.”
Nygren has been working as a teacher for many years and considers it a very important and demanding profession. In his work against resistance to facts, he starts out from both his own and others’ research.
“I usually give the students a mixture of exercises and current research and let them see how difficult it is to be critical of online sources,” he says. “This encourages reflection and fosters humility.”
He emphasises how rewarding it has been to develop the programme by adding more subject didactics.
“The students requested more content with direct relevance to their future work as teachers of civics,” says Nygren. “I think we have now succeeded in reshaping the programme in a way that combines current research on this with active and challenging instruction.”
Explaining and challenging
When asked what is special about his award-winning pedagogy, Thomas Nygren says that it isn’t really anything in particular, but that he focuses a lot on research into what is effective and beneficial in teaching. He also sees the dissemination of source criticism research as an important part of his educational work.
“I think that it’s important to explain difficult things in a way that everyone can understand,” he says, “while challenging students on a level that requires them to really exert themselves to understand. Perhaps the jury has also taken note of the fact that our research on source criticism has received widespread attention in Swedish schools. The digital exercises, tools and games that we have developed and tested in practice have been used by tens of thousands of students, making them better at detecting misleading information.”
Motivation to understand
Good teaching should be stimulating and challenging and demonstrably effective in terms of the students’ knowledge. Sometimes it does not work, but when it does, the teaching has sparked interest and motivated the students to work harder to understand.
“The important thing isn’t that the teaching is popular,” says Nygren. “The students must be challenged and learn new things. In the end, they’ll arrive at new insights,” he concludes. “That path to new insights differs from subject to subject, so it can vary a lot depending on the knowledge the teaching focuses on.”
Professor Thomas Nygren of the Department of Pedagogy, Didactics and Educational Studies was honoured with the 2022 free Distinguished Teaching Award on the theme “The critical approach in a polarised world”.
Rationale: When students meet Thomas Nygren, they meet an educator who promotes factual dialogue and challenges factual resistance based on the solid foundation of his own research on critical thinking and digital competence. He is capable of explaining the importance of a critical approach in an engaging, clear and educational way. Prospective teachers are well prepared by Thomas Nygren’s teaching to help future generations work in a polarised world with an ever-growing need for source-critical capabilities. Thomas Nygren has also driven the development of subject didactic features in the teacher programmes, with sensitivity towards the students.
- Information about the Distinguished Teaching Award in the Staff Portal
- Previous award winners
- Marie Allen works in the real world of CSI (news item 7 October 2022)
- Distinguished Teaching Award winner wants to see Aha! moments (news item 30 September 2022)
- 2022 pedagogy prizewinners nominated (news item 30 May 2022)