Special needs education and speech therapy research group

The special needs education and speech therapy research group is a research community with a particular focus on various subjects within the fields of pedagogy, special needs education, speech therapy and linguistics. It aims to strengthen and develop individual and institutional expertise.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The research group is a part of the research division 
Speech therapy, adapted education and special needs education.

The special needs education and speech therapy research group was established 10 years ago and its number of members has since grown. Members of the group can be found at several of Nord University’s campuses, but most members are located at the Bodø campus. In addition, the group has several associated members from various European universities. 

The group is interested in recruiting more members and in strengthening and further developing their national and international research network. 
The research group includes both academic staff and PhD students. Currently, we have a PhD student who is researching work with/for adults who have developed aphasia as the result of having a stroke, as presented by aphasia speech therapists, in published guidelines and by people who themselves live with aphasia. In addition, we have another person who is researching play equipment in kindergartens. Through activities such as seminars and workshops, the group’s objective is to publish their findings in national and international scientific journals, anthologies and conferences.

The main objective of the group’s research efforts is to contribute to the development of practical and research-based knowledge that can help to create an inclusive society, and facilitate good learning and upbringing conditions for children, young people and adults with special needs.

The group’s members are working on various national and international projects focusing on different subjects within the fields of pedagogy, special needs education and speech therapy, and are part of several ongoing projects. All members are actively involved in publishing and dissemination activities at international and national levels. The group members participate and plan in the preparation of several applications seeking to receive announced research funding both nationally and internationally.

Active Research Projects

Dialogues between Northern and Eastern Europe on the Development of Inclusion Theoretical and Practical Perspectives

Work in progress.
The anthology provides new insights into inclusion and inclusive education for children with special educational needs (SEN ) in the very different contexts of Northern and Eastern Europe.  The anthology has been inspired by, and prepared as a result of, collaboration between Northern and Eastern European researchers, and it intends to bring together academic input from researchers working on a wide array of issues related to educational research and practices for children with SEN. 

Cooperation between universities from 10 countries.

Dyslexia-friendly schools 

Pupils don’t just have learning difficulties in Norwegian lessons or in small groups. They have learning difficulties in all subjects throughout the whole day. At home and at school. Therefore, it is important that all teachers have knowledge about dyslexia, dyscalculia and specific language difficulties (SLD), and know what is best for each pupil. Dyslexia-friendly schools are characterised by having good systems that identify and follow-up on all pupils that experience difficulties. 

The project is in its initial phase and is in collaboration with Dyslexia Norway. 

Opportunities - Anthology Of Art And Special Needs Education

Work in progress.
An anthology that aims to draw attention to aesthetic subjects, art, culture and inclusion in relation to children and young people requiring special adaptation, throughout the whole course of their schooling, in cultural schools and in other relevant arenas. The book aims to contribute to increasing skills within the field and presents examples of good practice and research-based knowledge through scientific and academic articles. 

Book titled "Special Education in the Early Years. Perspectives on Policy and Practice in Nordic Countries"

Work in progress.
Book has been accepted to be published by Springer. The book will be proposed to the early childhood education series for the publishing house Springer and published late 2020. This book brings together leading ECEC academics from across the Nordic countries to explore questions around special education across multiple chapters, highlighting perspectives on policy and practice as well as shared enablers and barriers.

Focus on special needs education in kindergarten teacher education 

In the last few decades, there has been an ongoing focus on the importance of quality of special educational needs (SEN) assistance in kindergarten. The literature indicates that high-quality standards for SEN assistance can significantly benefit children’s learning, self-esteem and attitudes towards lifelong learning (Hanssen, 2019).  Nevertheless, in Norway, the lack of qualified professionals appears to be one of the greatest challenges to the kindergarten sector. This primarily means that kindergarten staff do not seem to have adequate SEN competence, to give children an appropriate SEN assistance.  

Several studies indicate that there is a connection between the quality of kindergarten teacher education and the SEN competence of the staff. Those studies have also stressed the need for deepen knowledge about how the content of kindergarten teacher education may generate the quality of SEN assistance in kindergarten ( Hannås, 2018; Hanssen, 2019; Olsen, 2019;  Nordahl, 2018).     

The current project explore the extent special needs education subjects in Kindergarten Teacher Education.

Development of further education

Special Needs Education 2 provides specialisation in classes and groups, where pupils with major socio-emotional difficulties are included. The study programme caters to primary school teachers and PGCE students with the goal of developing classroom management through adapted education. This includes the inclusion of pupils with socio-emotional difficulties. Another aim is to enable students with good academic and social prerequisites to develop as beneficial role models for their peers, in close connection with their teacher as a class leader.

Development of the international programme of study Inclusion and diversity in Norwegian schools, commencing 2021

Development of the international programme of study Inclusion and diversity in Norwegian schools, commencing 2021. 


The consensus study CATALISE (Criteria And Terminology Applied To Language Impairments: Synthesising the Evidence) was carried out in several English-speaking countries between 2014 and 2016. Its purpose was for the participants to agree on common terminology and a common set of criteria regarding language difficulties, to be used in practice and in the field of research. 
The programme of study was carried out as a Delphi consensus process.  

CATALISE Norway is an equivalent Norwegian study that was initiated by Norsk logopedlag (Norwegian interest group for speech and language therapists). It now includes members from Norsk logopedlag, Nord University/Frambu, Statped, the University of Oslo and the University of Bergen. The project is organisationally located at Nord University. Data collection will take place during 2020.

The Collaboration of Aphasia Trialists

Karianne Berg and Line Haaland-Johansen are part of a large, active international research network called The Collaboration of Aphasia Trialists.

Closed Projects

Conference Opportunities. Experience, mastery and inclusion

The conference Opportunities. Experience, mastery and inclusion, Bodø 8 - 9 April, 2019. 

The conference Opportunities draws attention to aesthetic subjects, art, culture and inclusion in relation to children and young people requiring special adaptation, throughout the whole course of their schooling, in cultural schools and in other relevant arenas. The conference aims to contribute to increasing skills within the field and presents examples of good practice and research-based knowledge through lectures, parallel sessions and workshops. Public health and life skills is one of the interdisciplinary topics that is part of the ongoing renewal of subjects, and the conference is an important contribution to this.

Erasmus+ Mobility

Erasmus+ Mobility  with University College of Teacher Education Vienna

PhD Projects


Research fellow: Line Haaland-Johansen

Line Haaland-Johansen is employed as a research fellow in professional practice and speech and language therapy, at the Faculty of Education and Arts.
Aphasia affects a person’s abilty to produce and understand oral and written language, due to an acquired damage to the brain, most often a stroke. From three different perspectives (evidence-based clinical guidelines, practitioners’ (speech and language therapists’) views, and the views of persons themselves living with aphasia), the project explores how aphasia is described and how aphasia therapy takes place or is performed. The aim of the project is to seek to understand and articulate relevant ingredients in speech and language therapists’ (co-)work with persons with aphasia. As such, the project might also inform or maybe nuance a current, more general research dialogue on evidence-based practice.

Play equipment in kindergartens

Research fellow: Tone Rove Nilsen 
Affiliated with GoBaN (Good kindergartens for children in Norway), which is Norway’s largest research project within the field of kindergarten education.  

Tone Rove Nilsen is an Industrial PhD student at the Norwegian Knowledge Center for Kindergartens. Her PhD is a collaboration with Science of Professions at Nord University in Bodø. 

Tone is researching the physical indoor environment of Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC). The main focus is on teacher's beliefs and practices with play materials regarding children`s play, learning and development. The current study is a part of the broader research project called Better Provision for Norway's Children (BePro/GoBaN). 

Emotional violence

Research fellow: Sigrid Ness

Sigrid Ness is a phd.candidate at the Faculty of Education and Arts at Nord University in Levanger, Norway. 

The PhD project is focusing on the understanding of the phenomenon “emotional violence”. The project has a qualitative design with an collaborative methodology, trying to understand the phenomenon from several perspetives; literature, written documents in child welfare services and interviews with professionals and youth with lived-experience with emotional violence. 


 Reserach Group Leader


External Research Group Members: 

Jan-Birger Johansen
Gisle Johnsen
Vera Khitruk
Svetlana Gajdukevich
Martynchuk Olena 
Natalia Sofiy
Skrypnyk Tetiana
Babich Natallia 
Tichina Ekaterina
Stefanija Alisauskiene
​Mariya Riekkinen​