Author Archives: Åsa Cajander

About Åsa Cajander

Researcher in the area of Human Computer Interaction with research interest in eHealth, User Centred Design and HCI Education.

Interviewed for ”Research Profile of the Month”

Being interviewed is always a learning experience, as you get questions that you seldom ask yourself. The interview for the “Research Profile of the Month at the Faculty of Science of Technology” took several hours (3?), and the questions were related to all my areas of research. The person who interviewed was really a good listener, and had planned the interview carefully.

For me the interview created lots of reflection, and I will make use of it while thinking about where I want to go in my work life. Perhaps I will take a few minutes and relax in the grass, as illustrated in this blog post picture, during summer holidays.

Some of the questions were:

  • Why have I chosen the research questions that I am studying?
  • What are my plans forward?
  • How is it to do research on areas that have no clear and simple answers?
  • How is it to combins family and research?
  • What is my strongest personality trait?

In the link below my research is presented at Uppsala University’s web page.,32&typ=artikel&lang=en

Reflections from Uppsala Health Summit ”Care for Cancer”

I will spend a few very good days at Uppsala Health summit with the theme “Care for Cancer”. If you ever have the chance to participate in one of these summits, I strongly recommend it.

What is Uppsala Health Summit? Uppsala Health Summit is a policy arena for dialogue addressing challenges for health and health care. I helped organize a workshop on use of technology for preventing childhood obesity a few years ago, and this time I am organizing a workshop on using existing data for diagnosing and treating cancer.

Who are participating? The people who are at the summit are personally invited decision makers, opinion formers and experts from around 35 countries in the world. The health summit is initiated by Uppsala University, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala County Council, Uppsala City Council and World Class Uppsala.

Sightseeing at the Scandion Clinic. Wednesday eventing we were invited to visit the Scandion clinic which is world class cancer clinic treating patients with proton therapy which makes it possible to treat cancer more efficiently and with fewer side effects. The building in itself ware really worth the visit, as it was designed with care and very appealing.

Before the visit it felt quite odd to do sightseeing in a cancer clinic, but it was really an inspiring experience. One of the reflections from visiting was that the nurses working there are actually doing a very technically oriented work with large computers. When I asked them about this they said that they have studied technical aspects of radiology as a part of their education to radiology nurses.

Christiane has written more about Uppsala Health Summit in this blog post if you want to know a bit more about our workshop on using existing data for treating and diagnosing cancer.

The Self-Flipped Classroom Concept: Underlying Ideas and Experiences – paper accepted for Frontiers in Education

Anna Vasilchenko, Mats Daniels and I had a paper accepted for Frontiers in Education very much based on Anna’s excellent work!!

The paper is a conceptual paper on self-flipped classrooms and we will continue working on research in the area in the fall. We will make use of experiences from the new course that I am teaching with Diane Golay.

Anna, Mats and I have also done one application for funding of this research and I really hope that we will get that!!

Here is the abstract:

In the modern fast changing world no formal education is able to provide learners with a complete set of knowledge, skills and competences that they would need to successfully compete on tomorrow’s job market. Therefore, the role of universities is increasingly shifting towards provision of an environment where students have a chance to acquire lifelong learning skills. This paper presents underlying ideas of, and practical experiences with, an innovative pedagogy that addresses the lifelong learning skills acquisition along with additional benefits for science and technology students. The proposed approach is called Self-Flipped Classroom (SFC) and it is built on a synergy of two pedagogies: learning through making (“self” part of the name) and Flipped Classroom (“flip” part of the name). To unveil the construct of the SFC concept, we discuss each of its components individually presenting appropriate theoretical grounding. We also report on our experiences from Self-Flipped Classroom implementations in two countries, CountryA and CountryB, and in three different educational settings. From our work with the SFC concept we have identified four different roles the students can assume in a SFC scenario: creators, collaborators, communicators, and learners. We present our observations regarding challenges and opportunities related to the identified roles that have been found in the studied settings. We also outline future research directions in this space.

Five Rejected Papers in 48 hours

Sometimes academia is not so great, and now and then I run into periods of lots of failure. Impostor syndrome doesn’t help either and hits me straight away when things are not going my way: “Do I really belong?”

This past week I got five papers rejected in 48 hours. Gah!! This was really tough! A personal record indeed. I thought that the papers were really OK, and some of them well written – but reviewers (completely) disagreed.

So far, I haven’t really had the energy to read the reviews either so I can’t really proudly say that I failed and learned lots of things through the failures. So far I have just failed and felt like a failure.


ACM SIGCHI EIT Health Summer School in Interactions Magazine

The current number of the magazine Interactions has an article about the EIT SIGCHI summer school that we organized last summer in Dublin and Uppsala/Stockholm.

I must say that the summer school gave me very good new contacts, and I have enjoyed following the research of many of the participants on Twitter since then. For me the summer school resulted in me being the examiner of several of the PhD thesis that has been put forward since last year, and also in Leysan Nurgalieva visiting us in Uppsala. Really great!!

You find the short article here

Submitted Programme Application

This week I submitted an application for funding of a research programme related to equal communiation using ICT for foreign-born people. The programme will include three complementary research areas and addresses an urgent societal problem. The three areas are caring sciences, computer science and health economics.

The writing process was really very much fun this time. I collaborated with a full professor of Caring Science, and we had a great time even though we don’t know each other that much. The full professor of Caring Science is the Principal Investigator of the application.

In the programme we will work with the exploration of communiation needs of foreign-bron people with chronical diseases, and then continue with implementation of ICT related support to improve communication. The programme will run for six years, if funded, and will include three PhD students and two post doc positions some of which are in caring sciences and others in computer science.

When writing applications for funding, chances are quite low that you get funded. However, if you don’t submit any applications there will for sure be no money….

I really hope that we get funding for this programme and that I can get the possibility to explore this area!!

Half-time Seminar by Anna Haufmann

Last week I was invited to discuss Anna Haufmann’s half-time seminar in Caring Science at Uppsala University. A half-way seminar at Uppsala University has the purpose of giving feedback and input on the work done, but more importantly on the plans forward. It is not an occasion with a formal examination. PhD education is a wildling road forward, and most of all this occasion is a possibility to get some input on possible ways forward.

Anna Haufmann did an interesting and professional presentation of her work so far. This work has included one published paper, and one paper that is in progress. The published paper describes the experiences from developing of an internet based intervention for adult cancer patients that are diagnosed with depression. The intervention was planned with patients and different health care professionals. I especially liked the fact that they had included patients in the design process, and that their team was multidisciplinary! The paper that has not been submitted yet shows great potential to be a very good journal publication, or even two journal publications. It is an interview study with rather open questions to patients related to their experiences from the intervention. I will not write more about it here due to the future review process, but the paper(s) will be worth reading 😃.

Anna Haufmann also presented the planned work ahead that includes two more journal publications. They will include studies on the effects of the intervention, and statistical methods will be used.

The seminar was very nice, and the other examiners were from very different dicsiplines. This made the discussions lively and also more interesting! Anna Haufmann acted very professionally, and I am confident that her PhD thesis will be an interesting read!

I hope that Anna Haufmann felt that she got good feedback, and that she also got the energy to write up the last parts of her PhD!

Awarded the Title Excellent Teacher !!

At Uppsala university faculty with a teaching position can be apply to be awarded the title Excellent Teacher. The title is also connected to a salary raise just as associate professor and full professor.

I applied a few years back, but was rejected, which I wrote about in this blog post  “Never Give up – Never Surrender”. I was very nervous whey I submitted the second time. It is not fun to fail!

This time I was called for an interview, which is one step on the way. I must say that the questions were very difficult to answer. Many of them were hade many layers of answers, and I had no idea if I would fail or pass after having done the interview.

However, this time I was assessed as having competence enough to be awarded the title and I celebrated with champagne Friday night!



Presenting Pedagogic Development Work at the National Network and Development Conference 2018

In October I will go to Västerås to participate in the NU2018 conference. This is a conference for faculty at universites and in higher education. The idea is to be inspired and learn from others while networking with peers. I have been to NU a few times, and it is really a nice and welcoming conference.

This time I will be presenting a pedagogic development project that Mats Daniels and I have run together with Nanna Kjellin Lagerqvist and Elin Parsjö who were students when the project was running. Below is a Google translated abstract:


Educational challenges related to the development of professional skills – Experience from an educational development project



In addition to cognitive and technical skills, a number of professional skills are required, such as communication skills, creative thinking, reflection skills and intercultural skills, in order to successfully participate in the increasingly global labor market. The overall purpose of our development project was therefore to develop a framework for supporting the development of professional skills in project courses. The framework that the project resulted in consists of three parts. The first part is a structure for working with learning agreements [1]. Part two consists of a method called the Archetype Learning Method [2] and the third part of the framework is a first version of an ICT tool [1] where resources for working with the development of professional skills have been gathered.

The methods within the framework have proven to be promising to convey what it means to develop professional skills. However, they are not a universal method of setting up a functioning educational environment to develop competencies, but the tool meets some resistance from the students. One contributing factor is that education for developing skills is a complex area, where factors such as the students’ identity and expectations of what is important to learn is recording. Examples of such attitudes and expectations are that factual knowledge and technical knowledge in programming, databases and networks are seen as more central. Our analysis is that there are factors beyond a single course, in the learning environment of the education program, which limits the possibilities for the effective use of learning agreements in the form we used in this project [3].

How, then, can a better education environment be created so that students can achieve the professional skills they meet according to the goals our education programs actually have? We have observed a discrepancy between the students’ aspirations and behaviors, which according to our studies include depends on the attitude mentioned above [3-4], as well as an ovana and inability to handle the transparency of this learning [5]. Ability to handle openness, including in terms of being able to handle open problems is an important aspect of mastery of professional skills, since the practice of limiting and closing openness causes complex problems to be reduced to, possibly complicated, but, simplified problems, where most essential skills for most professional skills are lost. I [5] presents a categorization of openness that can be used to systematically introduce development of the ability to handle open issues and thus pave the way for the development of other professional skills.

Another observation is that students are unfamiliar in learning that is not clearly measurable. The use of learning contracts is a step towards creating a better understanding of how learning of something as complex as competencies can be “measured”. However, there is a general mistrust of what is not perceived as the core of an education, that is, what can be termed pure subject knowledge [6]. Progression in dealing with open problems is an important component for the development of professional skills and thus a better ability to utilize subject knowledge in complex situations in a future working life. This progression needs to be better integrated into our education!


[1] Clear, T., Daniels, M., Cajander, Å., Parsjö, E., Lagerqvist, N., and McDermott, R. (2016) A Framework for Writing Personal Learning Agreements, ASEE / IEEE Frontiers in Education , Eire, USA.

[2] Pears, A., Daniels, M., and Cajander, Å. (2017) The Archetype Learning Method – Scaffolding Teamwork Competences in the Engineering Classroom, ASEE / IEEE Frontiers in Education, Indianapolis, USA.

[3] Cajander, A., Daniels, M., Golay, D., McDermott, R., Moll, J., Nylén, A., Pears, A., and Peters, A. (2017) Unexpected Student Behavior and Learning Opportunities – Using Critical Incident Analysis and a Model for Understanding Students’ Behavior, ASEE / IEEE Frontiers in Education, Indianapolis, USA.

[4] Nylén, A., Cajander, Å., Daniels, M., Pears, A., and McDermott, R. (2017) Why are we here? Student Perspectives on the Goal of STEM Higher Education, ASEE / IEEE Frontiers in Education, Indianapolis, USA.

[5] Nylén, A., Daniels, M., and Isomottonen, V. (2017) Open-ended Projects Opened Up – Aspects of Openness, ASEE / IEEE Frontiers in Education, Indianapolis, USA.

[6] Peters, A-K. (2017). Learning Computing at University: Participation and Identity: A Longitudinal Study. (Doctoral dissertation, Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis).

Experiences from Reviewing of Scientific Papers

I often review scientific papers for journals and conferences in computer science. Sometimes when I am asked to do a review I ask my PhD students if they would like to read the paper and discuss reviewing it with me. If they want to join we set a date for discussing the paper, and what to write in a review. The PhD students get course credits from doing these reviews, and I also get a good chance to improve my reviewing skills.

Sometimes the papers we read are very poor, and need very much more work. Those papers are the trickiest ones to review. Often I still write quite a detailed review explaining what can be improved by the paper. In these situations I imagine that the paper is written by a colleague that I really respect, and I am careful with my phrasing of the critique so that it is clear what I mean but put in a way that it sounds polite and nice.

However, once I got such a poor paper that I simply did not write more than:

The ideas in the paper are interesting, but the paper need much more work before it can be published.

One can wonder if this was the correct thing to do???

The paper lacked most parts of a readable paper and it was not possible to understand even what they aimed at doing. A review of such a paper would have meant writing a “How to write a scientific paper for dummies” review. The advise would have been on what to include in an introduction, how to write an abstract etc.

I recommend all seniors to do reviews with their PhD students. It is an interesting way of learning more about papers, and getting a common groups of the area you are doing research in.