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.

Excellent PhD Thesis by Hanife Rexhepi

Some people are as magic as the sky in the photo for this blog post. These people are more brilliant than the rest of us, and it is a joy to discuss with them and learn from them. One such person is Hanife Rexhepi from Högskolan i Skövde. Not only is she knowledgeable and professional, but she is also a good team player and has great communication skills. I have worked with Hanife Rexhepi in many studies the last years as a part of the DOME consortium.  And I am looking forward to more collaborations in the future.

Next week Hanife Rexhepi will defend her excellent thesis that includes TWO papers awarded “Best paper” which says something about the quality of her work. I am really looking forward to listening to her presentation and to the discussion. I am sure that I will get lots of new ideas and insights! I will bring my iPad and take notes 🙂

Hanife Rexhepi has done research related to information systems in health care. The eight papers in the thesis are from her extensive work in the area, and are based on several research projects. Among other things her thesis contains an interesting study on cancer patients and their use of medical records online. This study has been presented on several occasions, one of which is found here. The study has also been widely discussed in media such as in this well written blog post by Christiane Gruenloh.  Hanife Rexhepi is also very active on Twitter and you find her Twitter account here

See you in Skövde at Hanife Rexhepi’s PhD defence on Tuesday the 22 of May 2018.

Participating in Panel Discussion about Software Engineering @ITiCSE 2018 on Cyprus

I have been invited to be a member of a panel on Software Engineering. The area to discuss is how the field has advanced and whether its education addresses the main problems and industry needs. I have several ideas of what to bring up at the workshop, and I haven’t really decided which one to choose yet. The ideas are:

  • Generellt software engineering at the university has too little focus on addressing wicked problems. There are far too many IT projects that fail.
  • Too little focus on professional competencies and the development of those.
  • Too little focus on user involvement and user needs.
  • We need to prepare students for working in an automateld software engineering profession. And we need to engage in the creation of this profession.
  • We need to see to it that computing becomes an inclusive profession and address the gender equality issue. Now!

I’ll write another blog post when I have decided which direction to go in… This will be fun!

Presented My Work With Student Activating Teaching Strategies at a Faculty Teaching Course

A few weeks ago I was invited to do a lecture at a mandatory faculty course organized for my colleagues, and for me. The course was organsied by TUR. 

At first I thought that I would talk about the IT in Society course which I have been teaching for 15 years. It is a great course, but I have presented our work with it several times, so instead I chose to describe the pedagogic underpinnings of the new course that I am teaching together with Diane Golay.

I started my presentation by describing that working wich complex IT systems in large organizations equals addressing a wicked problem. A wicked problem is defined like this in Wikipedia, and by Rittel and Webber (1973):

A wicked problem is a problem that is difficult or impossible to solve because of incomplete, contradictory, and changing requirements that are often difficult to recognize.

I then continued to present the many course elements that we have designed iteratively since October. The course has many different pedagogicak underpinnings related to student activating pedagogy:

  • Student contributing pedagogy, as defined by John Hamer
  • Roleplay when learning how to do interviews
  • Interview of a practitioner in the field
  • Flipped Classroom looking at instructional videos before lectures.
  • Peer review of another groups’ work
  • Self-flipped classroom producing learning materials for yourself and others.
  • Discussions based on the framework of constructive controversy
  • Informal learning support on Facebook
  • Home exam with a special section for those who aim for a higher grade.

NordWit Meeting and Attending a PhD course in Tampere

The NordWit team will meet in Tampere in April. We have a full calendar planned, and we are going to discuss the research done so far as well as plan forward. I am working on two eHealth interview studies that are connected to NordWit, and I have also started to look into career trajectories and role models as a part of the Centre work. The studies have a gender and sociotechnical perspective, which is interesting and new to me. I have lots of interesting people to collaborate with in my studies, and I am learning so much when discussing with them that it is amazing.

I will be staying in Tampere a few days after the NordWit meeting to attend a PhD course arranged by the NordWit team. The course is called Gender, Work and Transforming Organisations. Both Diane Golay and Gunilla Myreteg are taking the course with me, and we have started to look in to the quite extensive course material. I will attend the course as a student, or listener, and try to learn as much as I can in this new area. I really hope that I have time to read the papers before the course so that I can learn as much as possible from attending!

Submitted Application to Professor of Computer Science

Some time back I submitted an application for promotion to full professor of Computer Science at Uppsala University. It ended up being almost 60 pages of text, and I had worked with the applications for months. Submitting it was really energy consuming, much because there’s always a risk of failing when being evaluated. I have heard of many cases where people have very unexpectedly being assessed as not qualified. I also know that the process is gendered, and that women threat to be evaluated much harsher than men. Submitting this application was really a brave step for me. It felt like the jump made by the man in the blog post.

Being in academia really means being exposed to constant assessments, and evaluations of your work in different ways. I can get quite tired of this but I guess it is a part of the game. If you want to impact society and get funding for doing your research it is better to be a full professor than an associate professor.

The process is quite slow when you apply for promotion at Uppsala University. If I am lucky I will have the results from the evaluation before summer, but it is not unlikely that it is done in the fall. There are small steps on the way, though, and so far I have celebrated them all!

DOME meeting in Örebro

DOME is the name of the consortium that does research on Patient Accessible Electronic Health Records. We are a group of around ten active researcher coming from five different universities in Sweden. It is really a well functioning research consortium, and we meet every three weeks on Skype and once per semester in real life.

This semester we are meeting in Örebro two days. The first day will be dedicated to a forthcoming application for a reserach grant. It is Rose-Mharie Åhlfeldt who coordinates us in this work, and we have been given tasks in advance related to planning of the application. In the eventing we usually meet at a nice restaurant and have dinner together. Day two will mostly be dedicated to planning of the VITALIS and MIE events in April. We will have presentations together with INERA related to our latest studies, and we’ll spend some hours planning this event.