Laboratory for Teaching Practices (TePlab)

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The Laboratory for Teaching Practices (TePlab) is an internationally networked research environment in the field of didactics that grew out of the research environment SMED (Studies of Meaning-making in Educational Discourses).


TePlab is focused on the study and development of teaching practices in formal and non-formal educative settings. Its research addresses the practice of teaching in formal education (from preschool to higher education) as well as facilitating learning in non-formal contexts. It is aimed at opening-up the black box of what teachers/facilitators do – both in the preparation and in the actual performance of education activities – and what are the consequences thereof for students’/participants´ learning. As a laboratory, TePlab engages in empirical research as well as in co-creative collaboration with teachers.

TePlab mainly conducts subject didactic research as well as research on teaching practices in relation to often complex and controversial societal issues such as sustainable development, health, ‘socio-scientific issues’, etc. We also do research focusing on facilitation and learning in sustainability transitions and on co-production processes where teachers together with didactic researchers and content experts develop lesson plans and teaching materials.

We pay attention to multiple dimensions of formal and non-formal education (epistemological, political, ethical, practical, aesthetic and existential) and investigate teaching practices in relation to qualification, socialisation and person formation.


Leif Östman and Maarten Deleye

Key principles

TePlab’s research is driven by the following principles:

Theoretical depth: TePlab researchers engage in theoretical work by drawing on diverse theoretical and philosophical contributions and connecting them to the field of didactics. The research environment has a strong, historically grown pragmatist underpinning shared by many of its members, but is also open for different theoretical perspectives such as post-structuralism, phenomenology, etc. What characterises TePlabs work, is its efforts to develop theory, analytical models and analytical methods in view of empirical didactic research. TePlab collaborates with researchers from diverse fields such as philosophy, sociology, political sciences, etc.

Methodological rigour: TePlab researchers develop and implement methodologies for sophisticated empirical didactic research. The research environment has wide experience and expertise with creating and applying analytical models and methods for in situ studies, e.g. analysing classroom practices. Often, these methodologies are aimed to enable so-called ‘high-resolution’ analyses that allow us to open-up the black box of teaching and learning. A consistent concern is to make sure that our methodological approaches create openness for empirical surprises, thus ‘disciplining’ ourselves as researchers to think about what we see and avoiding the pitfall of only seeing what we (already) thought.

Empirical grounding: TePlab researchers engage in diverse domains of empirical research. We conduct research on teaching practices in compulsory education, higher education as well as on the practices of facilitators of learning in non-formal settings. The research environment does empirical research in diverse fields such as natural science didactics, social science didactics, practical-aesthetic subjects, environmental and sustainability education, education on antibiotic resistance, etc.

Crossing boundaries of theory and practice: TePlab researchers make research (that is) useful for practice. A first prerequisite for this is the Lab’s focus on the study of teaching practices, i.e. of what teachers or facilitators of non-formal learning do and how this affects what students or participants learn. Besides (and within) research projects on the study of teaching practices, TePlab strongly engages in co-creative collaboration between didactic researchers and teachers, e.g. through development projects, Lesson Design Workshops, Didactical Sandboxing, etc.

(International) networking: TePlab crosses boundaries: geographically, disciplinary, theoretically, etc. It is a research environment that gathers members from Uppsala University, Ghent University, Stockholm University, and Malmö University. TePlab is also strongly engaged in scientific collaborations in numerous projects and networks.


TePlab grew out of SMED (Studies of Meaning-making in Educational Discourses), an internationally established research environment in the field of didactics, led by professor Leif Östman. The research environment was established in 2003 as a collaboration between researchers at Uppsala University and Örebro University. The members of SMED Uppsala were researchers, postgraduates and doctoral students in the discipline of didactics, although collaborations did take place with researchers in other disciplines (e.g. sociology, psychology, philosophy and political science) at Uppsala University and other universities in Sweden and abroad. SMED developed a Pragmatist didactic research, taking inspiration from mainly William James and John Dewey, but also from the work of Wittgenstein, post-structuralism and socio-cultural perspective on learning.


TePlab organises monthly seminars on Tuesday afternoons, 13.15 – 15.00.

The seminars have different formats:

  • In writing seminars, we discuss a paper (in progress) authored by a member of TePlab. The author briefly introduces the text and can raise topics for feedback. Every writing seminar has an appointed discussant who initiates the discussion.
  • In reading seminars, we discuss a non-TePlab text. The person who proposed the text briefly introduces it and lead the discussion.
  • Data sessions have an empirical focus. A participant shares empirical data and preliminary analyses to be discussed by TePlab members.

Group members

Research leader: Leif Östman, Maarten Deleye
Group members: Alexander Deveux (Ghent University), Maarten Deleye, Leif Östman, Ann-Kathrin Schlieszus (Heidelberg University), Azra Ates, Charlotte Ponzelar, Elisabet Jagell, Ellen Vandenplas (Ghent University), Eva Lundqvist, Frederik De Roeck (Ghent University), Hanna Hofverberg (Malmö University), Iann Lundegård (Stockholm University), Joacim Andersson (Malmö University), Jonas Risberg, Juliane Höhle (Ghent University), Karin Nordh, Karin Rudsberg (Örebro University), Katrien Van Poeck (Ghent University), Kristina von Hausswolff, Lennart Rolandsson, Lolita Gelinder, Malena Lidar, Malin Olsson, Mario Gaitan (Ghent University), Michael Håkansson (Stockholm University), Nadine Deutzkens (Ghent University), Pernilla Andersson (Stockholm University), Stefan Bengtsson