Children with high and exceptional learning potential

This research group focuses on adapted education for children with high and exceptional learning potential in pre-school, primary and lower secondary school.

In the Norwegian context, this is a relatively new area of research, although there are some important recent contributions to the field: some Master’s Theses and research conducted by Professor Ella Cosmovici Idsøe, Professor Emeritus Kjell Skogen, Associate Professor Emeritus Branca Lie and PhD-candidate Jørgen Smedsrud amongst others. Their research gives valuable insight into how to characterise, identify, and teach these children.


In 1994, the UN published the Salamanca declaration about children’s right to education, which was signed by many countries, including Norway. It states:


"The guiding principle that informs this framework is that schools should accommodate all children regardless of their physical, intellectual, social, emotional, linguistic or other conditions. This should include disabled and gifted children (…) and children from other disadvantaged or marginalized areas or groups." (p. 6)

Thus, the declaration recognizes gifted children as a group with special needs. This perspective has been virtually absent in the Norwegian school system and in 2016 the Official Norwegian Reports NOU 2016:14 More to Gain was published, claiming:

“schools have inadequate knowledge about the students who come under the mandate, and the instruction is only differentiated to a little degree to the needs and abilities of these students. This may be explained by the fact that these students receive little attention in teacher education institutions, and because there is a culture of insufficient knowledge about students with higher learning potential.” (p. 15)

With members from different subject disciplines, this research group aims at adding several perspectives to the body of knowledge:

  • Critical analysis of Norwegian educational policy about children with high and exceptional learning potential.
  • Research on attitudes towards these children, and their experiences.
  • Adapted education in different subject disciplines; the Natural Sciences, Mathematics, Religion Education, Social Studies, English and Norwegian. 

Members from NLA University College

Leader: Helga Bjørke Harnes, Assistant Professor in Social Studies
Inge Andersland, PhD-candidate in Religion Education
Lise Einarsen Haukås, Assistant Professor in Pedagogy
Gunnvi Sæle Jokstad, Assistant Professor in Pedagogy
Tone Helene Skattør, Assistant Professor in Norwegian
Alette Aasvold, Assistant Professor in the Natural Sciences
Karin Landschulze, Assistant Professor in Mathematics
Linnea Jermstad, Assistant Professor in Pedagogy (temporary leave 2017-18)

Members from other institutions

Line Torbjørnsen Hilt, Associate Professor in Pedagogy at the University of Bergen.

Miroslaw Wiacek. Assistant Professor in English didactics at the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences.

External experts

Tove Hagenes, Board member of Nasjonalt kompetansesenter for evnerike barn (National Resource Centre for Gifted Children).

Sieglinde Weyringer, Senior Lecturer ved Universitetet i Salzburg.