Background and activities

During the last decades, the Norwegian teacher education has been placed under increasing media and political pressure, and has been subject to frequent reforms. Political interventions into the school system are based on assumptions of what problems school systems’ face, and how to improve their overall quality.

Smeplass' thesis addresses two research questions. Firstly, how central actors perceive problems and solutions in the teacher education and its institutional environment. Secondly, it asks how teachers’ capabilities are appreciated and valued inside and outside the school sector.

A focus on formal organisation and on how things ideally should be tends to disregard the challenges faced by teachers and other actors within the teacher education. The analysis shows how central actors decouple their practices and understandings from the official framework, challenging official definitions of problems with their own conceptions. While the teachers’ educators seek legitimacy through local implementation of the official framework, students are subject to contradictory expectations. Many have chosen a teacher career based on an interest for children’s wellbeing in schools. Their pedagogical competences and interests are taken for granted, and it is up to them to bridge the gap between an increasing academic focus in the education and other practical challenges in the profession. Teachers’ competencies are appreciated both within and outside the school context. The fact that educated teachers often pursue other careers shows how the education rather qualifies for other sectors, opening for a more nuanced view on dropout.

There is an extensive number of students leaving the education, as well as teachers leaving the profession after a few years. Several political measures are taken to improve the quality of the education and to recruit more teachers to the profession, based on assumptions of organizational insufficiency. The political interest in dropout from the teacher education and the teaching profession is premised on the idea of a crisis in the educational and school system. The results in this dissertation suggest that this is a highly problematic conclusion. The credentials acquired in the teacher education is also in demand outside of the school system, demonstrating a public trust of the broader repertoire of skills associated with teachers.

The study is based on thematic analysis of documents, focus group interviews, in-depth-interviews and questionnaires. By comparing the narratives of different actors such as teacher students, teacher educators, educational supervisors, bureaucrats and teachers outside the school sector, the study challenges the widespread notion of a teacher education in crisis.

Scientific, academic and artistic work

Displaying a selection of activities. See all publications in the database





  • Røkkum, Nina Helen Aas; Smeplass, Eli; Tjora, Aksel. (2016) En undersøkelse av begrepet "science capital" og dets relevans for norsk kontekst. På oppdrag fra Nasjonalt senter for realfagsrekruttering. 2016.
  • Røkkum, Nina Helen Aas; Smeplass, Eli; Tjora, Aksel. (2016) En vurdering av begrepet "science capital" og dets relevans i norsk kontekst. 2016.


  • Smeplass, Eli. (2015) Bytter pugging med flashmob. [Fagblad]. 2015-11-24.
  • Smeplass, Eli. (2015) Lærerliv i teori og praksis - En studie av sammenheng og løse koblinger mellom lærerutdanning og skolen. Sosiologifestivalen 2015 . Trøndersosiologene; Dokkhuset, Trondheim. 2015-09-03 - 2015-09-03.


  • Levang, Lisbeth Elvira; Skaar, Marianne; Smeplass, Eli; Torp, Thomas; Tjora, Aksel. (2014) Evaluering av Trondheim kommunes kulturfond. 2014.