Tarja Alatalo

Tarja Alatalo

Associate Professor, Educational Work
Senior Lecturer Educational Work, Educational Work


I am an associate professor in Educational work at Dalarna University. I defended my PhD thesis on reading and writing didactics at Göteborg University in 2011. Since then I have worked at Dalarna University.

I work with the postgraduate education in educational work at Dalarna Univerity as a course leader and a teacher in two courses. I also supervise two PhD students in educational work.

Further, I am a member of the Doctoral Programme Committee for Educational Work within the research profile Education and Learning at Dalarna University. In connection with this, I have the responsibility for external doctoral education contacts.

I teach and lecture at the teacher- and preschool teacher education programs. I also supervise students in their thesis works at undergraduate and advanced level.

I am a scientific leader at two comprehensive national in-service training programs for early school years’ teachers, that are run by the National Agency for Education: Early reading instruction  and Early writing instruction.

Furthermore, I am the project manager of the design and testing of a nationally mandatory mapping material in linguistic awareness in preschool class Hitta språket (“Find the language”).


My research interests

My research interest is literacy instruction in pre-school, pre-school class and school.

In preschool, I do research about teachers’ perceptions of reading aloud as a tool for language stimulation, in preschool class, among other things, about how teachers identify students’ literacy development as well as what opportunities are given for language and literacy development in different subject areas. In the early grades in school, I study reading and writing instruction from several perspectives.

Furthermore, I do research in a project funded by the Swedish Research Council together with researchers at Dalarna University, Umeå University and Uppsala University. The research project focuses on reading in school and reading motivation among students in sixth and ninth grades. In another project, also funded by the Swedish Research Council, I study teacher qualifications in the subjects of Mathematics and Swedish in grades three and six in a longitudinal perspective, together with researchers at the University of Gothenburg.

In all projects, my research interest deals with issues of sustainable reading and writing instruction, which means, among other things, that the teacher needs to have subject content knowledge in order to have the opportunity to create instruction that promotes all students’ opportunities to develop a good reading ability. I study teaching based on didactic theory and analyze it based on cognitively oriented knowledge of how reading and writing abilities are developed, together with socio-cultural perspectives on learning.