Sustainable design in kindergarten sector through 'Exploration and Pedagogical Innovation Laboratory' [EX-PED-LAB]

Project owner

Western Norway University of Applied Sciences

Project categories

Applied Research

Shared Cost Project

Basic Research

Educational Development

Project period

December 2021 - November 2025

Project summary

The EX-PED-LAB project responds to the call for scholarly knowledge to inform the design and delivery of collaborative and responsive pedagogical programmes that support innovation in

  • kindergartens
  • kindergarten teacher education
  • practice-oriented research in Norway.

Cross-sectorial teams

The EX-PED-LAB combines these into interdisciplinary research to facilitate new thinking and new knowledge that support a future-oriented kindergarten education system. The EX-PED-LAB is a research hub within which interdisciplinary teams across the sectors of early childhood education, research, practice, administration, teacher education and design can imagine, debate, research, innovate and generate new knowledge for the development of new practices for immediate transformation of the kindergarten sector.

The project addresses the UN’s SDG 4 on quality education and 17 on inclusive partnerships and pursues a two-fold goal: creation of scholarly knowledge and development of transformative evidence- and arts-based knowledge. This includes kindergarten governance, kindergarten teacher education and capacity building of the current and next generation of kindergarten-oriented researchers, realised by supporting and improving kindergartens’ work on quality improvement and developing new knowledge for and with the Early Childhood Education and Care sector. 

Novelty in co-creation

We anticipate that the EX-PED-LAB methodology will position actors in the ECEC sector to implement knowledge-based methodologies that strengthen practices, competences and capabilities through collaborative knowledge creation. The knowledge will be novel as it will not only build upon but also extend beyond action research, understood as a problem-solving methodology responding to practical problems identified solely by ECEC practitioners.


Primary and secondary objectives

Primary objectives

1. Generate scholarly knowledge about the workshop as a methodology for delivering sustainable programme innovations characterised by stakeholder collaboration.

2. Explore and test the WM from the perspective of new shared leadership roles, collective agency, sensitivity to diversity, local anchoring, transformative learning and changing practices.

Secondary objectives

1. Theorise exploration in the context of collaboration between stakeholders in the ECEC sector, including leaders, teachers, children, families, students and researchers.

2. Design and document environments for strengthening collaboration between kindergartens and families through the EX-PED-LAB methodology. 

3. Develop new, future-oriented, evidence-based practices; guidelines; a toolbox; and visual communication relevant for local kindergartens to meet national demands for transformative practices towards a more culturally, locally sensitive, engaged and child-responsive kindergarten.

Research Questions

Main research question

What are the success criteria, tensions and pitfalls for the EX-PED-LAB WM that lead to pedagogical innovation, knowledge creation and transformative learning by stakeholders?

Sub-Research questions

1. What themes and content are described in pedagogical innovations through the EX-PED-LAB?

2. What describes transformative and evidence-based practices when working to enhance conditions for a) collaboration with children and families, b) collaboration with designers, c) collaboration with teachers and children regarding movement, play and exploration and d) leadership and organisational learning through the EX-PED-LAB methodology?

3. What is the replicability potential of this methodological concept across Norwegian settings (kindergartens and kindergarten teacher education programmes)?


We will explore, further develop and test the EX-PED-LAB Workshop Methodology (WM) for use in collaborative research, kindergartens and kindergarten teacher education. We will further identify and refine the success criteria, tensions and pitfalls for the WM that lead to pedagogical innovation, knowledge creation and transformative learning by stakeholders. Multiple methods will be used to investigate this: audio recordings of workshops, questionnaires, focus group interviews and observations.