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Maria Andersson

Maria Andersson


My pedagogic carrier started during my PhD when I taught basic ethology for animal science students. I soon realized that what I, as a teacher, was trying to teach during for example a lecture, was something completely different from what went on during the student's learning process. I know that this experience made me interested in the concept of learning and how students learn best, and has since then been the very core of my own development.

My pedagogical vision starts in the scientific background! Pedagogic research and mainly the research about how students learn and what motivates people to learn is by far the most important knowledge to have, being a teacher within higher education. For example, today we know that learning is enhanced when students work in a safe and open environment where the aim is clear and as a teacher at the university I would like to clearly stress that you should be as updated in this area of learning, as you are in your own scientific field and there are studies showing the importance of that (Marsch & Hattie, 2002; Jenkins, 2005). When organize education we should use all the knowledge there is about how to boost the learning process within students. And today we know a lot!

My own experience within education:

  • Initiator and responsible for starting a new bachelor program at SLU in Ethology and Animal Welfare 2005. I was head responsible from the start, and was then program study director until 2009, and then again from 2014-2016.
  • Director of undergraduate studies at HMH from 2008 until 2014.
  • Member of the Education board at the faculty of veterinary medicine and animal science from 2006-2010. From 2014 again participating in the education board.
  • During 2007 I was responsible for planning four Master courses in the new Master program within Animal Science (Applied Animal Behaviour Science, Ethological Methods and Experimental Design and Anthrozoology).
  • During 2015 together with Jan Olofsson and others at SLU responsible for planning the three new programs in Uppsala.

Course organizer:

  • From 2005 (and regularly after that) course leader of the following courses in the Ethology and Animal Welfare bachelor program: Evolutionary biology, Ethology and anthrozooloy (2006-2011), Anthrozoology (2006-2011). During the 10 years that SLU have had the Ethology and animal welfare program, I have from time to time been course leading every course when there was a need for me to step in. As a program study director you are obliged to do so.
  • Examiner, seminar supervision and supervision within problem based learning groups in several courses in all education that the department is responsible for.
  • Regularly lecturing in animal behavior, anthrozoology and animal husbandry in the basic education within the veterinary education, animal nursing education, animal science students.


  1. Jenkins, A. 2005. Strategies for linking teaching and research. Academy Exchange. (2): 12-14.
  2. Marsh, H. W. & Hattie, J. 2002. The relation between research productivity and teaching effectiveness. The Journal of Higher Education. 73(5): 603-641.


My vision of future research is within the area of Anthrozoology. Anthrozoology is a relatively new field of research on human-animal interactions, but has during the recent years exploded internationally. My vision have ascended from years at the university, where the experience of lack of knowledge among people about animals, about how to handle animals, about how to care for animals has truly struck my mind. It is clear that the research about how humans and animals interact, and how that relation can be improved is needed, and the knowledge needs to be spread.

We are in the middle of a FORMAS project where the human and animal interactions are in the very center. The aim is to study factors affecting both Pig and human welfare during a very stessful event - loading and unloading at time of slaughter.We will investigate the effects of loading and unloading on pig welfare, human wellbeing and work effectiveness of different methods and strategies, and further more study if the influence of education and training of stockpersons has an impact on the effectiveness of loading and unloading. This is that kind of project I would like to work with more and to concentrate on in the future. This requires a multidisciplinary approach with collaboration with researchers from medicine, pedagogy or social sciences. In this project with researchers from Lund University at the Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

My next upcoming project is Learning at the Zoo. A project where we sent a FORMAS application this spring. This is a multidisciplinary project where researchers from a biology background at the SLU will work together with researchers from the department of pedagogics at Gothenburg University. The aim with this project is to improve animal welfare and increase the awareness among people concerning animal welfare, conservation, biodiversity and sustainable development by using the zoo as a learning platform tool. We want to improve the important role of zoos in educating people and creating awareness about animal welfare, conservation, biodiversity and sustainable development – there is a huge potential. To do that we need to assess how zoos fulfil the specific requirements in the Swedish animal welfare legislation and Species protection regulation, by performing a qualitative and systematic analysis of routines, performed activities, learning transfer and opportunities to develop knowledge and attitudes. With over 700 million visitors every year globally, zoos have a great opportunity to increase the public's knowledge of animals, nature and conservation. This project will focus on finding best practice and quality assessment strategies for zoos. Methods will be designed to assess the quality of activities performed in the zoo. Methods will facilitate the study of values, motivations, attitudes and behaviours that occur in social interactions.

My vision of future projects have one specific thing in common, and that is the approach of sustainability and environmental awareness. If we are to use animals for different purposes, we have to be clever to do that in an upright ethical and sustainable way, with respect for both animals and humans.


At the moment, I am working together with Jan Hultgren and Jenny Yngvesson at my own department, in the project on loading and unloading pigs. Paul Hemsworth from Australia and Inger Arvidsson Lund University are also involved in the project.

In the future project with Zoos and Learning we (Maria Andersson, Claes Anderson, Lisa Lundin, Daiana de Oliveira at own department) are working together with Anne Algers from Gothenburg University.

In the future project with Cats and Humans we (Maria Andersson and Elin Hirsch at own department) are working together with Hanna Sassner and Anna-Maria Palsdottir from SLU Alnarp and with Amanda Robinson Harvard University.


I was assistant supervisor for Elin Hirsch during her PhD project 2012-2016 about cat behavior and welfare.

At the moment, I am the assistant supervisor of Sofia Wilhelmssons PhD project about the welfare of both pigs and transporter at unloading at slaughter.