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  • Funderud, Tonje; Mononen, Riikka; Radišić , Jelena; Laine, Anu (2019)
    The study aimed to investigate variations in addition and subtraction fluency by observing grade three students in Norway (n = 253, M-age = 8.38 y.) and Finland (n = 209, M-age = 9.35 y.) while controlling for their age and non-verbal reasoning. Gender differences were also examined. The focus of the study was on the performance of the low-achieving (LA) students in comparison to the typically achieving (TA) group, not neglecting differences in how early educational support was organised across the two countries. Two-minute speed tests in both addition and subtraction within the 1-20 number range were used to assess fluency. The Finnish students outperformed students in the Norwegian sample both in addition and subtraction fluency. There were more Norwegian students in the LA group (i.e. performance at or below the 25th percentile) in both addition (37.9% vs. 20.1%) and subtraction (39.1% vs. 15.8%). In comparison to the TA students, the LA students made more errors and skipped over more arithmetic tasks in an attempt to solve them. Observed differences are discussed in relation to both country characteristics concerning early mathematics education and early educational support.
  • Holm, Marja E.; Aunio, Pirjo; Björn, Piia M.; Klenberg, Liisa; Korhonen, Johan; Hannula, Markku S. (2018)
    This study investigates behavioral executive functions (EFs) in the mathematics classroom context among adolescents with different mathematics performance levels. The EF problems were assessed by teachers using a behavioral rating inventory. Using cutoff scores on a standardized mathematics assessment, groups with mathematics difficulties (MD; n = 124), low mathematics performance (LA; n = 140), and average or higher scores (AC; n = 355) were identified. Results showed that the MD group had more problems with distractibility, directing attention, shifting attention, initiative, execution of action, planning, and evaluation than the LA group, whereas the differences in hyperactivity, impulsivity, and sustaining attention were not significant. Compared to the AC group, the MD group showed more problems with all behavioral EFs except hyperactivity and impulsivity, while the LA group showed more problems only with shifting attention. Male adolescents showed more behavioral EF problems than female adolescents, but this gender difference was negligible within the MD group. The practical implications of the results are discussed.
  • Törmänen, Minna; Roebers, Claudia M. (2018)
    This longitudinal study investigates the differences in cognitive and socio-emotional development and academic achievement between children educated in special education classes (N = 37) and regular classes (N = 37). The study is retrospective. The first measurement point was while children were attending play-oriented kindergarten and no decision about their education had yet been made. The second measurement point followed after 2 years of schooling. Comparing carefully matched groups, no differences in executive functions (EFs) were found before beginning school. Children assigned to special education had poorer language, fine motor skills and a lower pre-academic self-concept, self-regulatory skills and social integration. Notably, every fourth child in special education was an immigrant, 9% of whom later attended regular classes. After 2 years of schooling in either setting, the groups differed significantly in academic achievement, EFs, fine motor skills and cognitive self-regulatory skills. However, it was not - as school officials had intended - that children in special education classes had caught up, except in regard to their academic self-concept and social integration.
  • Palmgren, Marina; Pyhältö, Kirsi; Pietarinen, Janne; Sullanmaa, Jenni; Soini, Tiina (2021)
    The aim of the study was to enhance understanding of how seventh graders vary in emotional engagement and experienced well-being at school in terms of anxiety and cynicism. The two profiles were explored, and comparisons were made between students in general education and those in special education. The study participants comprised 119 Finland-Swedish students from five secondary schools. Four emotional-engagement and well-being profiles were identified based on cluster analysis. The students with the most typical profile were moderately engaged in teacher-student interaction and emotionally highly engaged in peer interaction, combined with a low risk of anxiety and cynicism. The profiles showed no statistically significant differences regarding gender and school achievement. However, there were differences between students in special education and those in general education. In Finland, Swedish -speaking Finns are a language minority group. Swedish has official language status in Finland. Compared to many other language minority groups they can be considered somewhat exceptional, since according to many welfare indicators they tend to do better than the general population. There are a few studies on differences between Swedish and Finnish- speaking students' school experiences in Finland, however, so far studies exploring Swedish- speaking general and special education students' emotional engagement and study well-being in terms of anxiety and cynicism have been scarce.
  • Holm, Marja Eliisa; Hannula, Markku Sakari; Björn, Piia Maria (2017)
    This study examined the relation of mathematics performance and gender with seven mathematics-related emotions (enjoyment, pride, anger, anxiety, shame, hopelessness and boredom) among adolescents. Using strict and lenient mathematics performance cut-off scores, respective groups of adolescents with mathematics difficulties (MD, n=136), low (LA, n=166) and typical mathematics performance (TA, n=1056) were identified. Our results revealed that the MD group reported more shame than the LA group. The MD group also reported more negative emotions and less positive emotions than the TA group, with the exception of boredom, for which there was no statistically significant difference. The interaction effect between mathematics performance group and gender on emotions was significant. Only females with MD showed significantly higher levels of hopelessness and shame than females with LA, while males with LA even reported more boredom than males with MD. Concerning gender differences, males reported slightly more pride and enjoyment than females. However, the direction and magnitude of the gender differences showed great variance among mathematics performance groups. The practical implications of the results are discussed.
  • Alanko, Outi; Niemi, Pekka; Munck, Petriina; Matomäki, Jaakko; Turunen, Tiina; Nurmi, Jari-Erik; Lehtonen, Liisa; Haataja, Leena; Rautava, Päivi (2017)
    Reading and math skills of preterm born (birth weight 1500 g or gestational age:532 weeks) children and full term (FT) children were compared during the first weeks of grade 1. The participants were 194 preterm born and 175 FT children born between 2001 and 2006. There were more precocious readers among FT than among preterm students, but even the latter performed close to the national norm. FT and preterm group differences among non-readers were minor with only rapid naming showing a robust difference. Math performance showed a stable difference in favor of FT students and the difference was sustained in the full-scale IQcontrol. Major brain pathology increased the likelihood of poor scholastic skills, but lower birth weight relative to gestational age did not. Somewhat surprisingly, maternal education was not associated with school readiness skills. (C) 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
  • Sauna-Aho, Oili; Bjelogrlic-Laakso, Nina; Siren, Auli; Arvio, Maria (2018)
    BackgroundIntellectual disability (ID) and dementia reflect disturbed cortical function during and after developmental age, respectively. Due to the wide heterogeneity of ID population the decline in cognitive and adaptive skills may be different in distinct genetic subgroups. MethodsUsing the British Present Psychiatric State-learning Disabilities assessment (PPS-LD) questionnaire the dementia signs were screened in 62, 22 and 44 individuals (> 35year of age) with Down (DS, OMIM number 190685), Williams (WS, OMIM number, 194050), and Fragile X syndrome (FXS, OMIM number 309550), respectively. The median age of those with FXS (59years) was higher than of those with DS (50years) and WS (53years). ResultsMost study participants with DS (80%) and FXS (89%) were or had been moderately or severely intellectually disabled while most participants with WS (73%) were or had been mildly or moderately disabled at adolescent age. The adolescent (premorbid) level of ID did not correlate with the dementia score. The median scores were 11/27, 1/27, and 0/27 in DS, WS, and FXS subgroups, respectively. Dementia that was confirmed by brain imaging, manifested as Alzheimer disease and as moya-moya disease associated vascular dementia in DS and as vascular dementia in WS. ConclusionsThis survey suggests that the risk of dementia varies depending on the cause of ID and that the severity of ID in adolescence does not predict the development of dementia at a later age. Consequently, the ID and dementia should be understood as separate clinical entities that need to be taken into account in the health management of intellectually disabled people. This is important for the arrangement of appropriate and timely interventions, which can be expected to delay the need for institutionalization.
  • Arrhenius, Bianca; Gyllenberg, David; Chudal, Roshan; Lehti, Venla; Sucksdorff, Minna; Sourander, Ona; Virtanen, Juha-Pekka; Torsti, Jutta; Sourander, Andre (2018)
    Background: Broadly defined learning and coordination disorders (LCDs) are common in the population and have previously been associated with familial social risk factors and male sex. However, comprehensive nationwide studies of these risk factors in LCD subgroups are lacking. Our objective was to assess different LCDs in relation to sex and maternal education, marital status and socioeconomic status based on occupation. Methods: We conducted a nationwide register-based study. The following diagnoses were identified from the Finnish Hospital Discharge Register (FHDR) according to the ICD-10 (n = 28,192): speech disorders (F80), scholastic disorders (F81), motor and coordination disorders (F82) and mixed developmental disorder (F83). To study cumulative incidence and male: female ratios of service use of LCDs, we used a cohort design among all Finnish children born singleton 1996-2007 (n = 690,654); to study social risk factors, we used a nested case-control design with extensive register data on both cases and matched controls (n = 106,616). Results: The cumulative incidence was 4.7% for any LCD by age 15 and the changes in cumulative incidence over time were minor. The male: female ratios were 2.2-3.0 across LCD subgroups. Learning and coordination disorders were more common in households with lower maternal education, socioeconomic status based on occupation and among children with single mothers at the time of birth; the odds ratios (OR) for any LCD were 1.2-1.9 across risk factors. The odds for LCD diagnosis increased linearly with the number of social risk factors, except for coordination disorder. The effect size of three risk factors was highest in the group with mixed or multiple LCDs; OR 3.76 (95% CI 3.31-4.28). Conclusions: Multiple social risk factors increase the odds for multiple, more comprehensive learning difficulties. The findings have implications for service planning, as early identification and interventions of learning and coordination disorders might reduce related long-term social adversities.
  • Ekstam, Ulrika; Korhonen, Johan; Linnanmäki, Karin; Aunio, Pirjo (2018)
    Educational reforms during the last decade have led to a more inclusive environment for students with different needs and have placed demands on teachers' readiness to instruct diverse students in the general classroom. Previous research has ascertained that student achievement is correlated with teacher quality and teachers' efficacy beliefs. Today, basic competence in mathematics is more important than ever for managing routine day-to-day activities and therefore, identifying and educationally supporting students with low performance in mathematics is necessary. The aim of the study was to investigate the perceived teacher efficacy beliefs of special education and mathematics teachers when teaching mathematics to low-performing middle school students. Results indicated that special education teachers had higher teacher efficacy beliefs than mathematics teachers. Teacher experience, certification or gender had no effect on teachers' efficacy beliefs. Furthermore, subject teachers reported high pedagogical knowledge for teaching low-performing students, and special education teachers reported having moderate mathematical subject knowledge.
  • Aunio, Pirjo; Mononen, Riikka (2018)
    The aim of this study was to determine the effects of an educational computer game, Lola’s World, on low-performing children’s early numeracy skills. Four preschools with 33 children from families of low socio-economic status (Mage = 5.5 years) took part in this study. Of the 33 children, 23 were split randomly into two groups: an intervention group playing a numeracy game (Lola’s World) and an active control group playing an early reading skills game (Lola’s ABC party). The remaining 10 children served as a passive control group. The intervention phase lasted three weeks, during which time the children played the games daily for about 15 min. The children’s numeracy skills were measured using the Early Numeracy Test. Those children (n = 22) who exhibited low numeracy (i.e. at risk for learning difficulties in mathematics) were included in the analyses. The three groups did not differ in terms of parental educational levels or home languages. They were comparable in terms of nonverbal reasoning and the amount of time spent playing. The Lola’s World group improved its early numeracy performance from pretest to post-test. No between-group differences were found. The results are discussed in relation to providing game-based support for low-performing preschoolers.