Faculty of Educational Sciences


Recent Submissions

  • Levinthal, Cristiana (Helsingin yliopisto, 2022)
    The role of parents in children’s learning has evolved during the last decades, accompanying relevant changes in education policies and curricula, in Finland and other European countries, such as Portugal. These changes strive to develop children’s holistic learning in all areas of learning. However, little has been studied about best practices of parental engagement according to a holistic learning scenario. Additionally, most existing studies on the topic still adopt a traditional and school-centered approach to the parental role. The lack of scientific, up-to-date knowledge on parental engagement may serve as a significant obstacle for teachers and parents to develop effective cooperation and for holistic learning to take place. This thesis examined perspectives and practices of parental engagement amongst Finnish and Portuguese parents of primary-school-age children. Parents’ mindsets as an underlying phenomenon of engagement practices at home were also studied. Two important theories in educational sciences were adopted as a framework for this study: Janet Goodall’s theory of learning-centered parental engagement and Carol Dweck’s growth mindset theory. The main concept underpinning Goodall’s theory is that holistic learning is not limited to the school walls and, as such, teachers should also support parental engagement in the home. Accordingly, a parent-teacher partnership is always the basis for fruitful parental engagement, be it school-, schooling- or home-related. In addition, Dweck’s theory postulates that parents with a growth mindset adopt a learning-oriented attitude and encourage their children to face challenges. On the other hand, parents with a fixed mindset adopt a performance-oriented attitude, implicitly hindering their children’s learning. This dissertation consists of three original and sequential studies with a qualitative design, that aimed to describe parental engagement in Finland and Portugal. In total, 19 parents (NFinn = 10, NPort = 9) of children from grades 1 to 6 were interviewed. The interview texts were thematically analyzed by identifying common patterns and generating themes from their narratives. Study I (N = 19) aimed to examine home-related parental engagement and its underlying mindset. Therefore, perspectives and practices of engagement at home were studied by means of inductive content analysis. Deductive content analysis was applied to examine parents’ mindsets. Study II (N = 19) focused on school-related parental engagement. It examined parents’ perspectives and practices of engagement in the school and their views on parent-teacher partnerships. Inductive content analysis was utilized. Study III (N = 4) aimed to examine exemplar practices of parental engagement, in more detail, at home and at school. For that purpose, a multiple-case study was conducted with four of the parents (nFinn = 2, nPort = 2). In study III, abductive content analysis was applied. Study I found that all parents engaged with their children’s learning at home focusing both on schooling-related practices (e.g., supervising homework) and on holistic, school-independent, practices (e.g., supporting autonomy). Accordingly, many parents (n = 11) evidenced features of growth and fixed mindset underlying their narratives of engagement. Other parents (n = 8) evidenced solely growth mindset features. However, in both their engagement and their mindset-related narratives, every parent revealed specific tendencies. The combined analysis of these tendencies generated four engagement–mindset profiles, which were the main findings of Study I. Twelve parents (NFinn = 5, NPort = 7) were classified with the profile a growth mindset to support children’s holistic learning. Therefore, the results showed an overall tendency of the interviewed parents to engage holistically with their children’s learning at home and to actualize a growth mindset while doing so. Study II complemented these findings from a school-related perspective. The analysis found that parents considered that teachers supported the parent-teacher partnership and school-related engagement when they communicate, show professionalism, and invite active participation. Study II yielded relevant differences in the Finnish and Portuguese parents’ results. Overall, the Finnish parents revealed an engagement orientation and a partnership grounded in little face-to-face contact but consistent online communication with the teacher. On the other hand, the Portuguese parents evidenced an engagement orientation and a partnership grounded in rather frequent face-to-face interaction and visits to the school. These visits were, quite often, meant for parents to receive information or to involve them in playful, community-building events. Conversely, the Finnish parents’ visits to the school, when in place, served mostly for collaborative and goal-oriented meetings or activities. Study III examined the parental engagement practices of four exemplar parents, two Finnish and two Portuguese, both at home and at school. The findings originated four main categories: showing active interest in the child, supporting autonomy, building a partnership with the child’s teacher and school, and visiting the child’s school. Moreover, the study found that, even though each parent engaged with learning through unique interactions, Finnish and Portuguese narratives evidenced subtle but relevant differences. Finns more often displayed clear school-independent aspirations for their children than the Portuguese, for example, by supporting them in developing their hobbies or in the ability to make their own decisions in life. The present dissertation discusses these findings and brings forward implications for research and practice. It contributes to the current debate on associations between engagement and mindset, as well as on how to engage parents with learning and develop effective parent-teacher partnerships in the context of holistic education.
  • Ryökkynen, Sanna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2023)
    This dissertation investigated the elements that vocational education and training (VET) students who received intensive learning support perceived as the most relevant to enhance their studying, sense of belonging and what would create the domains for good VET. Earlier research on VET has shown that versatile, individually tailored measures of special support, teachers’ and other VET stakeholders’ understanding attitude impact both on students’ engagement in their studying, their success in their learning and comprehensive well-being. According to the Act on VET (531/2017) the aim of special support is firstly to permit equal access to vocational studying for those who have challenges in learning. Secondly, pedagogical special support is provided, if necessary, to ensure the attainment of the qualification requirements. However, these intentions do not necessarily end up embracing students’ perceptions of the aspects enhancing their studying, sense of belonging and good VET. Thus, the aim of the study was to examine students’ perceptions and to determine what elements they appreciated. The theoretical framework of the dissertation was Axel Honneth’s theory of recognition which suggests that an individual’s identity is established in social relations when one’s abilities and achievements are recognized. Social interactions shape both individuals’ identity and the normative mechanisms upon which society is founded. The other relevant concepts of the dissertation were derived from the ambition to provide an in-depth investigation on students’ needs. These multiple theories worked as pillars to verify and confirm the results of the study. The three studies summarized in the dissertation were based on empirical interview data. The studies used multiple methods (content analysis, the narrative’s positioning and actantial analysis) to investigate the position and the needs of the vocational students who received intensive special support. Interviews (N=29) were carried out in 2018 and 2019. The first data set (n=11) consisted of interviews with students in four vocational colleges providing intensive special support. The students’ experiences of the interaction between student and class teacher were in the focus of Study 1. The results indicated that students put only modest demands on their studying and on their teachers. The interaction between a student and a teacher was study-oriented and teacher-lead. According to the students’ descriptions, the interaction situations with the teachers were comfortable but formal and distant. Study 1 concluded that as part of the larger purpose of vocational education to support the growth of the students into autonomous, balanced and civilized citizens, it would be important to make room for the students’ voice and support their interpretations during their studying. This would include both acquiring qualifications for a profession, subjectification as an empowering element and socialization of the social, cultural and political order. Study 2 was based on the interviews with students (n=18) who were qualifying from a vocational special college. Its purpose was to elaborate on students’ experiences of their VET studying and mirror these aspects with Biesta’s (2010, 2020) theory on domains of good education - qualification, socialization, and subjectification. Finnish VET must be founded on inclusive principles that provide all students with the opportunity to become professionals of their fields, balanced and civilized citizens and assist them entering the world. However, the results of Study 2 summed up that instead of emphasizing individually personalized study paths to fulfil the qualification requirements even more attention should be paid to the subjective growth of the students and provide them with real encounters with the world out of college context. Drawing on Scheff (2000, 2003), the third study reported on the dynamics of the social emotions and social bonds between students (n=11) and class teachers. In the study I observed social emotions like shame and pride as the primary emotions that are present in all communication and action. The results of Study 3 demonstrated that pride was based on the students’ experiences in achieving their study objectives and thereby pleasing their teachers who had set the objectives. Pride related to the students’ ability to see positive development in their studying and in their sense of social belonging. Whereas students who experienced shame could not perceive themselves as being subjects of positive development. The study claimed that social belonging and communality need more space and attention in VET system instead of emphasizing competence and effective individual study paths. To conclude, the three studies reflected on students’ perception on the elements that enhance their studying, sense of belonging and domains of good VET. On the bases of the studies, it became apparent that students with intensive special needs appreciated their opportunity to study, to gain new skills and knowledge and to be more autonomous citizens. Understanding and supportive teaching staff was a significant pillar for the success of their studying. The dissertation argues that the students struggled for recognition which means that they wanted to be depicted by significant others in a broad-minded and positive way not only as students with special needs but as human beings with valuable skills and capabilities. The dissertation calls for awareness rising: a student with special needs in one area of life can be a top expert in another. The study suggests that VET teachers should acknowledge their role as change agents who could support both students and employers in diverse and equal employment and management. Furthermore, the dissertation claims that it is not enough to understand the special needs of the students to change the world, but we need education policy measures and practices which are disconnected from the economic growth and efficacy. This would call an education system which practices are developed towards ecological, social and economic sustainability. A VET system which has pledged itself to responsibility, fairness and mutual recognition, to the principles of ecosocial wisdom. The dissertation suggests that processes of dialectic recognition are the heart of the process of sustainable VET. ________________________________________ Keywords: vocational education and training, special education, interaction, belonging, theory of recognition, qualitative content analysis, narratives positioning, actantial analysis
  • Tammeleht, Anu (Helsingin yliopisto, 2022)
    Research ethics and integrity are core competencies in higher education institutions. Instead of focusing on rules and punishments, research ethics could be seen as a ”positive force guiding the entire research community towards the greater good” (Tammeleht, Löfström & Rodríguez-Triana, 2022, p 3). The focus on positive behaviour and seeing research ethics as a tool lifts research ethics and integrity training in the centre of fulfilling the core duties of higher education institutions – teaching, research and serving the society. Even though there is previous knowledge on which pedagogical approaches are effective in ethics education, there are still some gaps in understanding: how the learning process happens during research ethics training and how to support it. Namely, the anatomy of the learning process of various learners in higher education context has not been mapped. In addition, it is unknown what kind of support is effective during research ethics learning. Furthermore, the development of research ethics and integrity leadership competencies has not been studied before. Moreover, most research on ethics education has focused on individual gain, but groups’ progress during research ethics training is not known and this is especially relevant as collaboration and group-work are essential for group knowledge building. From these gaps a research problem emerges: how to facilitate a learning process so that it would support development of research ethics and integrity competencies in the higher education context? The aim of the research was to shed light on the learning process during research ethics and integrity training focused specifically on gradual development of research ethics and leadership competencies. Ultimately, this research may help improve understanding of the field and provide insights on how to better create resources and facilitate training for transversal competencies similar to research ethics and integrity. The outcomes of the research are an understanding of the learning process during research ethics and integrity training and how to support it. In addition, a research ethics training resource was created as a context of the study which supported facilitation of the learning process. The current research utilised the holistic DBR (design-based research) spanning through four Phases of research. Phase 1 focused on understanding the learning process during research ethics training, and included the development of the Foundation level training resource. The Foundation level supports becoming aware of ethical aspects present throughout research, making sense in the guidelines and understanding the content of the codes of conduct. The aim of Phase 1 was to understand how bachelor, masters and doctoral students collaboratively dealt with ethics cases. Recorded group work, student group reports, and post-training questionnaires were collected from 64 participants. The SOLO (Structure of Observed Learning Outcomes) taxonomy was used to identify levels of group understanding and evaluate development of ethical sensitivity during training sessions. The results indicated that all groups reached the level of understanding where they showed that concepts had been understood, but they sometimes struggled to make connections between them. Article I outlines the content of this Phase. Phase 2 included data from bachelor, master’s and doctoral students as well as supervisors (N=46) collected during training sessions at the Foundation and Advanced levels. The Advanced level provides opportunities to take the perspective of a group leader and practice recognising ethical principles and using ethical analysis. The aim of this Phase was to identify whether, how and when scaffolding (support provided to facilitate learning and fading as the competence increases) was used to support evolvement of ethics competencies. A scaffolding framework was compiled to identify and evaluate scaffolding during collaborative case-based research ethics and integrity training. Deductive qualitative analysis was implemented on verbatim transcripts of group-work recordings based on the scaffolding framework. The analysis revealed that structural scaffolding alone (learning material) was not always sufficient with bachelor students; they might need teacher guidance. Master’s level students benefited most from questions outlining the topics. Doctoral students and senior academics needed support to keep focus and remember the goal. Article II gives and overview of this Phase. Phase 3 included the Foundation (as a pilot to this Phase), Advanced and Leadership level training formats. The Leadership Level material encourages the participants to take the role of a research ethics and integrity leader and practice ethical analysis and decision-making at the institutional level. Data were collected from master’s students as part of the Pilot to Phase 3 (N=21), doctoral students (N=42) as well as senior academics (N=3) in the form of written group-reports, group discussion recordings and self-reflection forms. The aim of this Phase was to scrutinise the knowledge building of group-work through following the learning process and outcomes of groups while using the Computer-supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) approach during research ethics and integrity training, and evaluate the effectiveness of scaffolding provided during the training. The analysis of the learning process revealed that groups displayed higher levels of understanding than indicated in the paper version of the training resource reported previously, and the facilitator support decreased with the CSCL approach. Moreover, comparing observed versus self-perceived SOLO levels, 83% learners were able to evaluate their learning outcomes in a way that corresponded with the observed level. In other words, „the observed learning outcomes displayed by the group reports and discussions coincided with how the learners perceived their levels of understanding” (Tammeleht et al., 2022). When using the online training resource linearly, the learners were able to advance in their understanding even when the scaffolding faded gradually from one level to the next. Articles III and IV give an overview of this Phase. Phase 4 was a conclusive phase and summarised the entire research process by outlining the design principles. While there are effective strategies in ethics education and a variety of online resources for teaching ethics, there are no design principles available that would enable the development of ethics resources for different fields. This Phase outlined a set of design principles that could be used to develop flexible, transferable ethics resources, which can be adapted to different settings. The transferability of the design principles was also tested during this Phase. Article V (and its accompanying supplementary – Tammeleht, 2022b) summarises the content of this Phase. This dissertation contributes to understanding on how to facilitate the development of research ethics and integrity competencies through scaffolding and collaborative case-based problem-solving in higher education context. The designed training format utilises a systems approach and supports building a culture of integrity. The results of the study help higher education institutions and teachers of research ethics and integrity make evidence-based decisions on research ethics training. Using cases in the CSCL context fosters gradual development of research ethics and integrity competencies. Still, depending on the prior knowledge and ethical sensitivity, learners may need different kinds of support – either provided by the task design or the human facilitator. Combining facilitator evaluation and learner’s self-reflection provides a holistic view of the achieved understanding.
  • Kaunisto, Maarit (Helsingin yliopisto, 2022)
    This dissertation on CLIL teaching in Russian language primary education examines the situatedness of language practices in bilingual education. The focus of the dissertation is on the interaction between the teacher and the students, with an emphasis on language use and participant roles over a period of two years in Russian-language CLIL-classroom interaction when the students were 6 to 8 years old. The research draws upon sociocultural theory as a framework for learning in interaction. Target language learning is also approached from the perspective of ecological language teaching and learning. In addition, it relies on the importance of participation in learning a language. The subject of the research is CLIL classroom interaction of primary education students, where the target language is Russian, which is rare in CLIL context. The mother tongue of all participating students is Finnish, and the foreign language is Russian. The data of the study has been gathered from natural classroom interactions and it consists of video recordings. In the study, the linguistic and, where possible, the embodied interaction of the participants are analyzed in two different activities: teacher-led instruction and freer independent work activities.  The empirical data is examined using microethnography and multimodal conversation analysis. My dual role as a researcher and teacher of the target group has influenced the research process, evident in the gathering of data, reporting, analysis and in the reflection of the teacher-researcher dual role.  The dissertation consists of three original research articles and a summary. The first and second articles examine turn exchange structures and changes evident in them. In addition, they examine how the construction of turn exchange is supported. In teacher-led interaction, the most common three-part exchange structure is also the most common in the findings of the study. During the observation period, the amount of target language responses and learner initiatives increases and diversifies. Another key finding is also that the interaction support provided by the teacher increases the students’ use of target language expressions. During more independent activities, the focus of the study is on how the requests made by the students eventually change entirely to the target language. In addition, the linguistic and functional change in request structures is raised to view. The focus of the third article is on the structure of participation, the permanent and situational roles of the participants and the way these occur in classroom interaction. The main finding is that freer speech rights change the way students participate. In conclusion, the study shows a change in the participation of the students, in the use of the target language and in the socializing process in the CLIL classroom. Keywords: classroom interaction, CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning), early language learning, microethnography, teacher as reseacher, Russian language
  • Friberg, Kalervo (Helsingin yliopisto, 2022)
    This dissertation examines the changes in pupils’ attitudes to choices as regards further education and occupation. Pupils’ guidance and control attitudes, which were deduced from the integration of the Self-determination theory, the Theory of planned behavior and the Expectancy-value model, were researched in the context of work-life orientation (WLO). A hypothetical model linking self-direction, part-time job willingness and apprenticeship choice was tested. Consequently, Study I explored pupils’ (N = 669 and N = 649) attitudes as learned dispositions, and the changes in their affective entry characteristics. Study II (N = 649) probed the pupil self-determination profiles of occupational and educational choices. Study III (N = 649) investigated a hypothetical descriptive behavioral model of ninth graders. Study IV, (N = 236 and N = 253) examined the convergent validity of this research and investigated regional differences in the efficacy of the work-life orientation periods. After completion of the work-life orientation periods, the pupils’ independence and flexibility had changed. Self-direction had not changed. The weight of peers’ opinions on occupation and further education, and the influence of peers’ occupational choice had decreased. Vacation and workweek flexibility, and interest in factors other than good wages had increased. The boys had gained the girls’ seventh-grade lead at the end of the ninth grade. Discussions at home strengthened the pupils’ certainty about both occupation and orientation to vocational education. Self-direction surfaced as a lasting attitude domain in connection with future educational and occupational choices: The indicators of interest in independence, showing initiative and desire for self-guidance did not change during the work-life orientation periods. The pupils’ stronger interest in independent work and showing initiative were found to predict stronger certainty of occupation. Their beliefs concerning initiative, independence and self- guidance correlated with apprenticeship. There was also a correlation between perceived independence and self-guidance evaluations and part-time job willingness. Desire for self- guidance had a statistically significant, directly positive relationship with apprenticeship. No major regional differences in pupils’ attitudes were seen. The differences in the industrial structure of the sample regions, or in the parents’ level of education had no effect on the efficacy of the work-life orientation periods. In conclusion, the results of this dissertation show the role of pupils’ attitudes in work-life orientation. I conclude that in order to improve the efficacy of work-life orientation, pupils´ metacognition in controlling, monitoring and regulating their attitudes should be enhanced by intensifying the role of consultative talks in guidance counseling. Approximately half of the ninth grade pupils in Studies I and IV wrote down that their work-life orientation periods had only little or no impact on their choices about their future education or occupation. Knowledge of the pupils’ individual attitudes would increase the efficacy of the educational-vocational intervention and would help both the individual and society at large. Pupils are to be assigned to workplaces in placement sessions in which educators and prospective employers provide them with support and professional help. The assignments should include discussions at home. Pupils in general upper secondary schools should be given opportunities to take part in work-life orientation periods on a voluntary basis. Keywords: Metacognition, self-direction, self-determination, self-efficacy, work-life orientation
  • Asghar, Muhammad Zaheer (Helsingin yliopisto, 2022)
    The COVID-19 pandemic influenced all sectors of society, in particular, the education sector worldwide. The higher education commission (HEC) of Pakistan issued guidelines to its affiliated universities to shift their learning approaches from face-to-face to online. The e-learning infrastructure was not available in traditional universities in Pakistan. Higher education institutions also did not prepare their teachers to face an emergency like the COVID-19 pandemic. Higher education students also did not have e-learning experience. Therefore, it was a difficult task to shift three million higher education students from face-to-face to online learning approaches overnight. However, the accessibility of mobile phones, the internet, and social media emerged as sources of learning technologies for higher education students. The researcher operationalized mobile learning, social media based-learning, and open educational resources as emerging learning technologies in this doctoral dissertation. This research has focused on the acceptance of emerging learning technologies among higher education students during the COVID-19 pandemic in Pakistan. This doctoral dissertation is a compendium of four research articles. Article 1 studied mobile learning acceptance among pre-service teachers. Its theoretical framework was based on the unified theory of acceptance and use of technology (UTAUT). Article 2 studied the influence of the different cultural levels on the behavior of pre-service teachers towards open educational resources. Its theoretical framework was based on the theory of planned behavior. While article 3 studied the social media-based learning acceptance among higher education students. Its theoretical framework was based on the technology acceptance model. The aim of this doctoral dissertation was also to find out the influence of the acceptance of emerging learning technologies on the authentic leadership development, research competencies development, and research completion process of the higher education students. Article 3 also studied the influence of social media-based learning acceptance on authentic leadership development among higher education students. While article 4 studied the impact of social media tools on the research competencies and research completion process of the pre-service researchers during the COVID-19 emergency. Research articles adopted a survey approach to collect data from higher education students in Pakistan. Data were analyzed through symmetric and asymmetric approaches. It included covariance-based, structural equation modeling, partial least square structural equation modeling, and fuzzy set qualitative comparative analysis. This research dissertation provided knowledge in addition to previous literature; first pre-service teachers were ready to adopt M-learning, second pre-service teachers have positive intentions to use open educational resources, third higher education students accepted social media based-learning, fourth emerging learning technologies have influenced higher education students development as authentic leaders, fifth emerging learning technologies also helped pre-service researchers’ competencies development and research completion process during the COVID-19. This research project has practical implications for the higher education commission of Pakistan, and universities in a developing country like Pakistan to introduce emerging learning technologies-based instructional designs to continue teaching, learning, and research process during and post-crisis such as the COVID-19. It would help higher education students to emerge as authentic leaders during a crisis through emerging technologies. Future studies may be conducted to find out the emerging learning technologies adaptation process during the crisis. ________________________________________ Keywords: COVID-19, emerging learning technologies, M-learning, social media-based learning, open educational resources, higher education students, Pakistan  
  • Torkkeli, Kaisa (Helsingin yliopisto, 2022)
    This dissertation introduces a theoretically and empirically elaborated understanding of cooking in families with children. A core argument of the research is that cooking should be explored as foodwork to better understand its complexity, organisation, and enactment in current family life. The research is rooted in a home economics science that emphasises an everyday life perspective as a research focus. The dissertation establishes the synthesis of three sub-studies published as three articles. The sub-studies approach cooking through a recently developed practice theory applied in sociological consumer and food studies but is still a rare approach in the science of home economics. By applying practice theory, cooking is defined as a socially shared and recognised practice as well as a situationally carried out performance, which results in the subtle but continual change of social practice. Simply put, the practice of cooking exists as doings and sayings that can be organised through different conceptual elements. At the same time, cooking is included in the bundle of foodwork practices comprising several everyday practices, such as planning, cleaning, and grocery shopping. From these premises, the overarching aims are (1) to introduce foodwork as a perspective essential to understanding cooking in families with children, and (2) a novel video method to analyse both the doings and sayings of everyday practices, as well as (3) to demonstrate the applicability of the practice-theoretical perspective in the discipline of home economics. To capture both the doings and sayings of cooking practice, the research emphasises qualitative approaches. By applying a first-person perspective video method and two different interview methods, two qualitative data sets were collected: first, auto-ethnographical cooking videos recorded from my family life, and second, cooking videos recorded by five Finnish families with children for a one-week period, as well as pre-interviews and video stimulated recall (SR) interviews with the families. The participant families each consisted of two parents in paid employment and 2–4 children aged 5–16 years living in a metropolitan area. The analysis of the first data set was conducted in the first sub-study through a theory-based content analysis and a video analysis using the video analysis programme Interact. The analysis utilised six practice-theoretical elements of a practice. In the analysis of the second data set, the second and third sub-studies applied a theory-based and data-driven abductive analysis conducted with the help of the analysis programme ATLAS.ti. The analyses employed Thévenot’s regimes of engagement in the second sub-study and Mylan and Southerton’s coordination forms in the third sub-study. As result, the first sub-study conceptualised cooking in a nuanced manner by revealing an interplay between two different practice-theoretical conceptualisations of elements of practices: materials, competences, meanings, and understandings, procedures, engagements. Further, the study developed a first-person perspective video method to be applied in the second and third sub-studies. The second sub-study elucidated engagements in situationally appropriate cooking performances: the familiar and embodied practices in a home environment maintain relaxed everyday cooking, while various justifications of ‘good’ cooking produce negotiations. However, continual and unavoidable planning in different time spans acts as balancing to (re-)produce satisfaction in family life situations. The third sub-study clarified the coordination of parental foodwork. The study elaborated the material, temporal and interpersonal coordination of foodwork practices by conceptualising six adjustment themes (appropriateness, sequences, synchronisation, duties, significances, acceptances) through which foodwork is enacted to produce the continuity of family life. In sum, the sub-studies showed the continual planning and adjusting of foodwork practices, which advance the understanding of current home cooking in everyday family life. Through the results, the dissertation contributes to discussions of cooking skills by suggesting that skills are by-products of performances, or rather ‘do-abilities’ that make continual adjustment possible. Further, the developed and applied combination of video and interview methods is a new methodological contribution to studies that focus on everyday practices and emphasise their existence as doings and sayings. The dissertation also introduces a novel practice-theoretical approach to studying phenomena of everyday life in the home economics science by demonstrating various conceptual tools to apply in the analysis of household practices. Although the dissertation aims to construct a comprehensive picture of foodwork, in future studies, the application of elaborated conceptual tools such as adjustment themes should also be tested in the analysis of data collected from diverse families with different resources and socio-economic backgrounds. However, the dissertation succeeds in elucidating current home cooking by broadening the perspective on foodwork in a theoretically and empirically plausible manner. Foodwork and its continual coordination can be beneficial perspectives while reflecting on the teaching of cooking in various degrees of education or advisor organisations, as well as while aiming to promote more sustainable practices in research proposals. Overall, understanding everyday life as being saturated with social practices could strengthen the studies of home economics science interested in the analysis of household activity.
  • Seppänen, Sirke (Helsingin yliopisto, 2022)
    Improvisation is commonly understood as a performance or creating something without preparation. As an art form, improvised theatrical plays are created spontaneously on stage without a script. As an applied form of theatre, improvisation has been utilised in fields requiring collaboration and a tolerance for uncertainty, such as in the business and education sectors. This dissertation contributes to the literature in educational research by investigating applied improvisation as a tool to promote student teachers’ interpersonal competence. Applied improvisation enables individuals to explore and practise teaching-related encounters in a fictional and psychologically safe context. Psychological safety is particularly important when practising challenging interactions. Despite the fictionality of the context, bodily experiences during improvisations may promote experiential learning. The research summarised in this dissertation was guided by two primary research questions. First, I asked whether improvisation training influenced student teachers’ interpersonal competence and social stress. Student teachers (n = 19) participated in a 7-week (17.5-h) improvisation intervention, comprising the fundamentals of theatre improvisation and status expression (verbal and nonverbal behaviours indicating the social dominance of a person). The impact of the intervention was measured using subjective self-reports (interpersonal confidence, i.e., belief regarding one’s capability related to effective social interactions, self-esteem and experienced stress) and a large array of physiological measurements (heart rate, heart rate variability, skin conductance, facial muscle activity, frontal electroencephalogram (EEG) alpha asymmetry and stress hormone cortisol). Self-reports, physiological measurements and Trier Social Stress Tests (TSST; including public speaking) were performed before and after the improvisation intervention. An improvisation course was arranged for the control group (n = 20) following the intervention study. One year later, the long-term effects of improvisation training on self-reported interpersonal confidence were measured in a follow-up study. Second, I asked how real versus fictional social rejections impact experienced stress and psychophysiological responses. Student teachers (n = 39) participated in an experiment including both real (interview) and fictional (improvisation exercises) dyadic interactions. In the real condition, student teachers were unaware that the interviewer was an actor trained to include subtle social rejections during the interview by using three types of social rejections: devaluing, interrupting and nonverbal rejections. In the fictional condition, student teachers were informed in advance which social rejection type would be used during a later improvisation exercise. Experienced stress and psychophysiological reactivity during social rejections were measured under both experimental conditions. Following an improvisation intervention, interpersonal confidence and its components of performance confidence and a tolerance for failure increased relative to controls, whilst one year later the improved performance confidence persisted. Furthermore, a heterogeneous treatment effect was found. Those with the lowest pretest interpersonal confidence score benefited most from the improvisation intervention. No between-group differences in self-esteem were observed. Psychological and physiological indications of relief from performance-related stress were also observed following improvisation training. In addition, interpersonal confidence moderated self-reported and cardiovascular stress responses. Thus, interpersonal confidence may be worth controlling for in future research which examines the effects of interventions aimed at relieving social stress. The results also support the notion that repetition may also diminish performance-related stress, since the control group exhibited decreases in cardiovascular stress during some of the test conditions. The primary finding regarding the second research question emerged through the absence of any systematic attenuation of the psychophysiological reactivity to fictional versus real-world social rejections. In other words, although student teachers knew that improvised social rejections were fictional, their psychophysiological responses during improvisation remained relatively similar and associated with those of real-world rejections. It appears as though personal relevance and engagement during improvisation explain the relatively similar bodily responses. This result suggests that interpersonal encounters can be realistically modelled through applied improvisation. In this dissertation research, I also produced a validated self-report measure, the Interpersonal Confidence Questionnaire (ICQ), to evaluate the impact of social interaction training relying on applied improvisation. Using an additional dataset (n = 208), I validated the questionnaire and examined the impact of improvisation training on a larger sample. A confirmatory factor analysis identified six factors—performance confidence, flexibility, listening skills, a tolerance for failure, collaboration motivation and presence—that contribute to interpersonal confidence. Thus, the ICQ appeared valid and reliable as a self-report measure of interpersonal confidence. In summary, the findings from this research indicate that a relatively brief improvisation intervention promotes interpersonal confidence, specifically amongst those with low interpersonal confidence. Furthermore, improvisation training serves as an intervention against performance anxiety and generates long-term improvements to performance confidence. This dissertation provides a theoretical framework and empirical support for the application of improvisation as a tool to develop interpersonal competence skills, particularly within professions requiring face-to-face interactions. Regardless of the fictionality of the improvisational context, genuine emotions and experiences may emerge, serving as experiential learning experiences. The significance of these findings may extend to theatre-based practices and drama education in general, which rely on holistic action and personal engagement in fictional contexts. The findings agree with previous research, suggesting that including the improvisation method in teacher education curricula can enhance student teachers’ interpersonal competence as well as their skills related to sensitive and responsive teaching. Finally, this dissertation contributes to social neuroscience by recommending an ecologically valid experimental design wherein naturally unfolding social interactions can be achieved using improvisation techniques. Keywords: experiential learning, fictionality, improvisation, interpersonal confidence, intervention, psychophysiology, social interaction, social rejection, social stress, teacher education, theatre-based practices
  • Valtonen, Virpi (Helsingin yliopisto, 2022)
    The decline of biodiversity, endangered animals and climate change have brought animals into studies of different scientific fields and discussions in the media in a new way. The ongoing eco-crisis also requires a critical examination of the idea of education, which is traditionally limited to interaction between humans. In many places, anthropocentric or human-centered thinking still pervades curricula at different school levels and Finnish educational practices in general. In my theoretical-methodological dissertation research, I argue that, at the latest, it is now time to start thinking critically about what kinds of ways of knowing, being and doing guide our relationships with animals in the context of education and learning, and what means could be used to achieve broader understanding and acceptance of the multispecies world relationship. In this research, I present the theoretical, methodological, and pedagogical contributions of multispecies education. Broadly speaking, the question is about the relationships between humans and other animals and their place in society, education, and learning. In this research are interwoven less traditional ways of knowing, theories of affect and perspectives of human–animal studies. The perspectives are examined through a posthumanist perception of humans and the world and are delivered through storytelling about relations and relativity with other animals. The dissertation is divided into three parts and each part answers the following research questions, respectively. Research question 1. What kind of turns and developmental phases in different fields of science and research have begun to make the necessity of multispecies education visible? In the first part of the research, I will present the twists and turns in science that serve as justification for the necessity of multispecies education. The justifications can be found in the framework of posthumanist thinking, the changes in knowledge and attitudes related to other animals, and the recognition of affects in our human–animal relationships. Research question 2. How can forms of multispecies education be studied? In the second part of the research, I position my research in a post-qualitative research orientation and present a methodological approach to support the implementation of multispecies pedagogy. I am introducing a method of storytelling that I have termed rag-rug storytelling. It can be used to critically examine multispecies relationships and find action-oriented and invisible worlds of phenomena. Research question 3. What kind of conceptual framework and pedagogy does multispecies education require? In the third part of the research, I build a conceptual and pedagogical framework for multispecies education. A conceptual change is needed as a premise for multispecies education. This study, instead of influencing the turn interaction, is seen as intra-action, where relativity, agency and situationality between humans and other animals are interwoven. Knowing is seen as diffraction rather than reflection, and embodied knowing / not-knowing is taken alongside factual knowing when examining human–animal relationships. What if-knowledge invites you to the edges of fuzzy gaps where you can never be sure of anything. I present three dimensions as pedagogical premises for multispecies education: These include the affective dimension, the ethological dimension and the ethical–political dimension. The affective dimension emphasizes the examination of the emotions of human individuals and from the perspective of action, suggesting that in multispecies education the handling of awkward and sticky emotions also play a central role. The ethological dimension emphasizes the understanding of animal feelings and consciousness and suggests that schools implement more real encounters with other animals. The ethical and political dimension emphasizes everyday activism related to animal relations, which can be implemented by participating in the activities of, for example, animal welfare associations. All three pedagogical dimensions are interwoven here and are mutually supporting elements in the pedagogical practices of multispecies education. Keywords: affect, animal turn, companion species, multispecies education, posthumanism, post-qualitative research, walking with
  • Darling, Deborah Charlotte (Helsingin yliopisto, 2022)
    Languages are indexed by their cultural, economic, political and social value. In everyday life, this means that not all languages are used equally for all purposes. This is especially true for those activities associated with the more “elite” practices in society, such as (international) business, law and, in the case of this doctoral research, higher education. Communication beyond one’s language group/nation/region often requires the use of a lingua franca, and in higher education (HE) the international lingua franca has become English. Lingua francas are very important for access to, for example, wealth, social services and political domains, but they can also lead to domain-specific abandonment of other languages which has consequences for linguistic diversity, leading to impoverishment of knowledge, diversity and civil rights. This research is based on the argument that HE is a space where the indexing of languages can be challenged due to its increasing linguistic diversity from internationalisation. It also suggests that Finnish HE and, more specifically, the University of Helsinki (UH), because of its status as a bilingual institution with a trilingual language policy, is an ideal setting to investigate how the challenge of maintaining the value of linguistic diversity can be met. The presence of international students adds to local linguistic diversity and engaging with the languages they bring benefits the academic community. With this in mind, this doctoral research investigates how knowledge can be shared in a lingua franca without diminishing the potential roles that international student languages can play. To investigate this issue, data were collected from international students and local lecturers through task-based focus groups interviews and semi-structured interviews, respectively. The data were analysed using the discourse analysis to better understand language ideologies and attitudes towards and experiences of using and learning different languages from both institutional and subjective perspectives. The findings of the research show that while linguistic diversity is supported by the UH, as demonstrated by the range of language learning opportunities it offers, space for international students to use their languages is not typically provided and this appears to align with broader, global language ideologies. However, a range of mostly spontaneous and incidental approaches to linguistic inclusion surfaced in the data too. Drawing on plurilingual pedagogic theories and studies along with the findings from the analysis of the data, a linguistically-inclusive approach to courses that use English as a Medium of Instruction (EMI) is proposed. This approach seeks to encourage linguistic diversity, intercultural competence, and internationalisation at home. Importantly, it is proposed for use on EMI courses so that it does not displace Finnish as an academic or instructional language. The intention of the approach is to challenge the indexing of different languages and provide benefits for all students in HE.
  • Niemi, Laura (Helsingin yliopisto, 2022)
    The importance of mathematical sciences is clearly of significance to society, but not enough students proficient in mathematics at school apply for university places and jobs in the field of mathematics, and especially women are underrepresented there. We need more national research about students who do very well in mathematics. This thesis provides valuable information about mathematically high-achieving students’ characteristic features, needs and educational choices, providing information that education policy can profit from. The study is based on the longitudinal data collected by the National Board of Education and the Finnish Education Evaluation Centre. The data consist of pupils belonging to the same age group who were followed from the 3rd grade of primary school to the end of upper secondary level between 2005 and 2015. The data were collected through exams and surveys and consist of information about students’ mathematical competence, attitudes and background variables related to the individual and the social environment. The thesis examines mathematically high-achieving students who do very well in mathematics. The success is seen as a potential that develops according to a socio-cognitive model in the interaction of factors between the individual and the social environment. The definition of high-achieving students was based on success in the national examination of mathematics in the 9th grade (Study I and Study II) and success in the matriculation examination of advanced mathematics (Study III). The thesis focused on answering five main questions in three studies. The aims were to find out 1) what kind of students develop into high-achieving students and what kind of educational choices do they have, 2) what is the connection between mathematically high-achieving student’s mathematical competence and attitudes, 3) how does high-achieving students’ home background explain the development of mathematical competence and educational choices, 4) how do pedagogical teaching solutions explain the development of mathematically high-achieving student’s mathematical competence and attitudes, and 5) how do mathematically high-achieving boys and girls differ from each other. The relationships between the variables were analysed using multivariate methods. The most important methods were the different forms of regression analysis and decision tree analysis. These methods improved each other, recognizing both linear and nonlinear relationships between variables. According to the results, mathematical skills of high-achieving students in the 9th grade varied during primary school. About 40 % of high-achieving students in the 9th grade were in the top ten in the 3rd grade and about 65 % in the top ten in the 6th grade. Almost all high-achieving students (92%) applied to upper secondary general school and about 60 % of high-achieving students in the 9th grade were also highest achieving at the end of upper secondary school. The results indicated that the students’ previous competence, positive self-concept and the educational level of their parents explained the development into a mathematically high-achieving student. Teaching-related solutions did not directly contribute to the students’ development into a high-achieving student, but teaching-related solutions were relevant in reinforcing positive attitudes. The results indicated that special attention should already be paid to strengthening mathematically high-achieving girls’ attitudes in primary school. The attitudes of mathematically high-achieving girls developed to a higher level than mathematically high-achieving boys at the lower secondary level and upper secondary level. This study suggests that solutions related to student-centredness that take into account students’ individual needs were key to strengthening positive attitudes. However, more research is needed on how well the individual needs of mathematically high-achieving students can be supported when there are large differences in skill levels and the need for support between students in the same classroom.
  • Niemelä, Mikko (Helsingin yliopisto, 2022)
    Curriculum integration refers to the integration of educational knowledge or to the building of an interdisciplinary curriculum with the objective of making learning more holistic. Key questions pertaining to curriculum integration include how to differentiate between and integrate knowledge within and across the boundaries of school subjects. However, school subjects often contradict curriculum integration because the subjects seemingly fragment the curriculum. This thesis explores what it means to adopt a knowledge-based approach to curriculum integration and examines the kinds of conditions set by knowledge integration with respect to teaching and curriculum design. This article-based thesis includes three studies. Two of the studies are theoretical, while the other applies quantitative empirical methods. The studies identify three major conditions affecting curriculum integration. The first study presents curriculum integration as a challenge for teachers precisely because it expands the demands of teacher knowledge. The second study points to the subject-matter specific character of curriculum integration, meaning that not all subjects can be equally integrated with one another. Given that curriculum integration creates challenges for teachers and is subject-matter specific, the third study suggests that it needs to be addressed more clearly as an issue concerning the organisation of educational knowledge in the written curriculum. To study the requirements of teacher knowledge and how they change when curriculum is integrated, the thesis applies Lee Shulman’s construct of pedagogical content knowledge. Then, to examine why knowledge matters at the level of written curriculum, it draws on discussions about powerful knowledge in education initiated by Michael F.D. Young and Johan Muller. These two frameworks serve in a mutually complementary way to assess both the level of teaching and that of curriculum design. The knowledge-based approach reveals that integrating educational knowledge is essential to the formation of school subjects and to the design of the curriculum as a coherent whole. The major claim of this thesis is that separate school subjects and curriculum integration are not opposing poles, but rather comprise the basic elements of teaching and curriculum design.
  • Vesterinen, Liisa (Helsingin yliopisto, 2022)
    This study investigated the reading and writing disorder among Finnish-speaking candidates of the Matriculation Examination. The study was based on dyslexia diagnostic assessment reports sent to the Matriculation Examination Board. The severity of the disorder had been graded with a four-point scale (no disorder, minor, moderate and severe disorder). The candidates’ difficulties with reading, writing, and foreign languages had been evaluated with screening tests and free-form descriptions. In addition, this study examined when the reading and writing disorder had been identified, and whether the candidates had enrolled into special education programmes during the various stages of school education. A multi-method research approach was chosen. The research data consist of a total of 793 diagnostic assessment reports of the spring 2008 candidates: 492 reports concerned females and 301 males. All the candidates spoke Finnish and were enrolled in either a regular school or an adult high school. The assessors of the reading and writing disorder, who were mainly special teachers, had employed a vast variety of screening tests to resolve the degree of the disorder. This study focused on data from the following subset of tests: standardized Niilo Mäki Institute tests aimed for youth and adults, as well as a so-called Tarzan-test tailored for upper secondary school students. According to the four-point scale of grading, more than half of the candidates had minor difficulties with reading (decoding and comprehension) as well as writing (spelling and productive writing). When it came to learning of foreign languages, the candidates showed an almost equal likelihood of minor and moderate difficulties. Both the test results and the free-form descriptions indicated the following key problems among the candidates: slowness in reading, and misspelling of words during writing. The candidates also had difficulties with productive writing to some extent. The foreign language difficulties greatly resembled the difficulties experienced with the mother tongue. Most of the reading and writing disorders had been spotted during comprehensive school. However, there was a significant number of candidates whose disorder had gone unnoticed until the upper secondary school. Most of the candidates in the group where the observation had taken place in the comprehensive school had received special education. The special education had reached only one tenth of the group where the observation had taken place later. A significant fraction (38 %) of the candidates had not been in a special education programme at any education stage. With regards to the disorder identification time and the access to the special education programmes, there were no differences that could be explained with gender or regional aspects. On the contrary, comparing regular schools to adult high schools did reveal differences. Looking from an equality perspective, it would be crucial that the reading and writing disorder is taken into account in the Matriculation Examination. This study indicates that there is room for improvement to ensure that the candidates with dyslexia can take part on an equal footing with students without the disorder. Keywords: reading and writing disorder, taking reading and writing disorder into account in the Matriculation Examination, dyslexia diagnostic assessment report, equality, decoding skills, reading comprehension, spelling skills, productive writing
  • Pyy, Iida (Helsingin yliopisto, 2022)
    Research on the relevance of emotions in political mobilisation has increased in recent decades. One reason for this may be the increasingly polarised and diversified nature of the political culture in liberal democracies. This thesis contributes to this discussion from the viewpoint of Martha Nussbaum’s philosophical work on political emotions – a perspective that has not yet been comprehensively examined in the field of education. The study aims to explore both the tensions and the possibilities involved in education for political emotions with respect to constructing and pursuing collective political aims. It elucidates how Nussbaum’s work could increase our understanding of the role of political emotions in political mobilisation and provide guidance for education in terms of addressing various social and political challenges.  This thesis is a theoretical inquiry and employs the methods of philosophical research, including theoretical and conceptual analysis as well as philosophical argumentation. The thesis consists of three interrelated studies that approach the relevance of Nussbaum’s work to education from different angles. Furthermore, through the studies, Nussbaum’s work is discussed in three frameworks of political education: global citizenship education, democratic citizenship education, and human rights education.  The first study explores how Nussbaum’s work can increase our understanding of the possible harmful effects associated with negative political emotions (such as fear and anger). Drawing from a recent case of educational policy-making in one of the largest cities in Finland, and from Nussbaum’s theory of political emotions, the first study elucidates the problematic consequences that negative political emotions can have for the political culture, educational policy-making, and for global citizenship education. This study also emphasises the importance of following established democratic procedures, policies, and guidelines in educational decision-making. Furthermore, the study argues for the reinforcement of positive political emotions (such as hope and compassion) as a long-term educational objective.  The second study examines how Nussbaum’s theory of political emotions – more specifically, her understanding of democratic politics and the role of emotions in political mobilisation – may contribute to the contemporary philosophical debates on citizenship education. While the study focuses on contesting agonistic models of citizenship education, it also addresses the limitations of deliberative and liberal theories, and illuminates the relationship of Nussbaum’s theory to these contesting approaches. Drawing from Nussbaum, the second study highlights the important role of political emotions in education for democratic citizenship, yet challenges the centrality of political conflict in citizenship education. It further argues that citizenship education can and should play a part in shaping the way students come to understand the nature of the political: as a collective striving towards shared goals, supported by constructive political emotions, rather than a conflictual relation between ‘us’ and ‘them’.  The third study focuses especially on envisioning the practical implementations of Nussbaum’s theory of political emotions. The study suggests that the relevance of Nussbaum’s work to education is associated with its potential for offering guidance on how to develop the motivation ultimately needed to work for social justice. In the third study, Nussbaum’s theory, particularly the concept of political compassion, is discussed in the context of human rights education. The study suggests different ways in which the pedagogic capability of narrative imagination, a concept drawn from Nussbaum’s educational account, could be practiced in classrooms when teaching and learning about human rights issues, such as racial discrimination. Therefore, the third study takes the first steps in imagining a ‘Nussbaumian pedagogy’. As a whole, the thesis proposes that through Nussbaum’s work it is possible to argue that emotions matter for political mobilisation. The study also suggests that a model of citizenship education informed by Nussbaum’s theory of political emotions could contribute to citizenship education theorising by avoiding some of the problems associated with the deliberative, liberal, and agonistic models of citizenship education. Furthermore, the thesis suggests that Nussbaum’s work can provide education with guiding ideals and principles that can have particular relevance in the current theoretical, educational, and an increasingly polarised social and political landscape. Nussbaum’s theory might help in articulating some constructive and solution-oriented suggestions for education that are much needed in our interconnected world that faces global challenges. However, this study finds that Nussbaum’s ideas need to be brought into discussion with the ones articulated by scholars from more critical schools of thought. Furthermore, this thesis argues that while political emotions are focal for political action as well as for education, the nature of different political emotions and their role in society should be critically reflected upon in order to understand both their ambivalences and their possibilities. Only when political emotions are exposed to serious scrutiny, can they be beneficial in education for the good of societies.
  • Hummelstedt, Ida (Helsingin yliopisto, 2022)
    This dissertation focuses on Finnish multicultural education on the level of discourses in teacher education and practice in schools. Earlier research on multicultural education, both internationally and in Finland, has shown that good intentions to celebrate diversity and integrate culturally different Others do not always end up promoting social justice for all pupils, and instead often merely reproduce unequal power relations. In the Finnish context, multicultural education has often concentrated on those considered immigrant pupils but reports and research show that pupils who become racialised as non-whites and/or perceived as immigrants and non-Finnish are still often marginalised or made victims of racism in education. Thus, the aim of this dissertation is to investigate what kind of multicultural education is taught in Finnish teacher education and in schools and to determine its implications for social justice. The theoretical framework in the dissertation is critical multicultural education, which aims to examine and act upon all kinds of inequalities created and sustained in schools and education. The dissertation is also informed by critical theories on race. The study consists of three publications, each encompassing one sub-study with one level of Finnish multicultural education and one set of data: teacher education programme policy documents, teacher educator interviews, and video observations of teaching by a teacher specialised in multicultural education (multicultural education in practice). The analysis of the data is based on a social constructionist paradigm informed by critical multicultural education. I used discourse theory for the analysis of the teacher education programme policies and teacher educator interviews, and an applied version of conversation analysis for the analysis of the video observations of the teaching situations. The sub-study of the teacher education programme policy documents found that the dominating discourses on multicultural education conformed to a conservative framework, constructing the immigrant Other as a problem and as someone to be integrated into Finnish society. The policies also contained liberal and critical discourses, but the critical discourses focusing on social justice often used concepts other than multicultural ones that generally emerged as an othering concept. The problems constructed in the different discourses led to different implications for teaching: the conservative discourses focused on educating the Other, the liberal discourses on appreciating diversity, and the critical discourses on educating and acting against inequalities. The sub-study of teacher educators found the dominating discourses to be those that promoted a liberal multicultural education that acknowledged and appreciated diversity. Although in the minority, there was also a conservative discourse that constructed the immigrant Other as a problem or a threat, and several discourses maintained the dichotomy of Finns and the multicultural Others. The discourse on self-reflection shifted the gaze to the teacher students and teachers instead of the Others, and the critical discourses aimed to examine inequality and act for equality. In the sub-study of the video observations of teaching situations led by a teacher specialised in multicultural education, categorisation on the basis of race, nationality and gender emerged frequently among the pupils. A closer analysis of the use of the categorisations showed that the way in which the pupils used them in regard to their classmates did not grant all pupils the same agency and belonging, and the dichotomy of Finns and immigrants was also sustained on this level. The categorisations were mostly reacted to by other pupils and not so much by the teacher, who focused more on the pedagogical dimension. On the whole, the dissertation shows that although Finnish multicultural education has some critical discourses, the dominating discourses are liberal and conservative, and the positions and solutions they produce often hinder social justice more than enable it. The analysis suggests that the subject position of the multicultural immigrant Others is constructed as the opposite to that of Finns, rendering the position of the Other a position of deficit and the position of a Finn as unachievable for those once constructed as Others, with race being a central factor in this construction. The analysis also showed that diversity was simultaneously constructed as both the new norm and as something outside it, to a larger extent existing in the schools than in teacher education. The analysis of problems and subject positions in the discourses showed the importance of which problems are chosen to be focused on and what kind of positions are enabled for the different actors in education. The analysis also showed that pupils are active agents involved in the categorisations relevant for social justice every day in schools. The study suggests implications for the improvement of Finnish multicultural education to promote social justice. It proposes that Finnish multicultural education needs to articulate itself as explicitly antiracist and to re-articulate Finnishness as inclusive and dynamic. The study argues that critical analysis is needed of subject positions and the problems constructed in the discourses on multicultural education at different levels of education, and that we need to concentrate on the lack of social justice as the problem for which we must find solutions. The study also suggests that teachers need education in critical reflection on norms, power and privilege in order to be able to engage in discussions on these issues with their pupils. To enable this, teacher educators must also themselves critically reflect on their complicity in the reproduction of injustices and act consciously to disrupt it. Further, multicultural education ought to be developed to benefit all pupils and students, implying equal participation in the articulations of problems, contents, and discourses. In this process, all actors in schools and education should be positioned as agents of social justice. The study advocates a combination of critical multicultural education, antiracist education, norm critical education and other closely related pedagogies in the process of developing and implementing education for social justice. It further recommends including the emotional dimension of critical multicultural education in future research and using the tensions between intentions and outcomes as opportunities for continuously developing the field. ________________________________________ Keywords: Finnish multicultural education, critical multicultural education, race, social justice, discourse theory analysis, teacher education programme policies, teacher educator interviews, teacher video observations
  • Vuorinen, Kaisa (Helsingin yliopisto, 2022)
    This study arose from the need for new knowledge and materials to apply positive education and character strength teaching in Finland. One of the promises in the Finnish National Core Curriculum (2014, p. 14) is that every student has the right to grow into his or her full potential as a human being and as a member of society. However, one of the main challenges in any educational organization is how to nurture students’ capacity to fulfill their potential. The goal of positive education is to make every learner aware of their own strengths, also the capabilities that are not typically visible in traditional schoolwork. This thesis examines how usage of students’ personal strengths is related to their happiness and how character strengths can be taught to students and teachers to benefit their social skills and well-being. As part of the thesis, two new character strength intervention programs with a lot of practical material were developed for both students and teachers. The theory base in this thesis comes from positive psychology (Seligman & Csíkszentmihályi, 2000), the paradigm that focuses on the positive aspects of life, and its educational applications. This thesis consists of three original studies. First the link between the usage of personal strengths and general happiness was examined with a sample of Finnish 10-16-year-old students (n=418). Second, the usage of personal strengths, social skills and well-being in students aged 10-13 (n=175, of which 17 had special needs) was promoted via a controlled 16-week character strength intervention that was developed for the purpose. And finally, in Study 3, it was researched how character strengths, particularly compassion, can be explicitly taught in a six-week controlled intervention for early childhood head teachers (n=95). The first main finding was that the students’ usage of their personal strengths is related to their general happiness, both directly and indirectly via school-related happiness and school engagement. A total of 53 percent of students’ overall happiness could be explained by the structural equation model specified for the purpose. The result shows the importance of being able to use one’s personal strengths in schoolwork and it reveals one of the potential factors capable of fostering positive school experiences and happiness. The second key finding came from the intervention study that evidenced that all boys in the whole intervention group improved in anti-aggressive behavior and in consistency of interest with statistical significance. The girls in the mainstream intervention group showed a statistically significant increase in empathy and perseverance of effort. The students with special needs seemed to benefit from explicit character strengths teaching, however with no statistical significance. In addition, improved teacher-student and student-student relationships were documented by the teachers. The teachers who implemented the intervention expressed great satisfaction in their interviews. They praised the improved social cohesion among their students and a positive change in their pedagogical working habits as teachers. The third main finding in the thesis was that the early childhood head teachers’ participation in the character strengths intervention brought a significant increase in their identification and usage of personal strengths. Additionally, the teachers reported advanced skills in creating a more compassionate, supportive organizational culture in early childhood education and care (ECEC) settings. To conclude, adopting a strength-based approach in schools and in ECEC settings and equipping students and teachers with character strengths knowledge seems to promote their well-being. However, running interventions and testing new pedagogies is a challenging task. These challenges are discussed in this thesis. The thesis adds to both the theoretical and practical development of character strengths teaching and teacher education. Given the importance of teaching well- being-related skills to students with special needs, one suggestion of this thesis is to consider the role of positive education in greater depth in inclusive classrooms. In addition, knowing the salience of ECEC to young children’s well-being and learning, a strength-based approach should be promoted early on. In the last chapter of the thesis, implications for future studies and practices are suggested. This thesis has relevance for researchers in the field of positive education, special education, inclusive education, and basic education. It also includes ideas for guidelines for teacher education, policy makers and school principals, teachers, and other stakeholders to promote strengths education in school and in ECEC settings. Keywords: positive education, character strengths, well-being, happiness, intervention study, children with special educational needs
  • Kauppila, Aarno (Helsingin yliopisto, 2022)
    This study analyses citizenship and governmentality concerning persons with learning disabilities. It contributes to academic debates in disability studies and educational sociology by analysing the educational and societal positioning of persons with learning disabilities. In addition, the study participates in social policy research debates concerning social services for and living conditions of persons with learning disabilities. The dissertation consists of four academic articles and a summary. The articles analyse Finnish national and international disability and education policy from the early 1990s to the end of the 2010s as well as everyday education practices of the vocational programme called “Preparatory education and training for work and independent living” (the training programme) at a vocational special education institution. The summary discusses and scrutinizes the themes and findings of the articles in their historical context. The research data consists of (1) national and international policy documents, (2) interviews conducted with nine experts in vocational special needs education, and (3) ethnographic fieldnotes and interviews from fieldwork conducted in a vocational special education institution during the school year in 2015–2016. The concept of governmentality and theory on the relation between normalcy and disability form the theoretical framework for this study. Utilizing these theoretical perspectives, the analysis focuses on various technologies and rationalities by which persons with learning disabilities are governed as citizens. The analysis of disability and education policies shows that since the 1990s the main objective of these policies has been to improve the socio-economic situation of people with learning disabilities and their opportunities to participate in society. In line with these policy objectives, in the last few decades persons with learning disabilities have had more opportunities for social participation, especially in education. Since the late 1990s, persons with learning disabilities have had the right to participate in both basic and post-compulsory education within the general education system. This however intersects with neo-liberal rationalization becoming mainstream in political reasoning. The neoliberal reasoning of self-sufficiency and economic independence has altered the legitimization of social and educational provision for persons with learning disabilities. Analysis of the interviews with vocational special needs education experts and the ethnographic data from the training programme shows how segregated educational arrangements are legitimized and how persons with learning disabilities are governed within these arrangements. The training programme does not lead to vocational qualifications. Instead, its societal function is to guarantee students who are not seen as able to cope with vocational education an opportunity to participate in post-compulsory education. Therefore, the training programme is legitimized though its societal function; participation in it is considered as societal participation per se. In contrast to this view, the analysis of the content of the programme makes visible how the students are actually guided to social services and trained to live as self-sufficiently as possible within these settings. By historizing both the expansion of educational options for persons with learning disabilities and the mainstreaming of neoliberal reasoning in disability and education policy, the study shows how disability and education services have been separated during the last decades. This separation has depoliticized the connection between social services and education. Through depoliticization, the educational objectives and practices of the training programme are defined as an educational matter, and therefore, as both unquestionable and reasonable. It is argued that this change has affected the societal positioning of persons with learning disabilities as deserving poor citizens since the 1990s.
  • Hautakangas, Merja (Helsingin yliopisto, 2022)
    The development of self-regulation skills is a significant developmental goal for a child because these skills are pivotal for learning, establishing positive interactions, and forming a sense of belonging, and self-efficacy. Various intervention programmes have been developed to facilitate children’s self-regulation skills. Currently, studies on the effectiveness of intervention programmes to enhance children’s self-regulation skills in Finland are limited despite the widespread adoption of such programmes. The purpose of this doctoral thesis is to examine the Kids’ Skills intervention programme (Furman, 2003). While the programme has been in use since the 1990s in Finnish education to promote children’s self-regulation skills, little research knowledge on Kids’ Skills is available. The research objective of this thesis is to understand how children’s self-regulation skills develop with the help of the Kids’ Skills intervention in Finnish early childhood education and how professionals use the programme to enhance these skills. Research attention is also directed to children’s and their guardians’ experiences of the intervention programme. The objectives of this doctoral study are addressed through the following research questions: 1) How do early childhood education professionals promote children’s self-regulation skills through the Kids’ Skills intervention programme, and 2) How do children’s self-regulation skills develop in the Kids’ Skills intervention programme?. The context of this doctoral thesis is early childhood education and pre-primary education and special education. This mixed methods study was carried out as a ten-week intervention. The participants comprised 28 children between the ages of four and seven years old from early childhood education and pre-primary education, their guardians, and 14 early childhood education professionals working in day-care centres in Finland. In addition, the study included a control group of 15 children, their guardians, and professionals. The research data were gathered prior to, during, and after the intervention. The quantitative data were collected by using the Head-Toes-Knees-Shoulders test (Ponitz et al., 2008.), and the Children Behaviour Rating Scale form (Bronson et al., 1995). In addition, the video footages were analysed using the Adult Engagement Scale (Laevers, 1994). The research was complemented with qualitative data collected from the early childhood education professionals and children participating in the study. These data consisted of written accounts from the professionals and visual-narrative data from the children. The quantitative data were analysed via ANOVA and t-tests. Qualitative thematic content analysis was used for analysing the professionals’ accounts and the visual-narrative material produced by the children. The thesis contains a summary and three empirical articles. The first article focused on investigating the effects of the Kids’ Skills intervention on children’s self-regulation skills and how professionals promoted these skills. The second article focused on education professionals, and it studied how children’s self-regulation skills were supported in a Kids’ Skills intervention, also from a pedagogical perspective. The third article investigated how children described changes in their learning of self-regulation skills in the intervention and how these changes were reflected in their social environment. The results indicated that the child's self-regulation skills improved significantly with the aid of the Kids’ Skills intervention. The results suggest that the child’s development of self-regulation skills was driven by the programme’s child-centredness, growth mindset and the emphasis placed on the child’s inclusion and agency. The professionals enhanced the child’s self-regulation skills through sensitive co-regulation, encouraging the child in a goal-oriented manner while supporting their autonomy and self-confidence in their abilities. The professionals using Kids’ Skills were highly committed to promoting the child’s self-regulation skills, whereas such commitment could not be observed in the control group. In their own drawings and recollections, the children described how their personal challenges had become strengths. For example, feelings of anger had turned into compassion towards a peer. The children also described decrease in their aggressive behaviour, and increased friendship skills. In addition, the children described changes in the roles and dynamics within their peer group. For instance, they gained the courage to actively participate in shared games and were accepted as participants. The thesis indicates that children’s self-regulation skills can be enhanced in early childhood education with the aid of the Kids’ Skills intervention, but the success of the program is dependent on the commitment, pedagogical expertise, and pedagogical leadership of early childhood education professionals.
  • Kuosmanen, Sinikka (Helsingin yliopisto, 2022)
    The Art Narrative is a two-part and four-task study of art education in early childhood education within the constructive cultural framework of education and development. My research is guided by Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological systems theory (1979, 1989, 2005) of sociology of education, Bruner’s (1989, 1996, 2003) constructive cultural psychological theories of the development of representative, narrative and practical thinking and dialogic learning and teaching, Vygotsky’s (1978) sociocultural theory of the child´s proximal development zone and play aa the principal focus of research on early achildhood and Räsänen´s constructive multisensory holistic conception of art knowledge. My research seeks to determine how early childhood art education manifests itself in the context of early childhood education and what aspects of the constructive cultural framework guides my work. The first part of my research utilizes the empirical part of my 1994 licentiate thesis, which is an is an autoethnographic, retrospective and reflective oral history study. The second part of the study continues the results of the first part. It comprises both a theoretical and an analytical study of the literature and my own research experiences with a body-mind-art interactive data set regarding early childhood art education and its functional implementation. My first research uses Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological systems theory to explore viewa and actions of my own and others’ related to early childhood art education from 1980 to 2020. My second research task focuses on how early childhood art education manifests itself as a narrative model in Bronfenbrenner´s bioecological systems theory, Bruner’s theories of cultural psychological education and representation and Räsänen’s multi-sensory understanding of art knowledge. My third research task explores art pedagogy in early childhood education based on Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological theories and Bruner’s theories of narrative and practical thinking development and dialogic learning, representation theory as well as Vygotsky’s theory of proximal development zone and playfulness. I examine the art activity and skill set of early childhood art education and art learning based on Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological system theory, Brunner’s representation, and Vygotsky’s proximal-zone development theory. My fourth task combines the results of the second and third tasks into two models, an interactive narrative model of early childhood art education and an art pedagogical plot and story art model suitable for early childhood education based on Vygotsky´s views on play. My 1994 licentiate thesis in education provides the basic material for my autoethnographic research. I used the material compiled, but not processed, for the licentiate thesis statically and content-analytically in my dissertation. The former material includes interviews with children, parents, and employees in the mid- 1980 s and my own notes related to the practical implementation of art education in kindergartens and the views that guide it. I supplement the first research material by interviewing employees and children in kindergarten in the mid- 1980s and their parents in the spring of 2020. The latter material comprises the quantitative and quantitatively elaborated part of my licentiate thesis and an empirical analysis of the theoretical and research literature related to early childhood development and early childhood art education. In the first part of the research, I engage in a reflective and retrospectively reminiscent dialogue with my research data. I compare my research and the results I obtained with other research literature on early childhood art education completed between 1978 and 2020, either directly or closely related to it. I also examine expert discussion on the topic and the social decisions that influenced pre-school art education such as the day-care system, early and art education, and staff training. I transform the qualitative material I have collected into narrative episodes and place them in the structure of Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological systems theory and timewise between the 1980s and 2020. I study the chronological variation in the narratives. I examine my own actions and those of others’ and my experiential interpretation thereof, comparing them over time and reflecting on them. Although my licentiate thesis (1994) employs bioecological systems theory in macro-, exo-, meso-, and micro-environments and interaction among them, in the dissertion my reasoning focused on the most immediate microenvironment and describes my owing individual characteristics and child development and those of significant adults. By studying these, I was able to verify the various roles of children and adults in an art education event. Through this qualitative research and by transforming interviews into experiential mini-narratives, I produced a meta-narrative of the starting points and challenges of early childhood art education. It was a paradox narrative of change. While the children’s perspective and the individual’s positive conditions, especially those of their parents, such as attitudes, motivations, and skills regarding engagement in art education, strengthened over the period 1980– 2020, threats from external circumstances increased. These circumstances had a differentiating effect, thereby causing and maintaining inequality in art education in the micro-environment. Children remained on the level of art lovers, art no longer became an integral part of their lives. The planned co-operative roles of early childhood educators, parents and early childhood education workers as immediate art educator became random, depending on the situation. In the second part, I explore art knowledge and the skills of child´s yearly years. I do so with the help of both my previous research and other philosophical theoretical research literature suitable for my current theoretical frame of reference. With the constructive cultural framework of my research as a starting point, I examine what early childhood art education has to offer and what is worthwhile implemening. Based on Bruner’s theories of cultural psychological education and representation and Räsänen’s holistic conception of art knowledge, I study the child’s body-mind and the art entity. I begin by exploring bodymind personality and art as separate phenomena and knowledge attributes, actions, and skills. From this knowledge and skills, I compile a structure of early childhood art education, an art narrative model based on a constructive cultural frame of reference. Applying the theory of representation, I modify the model of spiral information acquisition and the narrative form realized for it through narrative and dialogical interaction. I place this in the environment of early childhood education and treat it as a everyday pedagogical practice, i.e. artistic play acting in accordance with Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development and concept of play. My many years of research materialize into the idea of the significant role of art education in early childhood education between home and hobby activities. The specifics of early childhood education are the group of children, play as the main activity of early childhood education, the narrative development of the child’s thinking and the significant role of the guiding adult and other children in the child’s zone of proximal developmental. In kindergarten, a child encounters the same children and adults daily and for several years. The activity includes a wide variety of encounters, short-lived and long-lasting, as well as changing and repeatedly similar. Key concepts: early education, art education, early education in music, visual arts, literature, word art, drama and theater, mental, motor, social, emotionaland early development of play, autoethnografic oral history research.
  • Huilla, Heidi (Helsingin yliopisto, 2022)
    In this doctoral dissertation, urban segregation and disadvantaged schools were examined. The main aim was to analyse how academically successful urban schools deal with socioeconomic disadvantage and what creates challenges for these encounters. The study is positioned in the fields of sociology of education, urban geography and school development studies, and consists of a summary and four sub-studies. The study continues the Bourdieusian research tradition, utilising the concept of institutional habitus. Schools are understood as parts of larger national and local contexts. Institutional habitus is defined as the school culture that has in its focus the interplay between the pupil base of the school, school practices and the collective meanings that are attached to these. The ethnographic data were produced during fieldwork in the mid-2010s in three primary schools in the Helsinki metropolitan area. The data consist of field notes written during 79 observation days and 70 interviews with school staff, pupils and parents. In addition, 69 scholarly articles were analysed for the first sub-study. The aim was to produce a theoretically generalisable understanding of urban schools and socioeconomic disadvantage. The main finding is that the institutional habitus of the three case schools and their pupils’ habitus are in alignment. Schools have a tendency to favour white middle class background pupils but there was an attempt to tackle this tendency in the schools in this study. It was also detected that disadvantaged schools encounter four challenging dilemmas. First, they need to encounter disadvantage and social problems while they also need to aim for respectful and fruitful co-operation with the families. In this, socioeconomic disadvantage and social class positions and life-styles were often unnecessarily mixed. Second, schools need to balance between support and demand. While they cannot give up on their pupils, if they demand too much, it might lead to severe consequences especially for the disadvantaged pupils. Third, schools need to project a good image, even when they need to discuss and describe problems realistically. This is because of the reputation game that schools need to take part in. Fourth, the work communities are simultaneously strong and fragile. While they create a sense of belonging and support to their staff, they exclude some. Disadvantaged schools need to solve these dilemmas in their everyday work, which creates a fifth dilemma: they need to deal with these challenges while they constantly need to develop and reflect on their practices and meaning making.

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