Faculty of Educational Sciences

 

Recent Submissions

  • Haataja, Eeva (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    Gaze is a crucial part of interaction. Teacher-student relationship is constructed on momentary classroom interactions. Recent eye-tracking research has charted some patterns of teacher gaze in classrooms, but the dynamics of the relation between teacher’s gaze and pedagogical intentions and teacher-student eye contact have remained unexplored. The aim of this dissertation was to explore how teachers’ momentary scaffolding intentions and interpersonal behaviors are manifested in their gaze behaviors and in momentary teacher-student eye-contact communication. The research setting included multiple mobile eye tracking in naturalistic classroom contexts. The studies combined data collected on three 9th-grade mathematics lessons: gaze data, video recordings, and an interview with one teacher. The students solved a problem collaboratively and the teachers guided the problem solving. This mixed method research combines theoretical and methodological traditions of psychology and education and creates new information on teacher-student interaction and analytical methods. To present the main findings, student faces and solution papers were the most significant gaze targets for the teacher. Student papers were the most significant target during teacher-led cognitive scaffolding interaction, and student faces during affective scaffolding. Students’ hands and bodies were a common target during metacognitive scaffolding. Teacher gazes at student gestures were few but very long and occurred often during cognitive scaffolding. The student-started eye contacts were significantly more frequent than teacher-started eye contacts. The occurrence and durations of the dyadic eye contacts were dependent on the teachers’ scaffolding intentions. The students tended to look their teacher in the eye during cognitive scaffolding. During affective scaffolding, the teacher-started eye contacts were relatively frequent. The students looked at their teacher during high teacher communion often and with long gazes. To conclude, during cognitive scaffolding interaction and teacher behaviors of high communion and agency, the student gazes focus on the teacher and teacher gazes on the learning content. During affective scaffolding, dyadic eye contacts often formed between the teacher and students. The between-individual and even within-individual variation of attentional behaviors underline using situational data collection methods and continuous coding and developing theories on scaffolding intentions and interpersonal behaviors toward the inclusion of the momentary variation in instructive interaction.
  • Yang, Dong (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    This doctoral study is an investigation of secondary school students’ situational engagement in a science Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) drawing on flow theory. Four research questions were asked: 1. How is secondary students’ online learning situational engagement predicted by the factors of self-efficacy, feeling-related interest, and value-related interest? 2.What influence do time and course contexts have on students’ level of situational engagement in an online learning environment? 3. What are the gender and grade differences in lower and upper secondary schools in terms of student’s reported situational engagement and related variables in a science MOOC environment? and 4. What are the aspects and themes that affect students’ situational engagement in a science MOOC environment? Based on these research questions, 15 hypotheses were formulated and tested. The main goal in this doctoral study is to describe and understand the context-dependent feature of situational engagement in an online learning environment. Situational engagement in this study was conceptualized using flow theory, under which interest, skills and challenges are the preconditions. To that end, a short MOOC on the topic of sustainable development and energy consumption was developed for a Finnish secondary school science class. Based on this, a mixed-method approach was applied, to answer the research questions. The research data consisted of survey data and qualitative data from a semi-structured interview. The data were collected in two metropolitan areas of Finland in 2018-2019. The survey participants comprised 193 secondary school students from three public schools, plus five students who participated in a semi-structured interview. The SPSS statistical software package was used for the analysis of survey data. Specifically, hierarchal regression analysis was performed to examine factors that predicted students’ situational engagement, and one-way repeated ANOVA was applied in order to see if there are fluctuations in the levels of situational engagement across all measurement points. Moreover, a series of Independent Sample T-test (two-tailed) were conducted to compare gender and grade differences in those variables. In analysing the interview data, a hybrid process of inductive and deductive thematic analysis was applied, with the focus being on the inductive approach, as proposed by Fereday and Muir-Cochrane (2006). Several findings were identified. First, while self-efficacy and value-related interest are positive predictors of MOOC learning situational engagement, feelings-related interest failed to affect students’ level of situational engagement. Second, students reported significantly different levels of situational engagement across all measurement points, and across different situations. Specifically, situations in which a teacher was explaining a concept/model seemed to be the most engaging situation to students. Based on this result, it proved the context-dependent feature of situational engagement in online learning. In terms of gender, significant differences were found only on self-efficacy in favouring boys. Grade-wise, significant differences were found on self-efficacy in favouring lower secondary school students, and on science knowledge in favouring upper secondary school students. Finally, the interviews revealed additional factors affecting situational engagement. Of these, interest in science; degree of autonomy; teachers and teaching style; and quality learning materials were among the factors that are important for online learning situational engagement. The contribution of the study and suggestions for future work were discussed accordingly.
  • Holm, Marja Eliisa (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    Mathematics learning should be viewed in behavioral and emotional levels. Adolescents might have problems directing, controlling and coordinating their behaviors, such as directing attention and planning tasks in advance. Such executive function (EF) problems might relate to mathematics learning. Adolescents might also experience enjoyment, pride, anger, anxiety, shame, hopelessness, and boredom in mathematics learning. Thus, such mathematics-related achievement emotions and EF problems among adolescents with mathematics difficulties and low mathematics performance should be investigated. Classroom mechanisms, such as teacher support, could relate to achievement emotions. So, it is important to investigate whether special education support is associated with adolescents’ achievement emotions. Such investigation will help generate support for adolescents’ mathematics learning. The three studies (I–III) constructing the current dissertation examined adolescents’ EF problems and mathematics-related achievement emotions. Study I examined EF problems, and study II examined emotions among adolescents with mathematics difficulties (the weakest 10%), low mathematics performance (low level 10–25%), and average or higher mathematics scores. Study III investigated relationships between special education support and emotions when controlling for mathematics performance, gender, and class size. Specifically, study III investigated emotions among adolescents receiving special education support in special education (self-contained) and in general mathematics classrooms. Study III also investigated whether the proportion of adolescents receiving special education support in general mathematics classrooms is associated with the emotions of those receiving no special education support. In study I, a teacher rating inventory was used to assess adolescents’ EF problems with distractibility, impulsivity, hyperactivity, directing attention, sustaining attention, shifting attention, initiative, planning, execution, and evaluation. In studies I and II, a student-reported questionnaire was used to assess mathematics-related enjoyment, pride, anger, anxiety, shame, hopelessness, and boredom. The results showed that adolescents with mathematics difficulties had more problems with several EFs and reported to experience less positive and more negative emotions than those with average or higher scores. However, the differences in hyperactivity, impulsivity, and boredom were not significant. Those with mathematics difficulties had even more problems with several EFs and reported more shame than those with low mathematics performance. Adolescents with low mathematics performance only had shifting attention problems but reported less positive and more negative emotions than those with average or higher scores. These results revealed that various EF problems, excluding hyperactivity and impulsivity, are typical of those with mathematics difficulties, while negative emotions were characteristic of both adolescents with mathematics difficulties and those with low mathematics performance. The results also showed that both females and males with mathematics difficulties had several EF problems, but there was gender variation in emotions across performance groups. Mainly females with mathematics difficulties reported negative emotions such as low pride and enjoyment and high hopelessness. Mainly males with low mathematics performance reported negative emotions such as high anger, anxiety, and hopelessness. The results also showed that adolescents receiving special education support in general mathematics classrooms reported less positive and more negative emotions than those receiving special education support in self-contained classrooms. Even adolescents receiving no special education support reported more anxiety, hopelessness, and boredom when the proportion of classmates receiving special education support was higher in general classrooms. The results suggest that both males and females with mathematics difficulties need comprehensive support for EF problems. Adolescents with mathematics difficulties and low performance also need comprehensive support for achievement emotions. In fact, the results indicated that special education support in self-contained classrooms might be a central way to support the achievement emotions of adolescents struggling with mathematics. In turn, special education support in general classrooms did not necessarily support achievement emotions. To implement inclusion (i.e., serving all students in general classrooms) educators and policymakers should develop practical solutions that support the achievement emotions of students in general classrooms.
  • Kesler, Merike (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    The school is expected to support the future skills of the pupils. Central to this is the development of pupils’ problem-solving skills, so that they learn to understand the processes of creating something new and acting creatively. In order for teachers to be able to guide the learners’ innovative activities, it is important that teachers themselves have a broad understanding and skills related to these processes. In this educational development study carried out during 2012–2019, a pedagogical model based on the creative problem-solving method is presented. The aim of the model is to promote teacher students and in-service teachers’ perceptions of the development of creativity and creative problem-solving, guiding the problem-solving process, and the diverse interactions that take place in it. The study focuses on teacher students’ perceptions of creative problem solving and the examination of the problem-solving process, what kind of learning experiences teacher students describe when their learning is supported by a problem-solving approach, and how in-service teachers understand the connection between the pedagogical model and guiding the pupils’ innovative processes. Based on the results of the analysis, teacher students’ perceptions of creative problem solving changed after the course from passive knowledge about solutions and creativity to active agency, methodologies and the process. The step-by-step process based on the pedagogical model made the process clear and transparent. The most important background factor for transparency was the feedback received from peers and the lecturer during the process. According to the analysis, being allowed to make choices in the problem-solving process and seeing the process leading to output is related to commitment and thus to motivation and learning. However, only a process in which the pupil is involved in all its stages, including planning and goal setting, is relevant to the pupil and allows going deeper, leading to the pupils’ commitment. However, the results also suggest that there seem to be a number of barriers to the use of creative problem-solving methods in teaching, such as not being familiar with or able to use them, or that they only promote learning for some students, lack of time or attitude towards the practice of using problem-solving tools in teaching. The research also provides new insights into the guidance of problem-solving processes and how these processes can be used to support learning and the development of thinking skills. However, in-service teachers raised concerns regarding guidance not being valued as much in school as teaching. Research has shown that methods and models that focus not only on solving a problem, but also on the people who solve the problem are important in teaching.
  • Intke-Hernandez, Minna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    This dissertation examines what kind of language socialization migrant mothers encounter in their everyday lives and interrelationships. Some full-time integration training programs aim to develop migrants’ linguistic competence and provide them with the opportunity to gain full and equal membership of Finnish society. However, many migrant mothers are not able to participate, as their lives centre around home and family during their first years in Finland. Through the mothers’ language stories and interactional situations observed by the researcher, this study investigated motherhood as a site of language socialization. The philosophical approach in this dissertation is Freirean pedagogic, which underlines the learner’s subjectivity and the importance of the dialogic nature of constructing knowledge. Theoretically, this research drew on an ecological approach to language learning and a sociocognitive framework. It sees language as social actions, social practices and linguistic and semiotic resources. The methodological framework of the study was nexus analysis, which is an ethnographic and multi-methodological research strategy. The data were generated ethnographically in Helsinki’s metropolitan area in an open daycare centre and in the mothers’ everyday contexts during 2012–2018. The data consisted of interviews, observations, fieldnotes, audio-recorded interaction situations and photographs taken by one mother and the researcher. The findings of the four sub-studies are reported in four research articles. They show that the social, emotional and linguistic support that the mothers receive provide them with a sense of belonging, language socialization opportunities and languaging possibilities. Migrant mothers regarded the managing situations and pastime situations that they participate in, such as public events, open family activity groups and literal and social media contexts, as relevant for their language socialization. These situations were multimodal. The linguistic material provided in the pastime situations was more specific than in the managing situations. In the pastime situations, the linguistic expert, that is, the person who knew more Finnish, offered more and richer linguistic support than in the managing situations, in which deictic language was used and the interaction was mainly based on material and visual surroundings. The research suggests that motherhood and its social contexts provide empowering language socialization opportunities because children create situations in which mothers have to engage in languaging. The most important social goal of this research was to recognize the language socialization opportunities that everyday life offers. When we become aware of these, they can be used outside of formal educational contexts in different areas of life, for example, when organizing family activities.
  • Harju, Vilhelmiina (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    In this doctoral dissertation, I investigate the needs of beginning teachers for support in professional development. The first aim is to examine, how support needs are experienced by new teachers in four European countries: Finland, England, Portugal, and Flanders (in Belgium). The second aim is to examine how Finnish beginning teachers and principals experience early-career teaching support needs. In the study, teaching is considered to be a profession with widening responsibilities in schools and society. Along with this assumption, a theoretical framework is built upon the concepts of professional competence and continuously developing expertise. These elements are considered to be integral parts of teachers’ work that influence their support needs at the beginning of their careers. The dissertation consists of three sub-studies that were carried out as part of a European-funded Erasmus+ Key Action 2 project. The first sub-study examined the essential support needs and the support need profiles among beginning teachers in four European countries. The second sub-study focused on investigating the topic from the perspective of Finnish principals in particular. The third sub-study combined the viewpoints of Finnish beginning teachers and principals. A mixed methods approach was used in the dissertation. The data were collected via an electronic questionnaire, and quantitative and qualitative methods were used to obtain a more comprehensive understanding of the phenomena related to the support needs of beginning teachers. The results of this dissertation show that the support needs of beginning teachers are simultaneously individual and common. They are partly connected to certain professional tasks, practices, or challenges of teachers’ work, but at the same time are linked to the wider processes of developing routine and adaptive expertise. The identified support needs also reflect the complex and broad requirements and challenges set for the teaching profession today. Furthermore, the results suggest that the focus of beginning teachers is not on themselves but rather on students’ learning and on collaboration in the school community. In particular, the results from both the transnational and Finnish contexts indicate that supporting students’ comprehensive individual growth, differentiating teaching, and acting in conflict situations are a key area of support. In total, three broad perspectives of support needs are identified: (1) supporting students’ comprehensive individual growth, (2) working in the school community, and (3) developing one’s own work. These are all part of the wider process of developing expertise that can be understood as a holistic continuum of professional development relating to the teaching profession. To conclude, the present doctoral dissertation finds that beginning teachers’ support needs are related to several aspects of professional competence, suggesting that, at the beginning of a teaching career, professional development occurs simultaneously across several dimensions of professional competence. Support needs are strongly related to the characteristics of the teaching profession, as well as to practices in schools, and their complexity and context- and time-specificity must be considered when planning and implementing support activities for beginning teachers.
  • Oinas, Sanna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    Technology-enhanced feedback (TEF) is studied mostly in terms of task performance, but there is a limited amount of evidence about TEF related to learning and behaviour during school lessons. However, this type of feedback delivered using predefined options has been used on a daily basis in education for the last twenty years. As feedback may have beneficial but also detrimental effects on cognitive and emotional processing, this study was conducted to evaluate the relations of TEF with learning and academic well-being of pupils. Teachers’ practices and pupils’ perceptions were studied by analysing three data sets with mixed methods. The four sub-studies of this thesis were conducted in a Finnish context. However, the results are also internationally valuable, as there are dozens of educational platforms throughout the world enabling TEF, which may have a powerful effect on our children. The first data were reported in sub-studies I and II. The data consisted of 211,003 authentic TEF -notes drawn directly from the online platform. Results revealed that, based on profile analysis, teachers deliver feedback using different patterns for their pupils (N=7,811) even in a single teaching group. Small groups of boys and pupils needing extra support for their studies were likely to receive more negative feedback compared to other groups. However, the great majority of all TEF was positive in content. The second data of pupils’ (N=2,031) self-reported TEF used in the sub-study III confirmed the findings from the first data. Furthermore, the relations between received TEF and indicators measuring learning and academic well-being were studied. According to the results, the more positive feedback pupils received, the higher they rated their motivation, competence and relationship with teachers. Interestingly, those pupils who reported that they never receive TEF perceived their indicators measuring learning and academic well-being as the weakest. The third data consisting of interviews (N=64) and a short questionnaire (N=132) were analysed in sub-study IV. Data analysed with qualitative methods showed that pupils were mainly contented with this feedback. They reported that they need remarks from teacher in order to regulate their behaviour, as they considered it important at school. Moreover, pupils reported experiencing a variety of both pleasant and unpleasant emotions in relation to TEF. It was concluded that TEF, delivered mainly related to behaviour, is related to pupils’ learning and academic well-being. For some pupils, such feedback can be motivating, but for others it can be frustrating or even represent a silent sign of being ignored. Therefore, guidelines should be formed in order to support pupils’ learning and well-being equally in terms of TEF. Finally, based on the results of this study, a model of a digital feedback process building up from self-regulated learning and feedback as a process is proposed. The model suggests that by regulating cognitive and affective processes consciously, pupils can actively seek and take advantage of TEF themselves. First, however, they need to be supported to develop their self-regulation in collaboration with the teacher.
  • Saariaho-Räsänen, Emmi (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    The aim of this doctoral dissertation is to provide new insights into the dynamics of class student teachers’ self- and co-regulated learning in the critical and meaningful learning incidents experienced along their study path. The doctoral dissertation consists of three original studies. In the first two studies the focus was on student teachers’ self- and co-regulated learning activities (Study I) and the academic emotions embedded in them (Study II) during their studies. Student teachers’ and pupils’ co-regulated learning behaviours in authentic classroom interaction in teaching practicums were investigated in Study III. In the dissertation, a qualitative driven approach in which content analysis was used was enriched by quantifying of the qualitative findings. The student teacher cohort in Studies I and II consisted of 19 primary school student teachers who were at the end of their study path and from whom the semi-structured interview data with retrospective narration and visualisations on the critical learning incidents experiences during their studies were collected. In Study III the student teacher cohort consisted of video recordings of 43 primary school student teachers who were in different phases of their studies conducting some of the teaching practicum periods belonging to their teacher studies. The critical incidents (one positively perceived and one negatively) student teacher had chosen from the video was analysed. The findings from Study I showed that student teachers’ adapted active self- and co-regulated learning activities in especially positively experienced learning incidents. The regulated learning phases were balanced within and between self- and co-regulated learning. Self-regulated learning activities were adapted in courses calling for individual responsibility in learning (e.g., Thesis seminars) and co-regulated learning emphasised in teaching practicums and courses in which teacher educators had created a supportive yet challenging learning enviroment, i.e. constructive friction for teacher learning. Although co-regulated learning activities were reported less often than self-regulated activities, were they overall perceived highly significant and instructive experiences in terms of teacher learning. The findings from Study II showed that the majority of student teachers’ self- and co-regulated learning activities included positive and activating academic emotions across all regulated learning phases. Enthusiasm and enjoyment were the most commonly reported academic emotions in both self- and co-regulated learning activities. Three main triggers of academic emotions in self- and co-regulated activities were found: 1) facing challenges, 2) social support, and 3) innovative learning and knowledge construction. In co-regulated learning incidents, all three triggers were typically found, whereas in self-regulated learning was commonly one of the triggers emphasised. The findings from Studies I and II triggered a closer examination of student teachers’ co-regulated learning in the environment that was reported as being highly meaningful in terms of teacher learning, i.e., teaching practicums. The results in Study III showed that positively -perceived co-regulated learning incidents embedded in student teachers’ and pupils’ classroom interaction included more frequently, more proactive, and more varied co-regulated learning behaviours than the negatively perceived incidents. Also, verbal and non-verbal co-regulated behaviours were intertwined. In positively perceived incidents behaviours were typically calm and concentrated, whereas in negatively perceived incidents, behaviours were restless and tensed. Furthermore, positively perceived incidents including co-regulated learning behaviours could be found at the beginning and in the middle of lessons and on on-task phases, whereas negatively perceived behaviours were typically transitional situations between tasks. Accordingly, findings revealed that in positively -experienced learning incidents, student teachers’ and pupils’ co-regulated behaviours focused on the task, but in negatively perceived incidents, the focus was more on task-management. This dissertation contributes to the literature on self- and co-regulation in teacher learning by a) offering new insights on how student teachers’ regulate their own and others’ learning throughout their study path; b) proposing that student teachers’ active self- and co-regulation of learning and positive academic emotions are closely related; c) giving fresh insights into the dynamic nature of co-regulated learning as a mediating process when learning how to regulate oneself and others; and d) by examining student teachers’ and pupils’ actual co-regulated learning behaviours in authentic classroom interaction during teaching practicums.
  • Mertanen, Katariina (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    In this dissertation, I scrutinise how the ‘youth problem’—young people’s unemployment, social exclusion, and marginalisation—is governed in the European Union’s and Finland’s youth policies and youth policy implementation in Finland. The ‘youth problem’ as well as young people ‘at risk’ are constructed as a threat to the unity and prosperity of future life in the workforce and social cohesion. To tackle the ‘youth problem’, both the EU and Finland have launched multiple policy initiatives and implementations such as short-term projects to get young people ‘back’ into the workforce and undertake in education and training. These ranges of implementations include EU-wide policy measures, such as the Youth Guarantee and calls in Finland for centralised services for youth guidance and counselling. In my dissertation, I have analysed both national and EU policy documents along with interviews and observations produced with teachers, other employees, and young people in short-term education programmes in a closed prison, and in two One-stop Guidance Centres for young people. I ask how the ‘youth problem’ is governed in youth policies and their implementations, and what rationalities are involved in the governing of the ‘youth problem’. This dissertation includes three research articles and a summary report. As the methodology of this study I developed a discursive reading of policies and their implementations as problematisations. Reading discourses as problematisation draws inspiration from Carol Bacchi, that policies are simultaneous representations of desired futures from the policy maker’s point of view and representing a ‘problem’ that disrupts this desired future. By applying Michel Foucault’s theorisations about discourses, power, subjectification, and governing I have been able to study youth policies and their implementations as discursive practices. In youth policies, these discursive practices are legitimised in normative discourses based on political rationalities. Similarly, these discursive practices can be found in policy implementations by offering certain types of subjectivities for those young people they are targeting. Furthermore, these discursive practices in policies and their implementations produce several different ‘problems’ of young people that carry inherent assumptions about young people’s situations, properties, and abilities. In my results, I suggest that young people are produced as ‘at risk’ of social exclusion and marginalisation with discourses of employability, precariousness, and therapisation in youth policies and their implementations. The label ‘at risk’ produces a well-intentioned response, in which governing takes shape in skill-based behavioural training derived from employability and therapisation of youth formal and informal education. These skills include emotional and life-management skills. Discourses of employability, precariousness, and therapisation have a common premise: not being excluded or marginalised are synonymous with signs of visible and measurable activities, such as participating in education and training. Discourses in youth policies and their implementations both rely on and produce neoliberal political rationality along with paternalistic rationality, which promotes care and control of young people. Although seemingly contradictory, these rationalities work together in a plethora of ways. The arrangement and governing of youth policies and their implementations are constructed in a way in which vast networks of governmental, private and non-governmental organisations come together in short-term programmes and projects offered to young people, and in which young people are positioned as customers and expected to choose ‘right’ options for their situations. Yet, the ways in which young people are governed in these programmes rely on paternalistic rationality through which young people are seen not to be mature and insightful enough to know what is best for them and their future, and thus need strict discipline and guidance to move ‘forward’ in life. Finally, I conclude in this dissertation, that the whole notion of the ‘youth problem’ is based on the ideal of an economically productive citizen, who through a measurable input during their working life or from education provides continuity for the society as a whole. The notion of young people as a future is not only attached to the future hopes of young people themselves, but rather to the hopes and predictions of a range of governing bodies, such as the European Commission or the Finnish Government. In this way, multiple societal issues including poverty and unemployment are channelled to be young people’s ‘problems’, which can be solved by guiding those young people as individuals. In the governing of the ‘youth problem’ in youth policies and their implementations, young people have mainly instrumental value – their lives and futures are measured in relation to the narrow view of ‘good life’ as productive, obeying, and tax-paying future citizen. ________________________________________ Keywords: youth policy, governing, discourse, ‘youth problem’
  • Ikonen, Essi (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    Authenticity is a pervasive ideal in western societies. Educators, among others, regard authenticity with increased enthusiasm. Authenticity is certainly appealing. Who would not want to be authentic rather than inauthentic? Who would not want to educate one’s children to become authentic? Yet, as attractive as it is, do we truly apprehend the nature of authenticity? How are we to detect an authentic person from an inauthentic one? Who is to decide which instances are authentic and which are not? The literature of authenticity offers us abundance of views and definitions, but no unanimous clarity. The challenges increase when trying to circumscribe educational authenticity. If it is unclear what authenticity is, how are we to understand educational authenticity? What happens if we try to promote authenticity as a curricular subject? Is it possible? This phenomenological investigation grabs ahold of the nature of authenticity and its possibilities and challenges in education. Key questions include, what is authenticity and what makes it unique, what it is related to, and what makes it possible? In relation to learning, to what extent and with what kind of tools can it be promoted in educational institutions? Finally, what are the most promising pathways to investigate authenticity? How can we better understand the human condition through philosophic and human sciences, with authenticity as a metaphor or as a mantra? Here, various methodologies and schools of thought are explored and utilized, including the sociologically based approaches of qualitative research, including autoethnography and post-qualitative methodologies, and philosophic approaches, especially phenomenology. In answering these questions this investigation travels through various fields, methodologies and also, planes in the researcher’s personal life with an aim to establish a personal connection with themes and questions under investigation. The reader is invited to do the same, to connect and disconnect, and to take a stance on what authenticity or doing research means at the moment, but also, what could it mean beyond now. Rather than improving the definitions of authenticity this investigation shows that the beauty and appeal of authenticity lies somewhere else than in its potential for clarifying, measuring or categorizing. Hence, the conclusions for educators do not include programs or steps for authentic education but merely an invitation to employ love and imagination in their own lives and with their students.
  • Zhang, Junfeng (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    The mindset has been one of the most debated topics in educational and psychological setting today, but little is known how the cultural differences are associated with the perceptions and how they are related to individuals' behaviours patterns in a cross-cultural context. This dissertation examines mindsets in learning among Chinese and Finnish students and teachers. It comprises four sub-studies. The theoretical study (Study Ⅰ) explores the role of mindset in learning among students and teachers by means of synthesising and compiling previous relevant literature. The three empirical studies II, III and IV, which are based on data collected from teachers and students, focus on how mindsets affect patterns of academic behaviour. Study Ⅱ investigates the ways in which the mindsets of students predict their academic achievement by influencing the factors to which success is attributed. Study Ⅲ examines the giving of peer feedback among adolescents at school, and how the feedback affects students’ mindsets and their academic motivation to learn. Study Ⅳ explores the relations between teachers’ mindsets and their pedagogical strategies. All three empirical studies adopt a comparatively cross-national perspective, namely comparing Chinese and Finnish participants. The literature review (Study I) is based on twenty-two articles published between 1998 and 2017 focusing on the association between mindset and academic achievement. The three empirical studies that follow are based on data collected from 1,862 students and 127 teachers in two Chinese and two Finnish state schools. More specifically, Study Ⅱ, which is based on Dweck’s mindset inventory and Weiner’s attribution scales, was conducted in one Chinese (N = 705) and two Finnish (N = 495) middle schools. By means of multiple-group structural equation modelling (SEM), Study Ⅲ investigates the influence of peer feedback on mindsets and academic motivation among fourth-to-ninth-grade students. Finally, Study Ⅳ explores the mindsets of selected Chinese and Finnish teachers and their pedagogical strategies from the perspective of praise and goal orientation. It could be inferred from the literature review (Study I) that students’ mindset can function as a cause, a mediator and an outcome related to their academic achievement or mindset is without an evident role, whereas among teachers the mindset functions as a cause and a mediator. Empirical results (Studies II, III, IV) indicate both culture-invariant and culture-dependent features in students’ and teachers’ mindsets. In line with the culture-invariant results: 1) Majority of the students have a growth mindset, and attribute their academic achievements to both effort and ability, with an emphasis on the former; 2) Person praise given by students to their peers reflects their fixed mindset and negative academic motivation, whereas process-related praise undermines avoidance orientation in academic motivation; 3) Majority of the teachers have a growth mindset. With regard to culture-dependent aspects: 1) Chinese students do not differentiate between the concepts of intelligence and giftedness as clearly as Finnish students do, and their emphasis on effort significantly accounts for higher language-related grades, whereas Finnish students with fixed mindsets about giftedness achieve higher grades in mathematics; 2) Chinese students prefer to give process-related and person praise, the former reflecting not only their growth mindset but also their positive academic motivation, whereas Finnish students favour neutral praise and have stronger negative academic motivation; 3) Chinese and Finnish teachers differ in their preferred pedagogical strategies even though they have mainly the same growth mindset, such that Finnish teachers utilise growth-mindset pedagogy whereas Chinese teachers seem to apply mixed strategies reflecting both growth and fixed mindsets. The theoretical review (Study I), which is part of the current study, is the first to explore the role of mindsets in learning, thereby enriching the existing research. The empirical studies (Studies II, III, IV) give constructive suggestions concerning how educators could support the intellectual development and academic growth of learners. Teachers and parents should foster a growth mindset in children and encourage them to value effort and to give process-related feedback to their peers. Thus, it is not enough merely to teach mindset theory at schools. It is equally important to design educational interventions concerning the attribution of performance and giving feedback to peers. The need for education in mindset theory and pedagogical intervention also applies to pre-service and in-service teacher education.
  • Saarinen, Aino (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    In the recent years, a decline in Finnish students’ learning outcomes has been reported in several investigations, such as in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). Further, variance in learning outcomes between students coming from different backgrounds has increased in Finland. This dissertation investigated (i) whether self-directed learning practices, use of digital learning materials at school, and participation in early education and care (ECEC) are associated with students’ learning outcomes at 15 years of age and (ii) whether these associations are modified by students’ background factors. The participants (N=5660, 5037, and 4634 in Studies I‒III) came from the Finnish PISA 2012 and 2015 datasets that constitute a representative sample of the Finnish 15-year-old students. Learning outcomes in reading, mathematical, and scientific literacy and collaborative problemsolving were evaluated with a comprehensive set of standardized tests. The frequency of learning practices (student-oriented, inquiry-based, and teacher-directed practices, and use of digital learning materials at school) were evaluated with questionnaires fulfilled by students. Participation in ECEC was evaluated with age at entry into ECEC. Background factors under investigation included gender, repetition of a grade, truancy behavior at school, family wealth, maternal education, single-parent family, and immigrant status. The data were analyzed with structural equation models that were controlled for age, gender, and parents’ socioeconomic status (the index of economic, social, cultural status). Frequent use of self-directed teaching practices or digital learning materials at school were associated with students’ weaker learning outcomes in several knowledge domains. Instead, frequenct teacher-directed practices were related to students’ higher learning outcomes. Moreover, frequent use of self-directed teaching practices or digital learning materials had more negative impact on students’ learning outcomes in students with (vs. without) risky background. Additionally, participation in ECEC before preschool was not associated with learning outcomes at 15 years of age. This association was not significantly moderated by parental socioeconomic status (as measured with the index of ESCS). At a trend level, the impact of participation in ECEC before preschool was slightly more positive for offspring of parents with high (vs. low) socioeconomic status. In conclusion, some pedagogical practices within the school system, such as frequent use of self-directed learning practices or digital learning material, were found to increase variance in learning outcomes between students coming from different backgrounds in Finland. No evidence was found that participation in ECEC would be related to learning outcomes at 15 years of age or would increase equality between students coming from different family backgrounds.
  • Liu, Haiqin (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    During the past decade, the demographic changes brought about by international mobility have diversified education in Finland. One type of diversification is the increasing number of teachers of immigrant background. However, how immigrant teachers experience the Finnish educational system has not yet been amongst the topics of full-scale academic research (Nishimura-Sahi, Wallin & Eskola, 2017). There is an emerging need to address this research gap by giving voice to immigrant teachers who are rarely heard. This doctoral thesis sets out to investigate the experiences and perceptions of immigrant teachers working in Finland, taking Chinese immigrant teachers of the Chinese language as a case study. The findings of this PhD study are presented in the form of three academic publications and an extended summary. The first article looks into the social discourses on Finnish education in general and Chinese language education in particular, that could potentially influence immigrant Chinese teachers’ presumptions and expectations about being a Chinese language teacher in Finland. The first article forms the background of the doctoral study. The second article and the third article examine the intercultural experiences and the perceptions of Chinese immigrant teachers in Finland. The second article reveals the multiple facets of immigrant teachers’ experiences which are connected to how the teachers perceive their positions in Finland. The third article examines the teachers’ cross-national comparisons on Chinese language education, which also reveal how the teachers perceive their positions in comparison with colleagues working in another context. The findings in all of the three publications suggest a strong link between experiences, perceptions and intercultural imaginations, as well as constructed discourses. The findings of this doctoral study lead to both theoretical and practical implications. Theoretically, a new model for understanding the experiences of immigrant teachers was developed. This model takes into account the multiple facets of immigrant teachers’ experiences, the power relations in the context under review and their influence on intercultural imagination and discourses. Practically, the findings suggested that 1) stakeholders should listen to the needs and concerns of immigrant teachers and provide equal treatment to all kinds of teachers; 2) regular continued professional development training plays a very important role in helping teachers to update their subject knowledge and teaching skills, but also in providing opportunities for all types of teachers to learn together; 3) intercultural teacher education and training should also help the teachers to become aware of the ongoing discourses, and reflect critically on their own cultural assumptions.
  • Maaperä, Ilona (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    CONSENT, ENGAGEMENT AND THE SENSE OF COMMUNITY The Educational Activities of The Settlement Movement in Helsinki 1920–1939 This doctoral dissertation focuses on the educational activities of the Finnish Settlement Movement in Kalliola Settlement in Helsinki between 1920 and 1939. Kalliola Civic Institute, a part of the settlement, concentrated in educating the working class living in Helsinki. The theoretical base of this thesis relies on the concepts of consent and engagement. I study how consent was created and maintained. I study the work of Kalliola Settlement and especially the work of its civic institute and the clubs for children and youngsters. I look at the whole process of governing, with a special interest in the role of Christian faith in the work and as the motivator of the work. This study is based on data preserved in Helsinki City Archives: action reports, registration forms, minutes of meetings, diaries, instructions and financial details. In the settlement the governing was constructed by personal interaction and the sense of community. In building up this community and its governing system the settlement used many methods: indoctrination for the younger ones, softer influencing for the adults. The settlement had a large number of regular meetings, which helped to control all the activities of the settlement. The sense of community was enhanced in many ways. An individual could spend almost all his or her leisure time in the settlement. An important feature was the students’ union, which arranged regular parties and meetings. There were a lot of religious activities to attend. The participants had a total freedom of choice. One did not have to be a member of the organization – as a result it was probably easier for a worker to try for example religious activities as there was no coercion of doing that. The activities of the settlement movement differed from other organizations doing the same. The work of the settlement comprised all ages of man, from children to adults. There were Sunday schools and clubs for children, educational courses for adults, an organization inside the settlement doing social work and a wide variety of options for spending one´s leisure time. All these were important for the totality of the settlement. The civic institute offered education, but it was also an important passage to the other functions of the settlement. Other similar institutes called workers' institutes emphasized a scientific base for their teaching. The settlement wanted to offer an option which took into account even the spiritual, religious needs of its students. The founders of the settlement had a religious conviction for their work. The work of the settlement was supported by society. The most important financiers were industrial companies, who willingly supported work whose aim was to ensure the peaceful development of society in the difficult situation after the civil war. The church financed the settlement, because it was interested in maintaining its role in the lives of the workers. The civic institute also had a role for the financing, it got state aid. The governing system worked well in the beginning. Gradually the workers disappeared and were substituted by middle class women doing office work. In this process the hold of the settlement started to loosen, the students were no longer willing to comply with the system and spend their whole leisure time in the settlement.
  • From, Tuuli (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    This study considers questions related to language policy, space and power in the context of co-located Finnish- and Swedish-speaking schools in Finland and a bilingual Sweden Finnish school in Sweden. Finland is an officially bilingual country with Finnish and Swedish as national languages, and basic education is organised separately for both language groups. In consequence, the Swedish-speaking schools in Finland are monolingual and there are no bilingual schools providing education in both Finnish and Swedish. The separation of the national languages in the educational system of Finland has been pointed out in societal and scientific debate as protecting the vitality of Swedish in Finland. At the same time, the lack of bilingual schools has been increasingly presented as problematic with regard to promoting linguistic diversity and language learning. However, along with the Finnish municipalities’ recent tendency to co-locate educational institutions in shared facilities, co-locations of monolingual Finnish- and Swedish-speaking schools have become more common. In co-located school campuses, Finnish- and Swedish-speaking schools share the school facilities but function as separate administrative units and engage in mutual activities if they wish. In Sweden, Finnish has been officially recognised as a national minority language since 2000. The present language and education legislation provides the pupils with a Finnish background the right to use and develop their language and cultural identity in education. However, the problems related to the realisation of bilingual education for the Sweden Finns have been extensively pointed out. Bilingual education in Finnish and Swedish is organised for the most part outside the public school system in independent Sweden Finnish schools, whose availability in Sweden is increasingly restricted. The study is informed by critical and post-structuralist notions on the study of language and language policies, as well as theorisations of space and spatiality taking shape particularly in the fields of critical and cultural geography. The spatiality of language policies is framed and approached through the following questions: what kinds of meanings is space given in educational language policy discourses? How do national language policies participate in the construction of spatial orders in institutional education? What kinds of subject positions are available to the actors in these spatial orders and how are these positions negotiated in the everyday lives of educational institutions? In this dissertation, language policies are conceptualised as multi-sited; as ideologies, language planning and language practices that operate in multiple dimensions of space and time. A specific interest is the negotiation of language policies in daily school life and the spatial orders they contribute to. Therefore, the overall methodological framework of this dissertation is ethnographic. The ethnographic data was generated at various sites: co-located primary and high school campuses in Finland and a bilingual Sweden Finnish school in Sweden. The data consists of participant observations, video recordings, interviews with school staff and photo-elicitation interviews with pupils. Moreover, the first article, utilises data consisting of texts published in Finnish newspapers as well as staff interviews from other co-located school campuses in Finland. The analysis of the ethnographic data is contextualised in contemporary education and language policies in Finland and Sweden. This dissertation consists of three articles and a summary part. The first article analyses the discourses and practices related to the spatial separation of the national languages in the educational system of Finland by introducing the concept of cultural space. The second article examines the recognition of linguistic value and the spatiality of linguistic resources in language policy discourse and the everyday practices of co-located and bilingual schools. The third article scrutinises the interplay between spatial ideologies and spatial practices in the context of language and education by analysing how the premise of language separation is conceptualised, managed and negotiated in co-located schools in Finland and the bilingual school in Sweden. The findings indicate that spatial ideologies were present in many ways in how language policies were discussed and practiced in the schools studied. Space was understood as symbolic, material, political and strategic. Particularly in the context of minority language education, space was ascribed meanings that reflected the felt linguistic power relations and their management. The premise of language management was a rather conventional understanding of languages as countable and bounded entities, whose hierarchies were defined along with national language policies. The physical school space and its possession was typically presented by the school staff as a precondition for the protection of a minority language. Moreover, language and education policies were seen as crucial in providing spatial autonomy for minority language speakers. However, like the language agendas, the premises and goals of spatial language management varied among the co-located schools and the bilingual school. In Finland, the reconstruction of a Swedish-speaking school space was understood as a spatial ideology established in the institutions, whereas in Sweden the Finnish-speaking spaces were considered to be repeatedly reconstructed by the educators through the daily spatial practices. In the Swedish-speaking school in Finland, the spatial management was framed by the presence of the Finnish-speaking school as a potential threat, which also seemed to strengthen the underlying norm of monolingualism and the ideal of a monolingual space. However, this study also shows that co-located campuses can be considered as sites in which the premise of linguistic and spatial separation of the national languages in education is challenged and re-negotiated. In the co-located campuses of this study, pupils and students displayed awareness of the language boundaries constructed through the separation of physical space and educational practices. The separation seemed to cause alienation between the pupils and students in these schools but resistance to the linguistic and cultural categories was also articulated and practised. In the Sweden Finnish school in Sweden, the shortcomings in language and minority policies were pointed out by the educators as threatening the position of Finnish in the Swedish educational system. The policies were understood as having failed to provide physical and symbolic spaces for Finnish in Swedish society, of which the unpredictable situation of bilingual schools being seen as a consequence. The ethnographic observations show that in addition to the shortcomings in minority and language policies, the present marketisation of education policies had tangible implications for the everyday life of the Sweden Finnish school. The representations related to Finnish in Sweden seem to be changing but were still classed and devaluing in places, which, according to the ethnographic data, seemed to hinder the recognition of Finnish as a right and a resource. This, in turn, might complicate the successful operation of Sweden Finnish independent schools. In the co-located schools in Finland, by contrast, the established societal position and cultural value related to Swedish in Finland was reflected in how the spatial autonomy of Swedish-speaking schools was treated. This study concludes that observing language policies through their spatial dimension in language policy discourses as well as in educational practice enables a more profound understanding of their connection to equality and difference-making in education. ________________________________________ Keywords: language policy, spatiality, language minorities, bilingual school, co-located school, ethnography
  • Sairanen, Heidi (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    This socioculturally-framed doctoral dissertation focuses on understanding and researching agency in early years pedagogy from the perspective of both children and teachers in Finnish early childhood education (ECE), pre-primary education and early primary education. In the study, agency is understood as a relational activity and underscores the interactional nature of agency that is constructed into being between people, environment and cultural resources in context. This understanding of agency has been applied in three independent studies that uncover the relational nature of agency (respectively) in children transitioning from pre-primary education to primary education (Study 1); in teachers’ work whilst creating the early years pedagogy according to the new Finnish national core curriculum recommendations on the enhancement of children’s multiliteracies (Study 2); and finally, in the interactions between children and teachers in everyday ECE practices (Study 3). This doctoral dissertation consists of three sub-studies published as articles and a summary. Study 1 is an investigation of children’s (aged 5–7 years) sense of agency across time and space through a framework of modalities of agency. The methodological approach applied in the study drew on visual ethnography that afforded the children with multimodal tools to express and make meaning of their agency in the context of their educational transition. The study makes visible the sociocultural resources that mediated the children’s sense of agency in transition from pre-primary education to primary education. Study 2 is an investigation of agency between two ECE teachers and two pre-primary teachers when they designed and conducted multiliteracy pedagogy in accordance with new curriculum requirements. The analysis of the teachers’ interviews (video and audio data) makes it evident how the open curriculum, along with the teachers’ professional skills and enthusiasm for pedagogical design, were associated with their agency. Study 3 had as its focus an investigation of children’s initiatives and ECE teachers’ responses in the everyday life of the ECE classroom as a means to understand how children’s agency is relationally facilitated or hindered. A detailed interaction analysis of the video data of children’s (n=8) and teachers’ (n=2) interaction revealed several modes through which the children communicated their initiatives and how teachers responded to these initiatives, thereby resulting in the creation of an analytical typology of agency. The results revealed adult-child relationships that give rise to a range of opportunities for children’s agency from the relational perspective. Overall, the results in this doctoral dissertation contribute to early years pedagogy in Finnish education by revealing how agency is relationally constructed in sociocultural contexts across children, teachers, and the socio-material and cultural environment. This study introduces potential visual and participatory methods to investigate agency in the everyday lives of young children and their teachers in contextually and culturally sensitive ways. These methods also have the potential to guide teachers’ pedagogical work in the early years. In addition, the results show the importance of examining the power relations and roles between children and teachers in early years pedagogy and how they should be reflected upon and revised if necessary. Examining and (re)building early years pedagogy with children and teachers creates opportunities for relational agency in which both children and teachers can be empowered. The results bring new knowledge for pedagogical efforts, the aim of which is to recognise and enhance children’s agency in early years education. When developing pedagogy, the aim of which is to support agency, it is important to concentrate on listening to both children and teachers, and acknowledging children’s initiatives. ________________________________________ Keywords: Relational agency, early childhood education, pre-primary and primary education, early years pedagogy, sociocultural theory, visual and participatory research
  • Heikonen, Lauri (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    In this dissertation, I explored early-career teachers’ professional agency in the classroom. This refers to a teacher’s capacity for active, intentional and skillful learning in classroom interaction. The focus of the thesis is the anatomy of early-career teachers’ professional agency in the classroom and its relationships with inadequacy in teacher-pupil interaction and intentions to leave the teaching profession. Furthermore, I examined the strategies that early-career teachers apply in successful and challenging classroom situations. The dissertation consists of three studies each including a separate data set: cross-sectional survey data from teachers with five or fewer years of experience (N = 284), longitudinal survey data from teachers (N = 268) during the three first years of teacher education (N = 268), and stimulated recall interview data from teachers (N = 31) during a teaching practice period at the end of their studying (N = 31). Thus, the study drew on mixed methods research applying both quantitative and qualitative methods. Survey data sets were analysed primarily by means of structural equation modelling (SEM) whereas the interview data were analysed with content analysis. Study I examined the associations between early-career teachers’ turnover intentions, perceived inadequacy in teach-pupil interaction and professional agency in the classroom during the first five years in teaching. The results showed that considering leaving the teaching profession was positively related to questioning one’s own abilities in teacher-pupil interaction that was further negatively related to early-career teachers’ motivation, self-efficacy beliefs and strategies for constructing collaborative learning environments through active reflection in the classroom. Work experience was negatively related to failure experienced in teacher-pupil interaction. It seems that considering leaving the profession may embrace negatively balanced judgments about one’s performance in classroom interaction, which further hinders early-career teachers’ capacity and efforts towards actively analysing and transforming pedagogical practice and the learning environment. Through experience of working in the classroom, early-career teachers may learn functional strategies for controlling classroom interaction situations. Study II focused on the anatomy of early-career teachers’ professional agency in the classroom during the first three years in teacher education. According to the results, early-career teachers’ capacity to reflect actively in the classroom was positively associated with their learning by modelling other teachers and by con structing collaborative learning environments with pupils, which were further positively related with their sense of competence for promoting learning in the classroom. Furthermore, the interrelations between these contextualised modes of professional agency in the classroom showed a tendency to decrease during the second year and then increase during the third academic year. It seems that the interrelations between the modes of professional agency in the classroom vary, still maintaining a functional capacity enabling early-career teachers’ active and skillful learning in the classroom. In that process, intentional learning from and with others in the classroom became even more substantial. In Study III, the instructional strategies that early-career teachers applied in classroom interaction situations during teaching practice periods in teacher education were investigated. Early-career teachers most often used reactive behavioural strategies that included quick, rigid and survival-oriented responses predominantly in challenging classroom situations. Proactive cognitive strategies, including active monitoring of pupils’ actions and deliberate interpretations of classroom situations, enabled flexible, adaptive and transformative responses mainly in positive situations. Proactive cognitive strategies seemed to determine classroom situations functional for learning professional agency in the classroom, whereas reactive behavioural strategies seemed to inhibit such learning opportunities. Teachers’ learning has been broadly studied, yet research on early-career teachers’ professional agency in the classroom is scarce. This dissertation study contributes to the literature on early-career teachers’ learning by showing that the contextualised modes of professional agency in the classroom each have their operations in fashioning motivation, self-efficacy beliefs and strategies into a functional capacity for active skilful learning in the classroom. Moreover, early-career teachers’ professional agency in the classroom is challenged in many ways by the complexities of teacher-pupil interaction. The quality of instructional strategies is central in determining classroom situations suitable for learning professional agency in the classroom. Keywords: teacher learning, teachers’ professional agency, early-career teacher, classroom interaction, teacher-pupil interaction, instructional strategies, teacher education
  • Blagoeva, Nadezda (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    This dissertation presents an artist-teacher-researcher’s exploration of the use of the integrated approach to teaching visual arts to primary students, aged six-to-eight in the after-school clubs organized by an international school in Helsinki. The study is necessitated by the fact that in our postmodern world the availability of visual information is growing with dazzling speed and children, even at an early age, more than ever before are flooded with images through a multitude of channels. Therefore, they need guidance and sharing in order to construct their own knowledge about the world around them and to become multi-literate (Räsänen, 2015a; Räsänen, 2015b), all-round individuals (Finnish National Agency for Education – EDUFI, 2016), able to comprehend the complexity of this diverse visuality. In our fast-changing social and technological environment, dominated by the visual, new means of expression, and methods and materials for art creation are constantly emerging. So, in order to suggest answers to the educational challenges of the future in the field of visual arts it is becoming increasingly necessary to expand curriculum horizons, to find suitable ways for making use of the new and the contemporary (Watts, Cox, & Herne, 2009) and to establish links between different spheres of knowledge and life. For these reasons, the theoretical background of the study relies upon central tenets of the socio-constructivist and integrated approach, while at the same time takes into account some aspects of contemporary art forms and practices. The latter are shown to be essentially integrative in their nature and are viewed as a suitable means of introducing students to the varieties of ways for seeing the world around them and using their knowledge acquired in other subjects for the creation of new original artworks. Contemporary art effortlessly brings together, unites, combines, reuses, recycles, up-cycles, re-contextualizes and remediates materials and ideas to express the interconnectedness between various conceptual entities and, in this way to construct new meanings, just as the integrative approach aims at bridging the gap between disciplines in education. In this dissertation contemporary art forms and practices are considered to be integrative in terms of three of their main aspects: their materialization, their conceptualization and the collaboration during their creation. In view of this understanding of integrative teaching and contemporary art, the dissertation seeks to answer the following broad research question: How can the integrative potential of the three basic art-making principles of contemporary art – alternative materials utilization, conceptualization and collaboration – contribute to the successful integrative teaching of visual arts to primary school students to promote knowledge construction? In order to answer this research question, four artistic projects were planned, developed and implemented, each exploring various aspects of applying the integrated approach to my teaching of visual arts to six-to-eight year old students. The dissertation presents the research and teaching process as a developmental spiral consisting of five action research cycles. Employing action research method for the implementation of all the projects offered a clear methodological procedure that facilitated the data collection as well as the natural flow of the research process – the results and conclusions drawn from each action research cycle inspired the research questions for the next cycle (artistic project). The specific learning objectives as well as the artistic qualities of the artworks created during the projects implementation explored different aspects of the said integrative potential of contemporary art forms and practices. This research in action gave the opportunity to arrive at theoretical conclusions that stemmed directly from my authentic artistic experience applied in the teaching-learning process. These conclusions are presented as a three-tier model for facilitating integrated knowledge construction in the primary visual arts after-school activities by means of introducing contemporary art forms and practices. The model suggests that practical pedagogical utilization of the integrative potential of contemporary art forms can be materials-driven, concept-driven and collaboration-driven integration. These were the specific aspects of contemporary art that were explored in the course of the study and were observed during the implementation of the projects to have the potential to foster collaboration and knowledge integration that transcend disciplinary boundaries. In addition, employing action research allowed me to explore my artistic and teaching approaches thoroughly, to evaluate their development, and to gain awareness of the similarities between the artistic and the research process. In this way, the overlap of professional identities – an artist, a teacher and a researcher – was recognized as an opportunity for guiding the students into authentic artistic processes through artistic action research (Jokela, 2008; Räsänen, 2005), which affected positively the pedagogical and theoretical outcomes of the teaching and research process. The adoption and pedagogical adaptation of the kaleidoscopic diversity of contemporary art’s materialization, conceptualization and collaborative practices fostered collaborative interdisciplinary integration, which is in line with the current Finnish National Core Curriculum for basic education (EDUFI, 2016). They facilitated integrated knowledge construction among the primary after-school students, made the educational process more inspiring and meaningful (European Commission: Eurydice, 2019) and provided the young learners with a creativity toolbox to remix and remediate knowledge and experience, to think outside the box, so as to meet the visual challenges of the postmodern world. ________________________________________ Keywords: contemporary art; action research; integrated approach; primary after-school activities; visual arts education; multi-professional collaboration
  • Veijalainen, Jouni (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    This study examines 13–89-month-old children's evaluated self-regulation in the Finnish early education setting. The purpose of the study is to explore how self-regulation relates to children's holistic development, narrated cop-ing mechanisms and gender differences in expressions of emotion. The capacity for self-regulation is central to our understanding of what it is to be human, and its critical developmental period lies in early childhood. The contributions of the study are a profound knowledge of the importance of children’s self-regulation and an evaluation of the reliability and suitability of its instrument in an early education setting. The study is based on a larger research project called The Orientation Project, and the data contains three independent instruments. This quantita-tive and partly qualitative dissertation consists of a summary and three orig-inal articles, which focus on the following research assignments: (1) what kind of skills are included in self-regulation, and how are they related to their holistic development? and (2) how is self-regulation connected with children’s narrated coping mechanisms and with their observed emotional expressions? The research included 36 kindergartens from 13 different mu-nicipalities. The evaluations of the children’s (n = 2476) self-regulation skills were conducted via the employees of the children’s own class. The children’s (n = 383) coping mechanisms in an imagined frustration situation were conducted via open-ended interview. The observation instrument (Ekman, 1992) of the boys’ (n = 1075) and girls’ (n = 1213) emotional ex-pressions (n = 50 480) in their everyday lives was based on a random sam-pling. The observations were conducted by a teacher from another early education unit. The statistical data was analysed with frequencies, descrip-tive statistics, an independent T-test, Chi-square and partial correlations. The reliability of the self-regulation instrument was tested with Cronbach’s alpha and Cohen’s kappa. Children’s descriptions of their coping mecha-nisms were thematically classified into eight units via content analysis. The results demonstrate how self-regulation relates to children’s holistic development, such as social, linguistic, metacognition, and motor skills. Children’s good and moderate self-regulation skills entwine with their abil-ity to imagine different forms of persistent coping mechanisms, while weak self-regulation connects to withdrawal strategies and uncertainty. Self-regulation occurs in different emotional expressions in both genders. Boys with weak self-regulation express more aggression, while girls express neu-trality and calmness in every category of self-regulation. As a whole, self-regulation is fundamentally associated with children’s everyday lives in an early childhood education setting. Knowledge of how children’s self-regulation associates with their behaviour and holistic development forms an important ground for educators and policymakers to promote high-quality early childhood education and pedagogy.
  • Hienonen, Ninja (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    Faced with a diverse student population, schools assign student into classes of different size and composition. These placements can have consequences on learning and teaching and they are often referred to as compositional effects. Consequently, in this study I treated students in clusters (classes in schools) with a hypothesis that students can expect to have different levels of performance depending on the class they are assigned to. The main focus was on students with special educational needs (SEN), and on the question of how they are affected by the class placement. The aim of the study was to discern the class-level effects, specifically, class size and the proportion of students with SEN in regular classes, and to explore the effect of the placement by comparing regular and special classes. Data were drawn from two longitudinal large-scale learning to learn assessment studies representing both primary (N = 896) and lower secondary education (N = 5368). Data were analyzed with multilevel regression models. Furthermore, quasi-experimental design was created using propensity score matching. The results of this study confirmed that on average, students with SEN were placed in smaller classes, however, the size of a class as such had no effect on their performance in cognitive tasks. Furthermore, the average performance level in regular classes with students with SEN was lower than in classes without students with SEN, and the effect remained significant even after the initial differences were controlled for. Students with SEN seemed to benefit from the other students with SEN placed in the same classroom. In addition, the results suggested a tendency to create more homogeneous classrooms as less-achieving students without SEN were placed together with students with SEN. When the differences among students with SEN placed in two distinct educational settings, special and regular classes were explored, no differences in any cognitive tasks were detected. However, students in special classes received higher grades in some core subjects, and that calls for more research on grading practices in different classroom contexts. The findings also revealed differences in learning motivation across the two settings. The purposeful sorting of all students, not only students with SEN into classrooms was confirmed with this study. The results also implied a hidden tracking system within schools. It is evident that assigning students into classrooms is far from neutral act, and that there can be some unintentional consequences. The criteria that are used in assigning students to classes should be discussed in an explicit manner and the schools and administrators should be aware of the possible consequences of different placement decisions.

View more