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  • Onnismaa, Eeva-Leena (Helsingin yliopisto, 2010)
    The aim of this study is to describe and interpret discourses in Finnish national early childhood education and care (ECEC) documents concerning the child, childhood and family, including preschool education of six-year-old children. The study begins with preparation phase of the Act on Children s Day Care (1967) and concludes with the definition of ECEC policy (1999). The research data consists of committee memoranda and national ECEC curriculum guidelines. The total number of documents studied was 20, comprising some 1700 pages. The research data was examined with qualitative text analysis and employed a discursive approach. A semiotic square (Greimas rectangle) served as a tool for clarifying the discourses and constructions reflected in the research data. The theoretical framework of the study consists of the theories of childhood and family studies. The main concepts from childhood studies used in this study were childhood as a cultural construct and child-centred pedagogy in ECEC. The theoretical approaches from family studies used were the formation of modern and late-modern parenthood and family, as well as the concept of familism. Two main discursive lines were constructed from the ECEC documents. The notion of universalistic childhood suggests that early education and care aim to create the same good childhood for all children, regardless of their family background or living area. The second discursive line followed in the documents is the familistic discourse. This discourse contains emphasis on the priority of parental care. The construct of the competent child was found in the research data as early as in the mid-1970s. On the other hand, the construct of the weak family is distinguishable throughout almost the entire research period. This raises the question of whether Finnish ECEC system has been developed for the competent and self-sufficient child of a weak family which needs constant support and guidance of welfare experts. According to the study, it appears that within the Finnish ECEC system the relatively heavy emphasis on social work rather than on early education has been legitimised by the construct of the weak family. This study also shows that a more thorough analysis should be given to what we mean when we say that the main task of ECEC system is to support families in the upbringing of their children. The study was completed during the period when historical decisions concerning the administration in Finland were in the making (i.e. the potential transfer of ECEC services from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health to the Ministry of Education). Also, over the past decade, a major reformation of the Act on Children s Daycare has been on the agenda, but no concrete measures have been implemented. Based on the findings of this study, we can ask for what kind of child and family we are preparing the ECEc reforms of the new millennium. Key words: ECEC policy Finland, childhood, family, familism, discourse analysis, semiotic square
  • Lähteenmäki, Minna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2013)
    This study examines the daily life of children who seek asylum in Finland and spend their time at reception centres and schools. The objective of the study is to establish how these children's previous experience finds representation in their lives during the asylum-seeking process and how social networks support them. Ethnographic research of childhood proposes to make visible the practices that create limitations and barriers in children's lives. The key concepts and tools applied in the course of this work are ethnicity, citizenship, culture, and change in life. Debates in critical, sociological research of childhood and ethnographic, feminist-oriented research are used as important source materials. The study describes the experience and thoughts of asylum-seeking children between the time of submission of an asylum application and the time of its approval or rejection. The methodology applied is based on the ethnographic study of childhood. The study was conducted at two reception centres and one school. The target group was 18 children, representing seven nationalities and ranging from four to twelve years of age. Most of the data was collected during the academic year 2005 - 2006, and the work was carried out by means of participating observation. The methodology involved ethnographic narrative interviews made with children, parents and employees (12), fairy tales told by the children (59), and pictures drawn by them (38). The study establishes that the asylum seeker centres do, on the one hand, allow the children to express themselves, yet, on the other hand, there is much passive suffering and silence. The fear, uncertainty and discrimination experienced in the past do not subside while the children remain in Finland, however, and the feelings of desolation tend to increase during the asylum-seeking process. The study shows that cramped living conditions, moving from one reception centre to another, poor health of the children and their families, and the commonness of events shocking the community create an atmosphere of anxiety, which prevails in the lives of these children. Extended application processes, long waiting periods for municipal housing, and responsibilities involving housework and caring for family members complicate the lives of the children as do the lack of friends and the sudden departures of friends, once they have been gained. The study reveals that asylum decisions have effects on the lives of all those who are connected in one way or other with the asylum-seekers. It is evident how a positive decision brings hope and a negative decision creates anxiety in the life of each child. The research also shows how the positive representations of home are transferred to the home where the children live during the asylum-seeking process. Depending on the child's experience, home finds representation either in terms human relationships or in terms of place. Children are attached, especially, to family members who live with them during the asylum-seeking process in Finland, and to other children living at the reception centre. Activities at school, pre-school, clubs and organised hobbies, mentors, and social and health services help the children to cope with the asylum-seeking period. Shaping these children's lives is very much about giving them a voice, and through it securing that their rights are respected - or, in the worst case, denying their rights.
  • Tahkokallio, Leena (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    The study examines the kind of professional development catalysed by observation-based reflection in cooperation with a researcher in a Finnish daycare centre. More specific research questions were what kindergarten teachers reflect on, what kind of reflection teachers speech represents, and what kind of changes take place in the interpretative framework of the teacher. Four kindergarten teachers participated in this research project. Two of them were involved for two action research cycles (including evaluation, planning, improvement, and reflection), and two for three cycles. The goal of this research project was to support the professional development of kindergarten teachers by means of co-operation between the researcher, the kindergarten teachers and their teams, based on the quality of children s experiences in a kindergarten group of children aged 3 - 6 years. The data were produced by interviewing the teacher, discussing with her and her team, observing the involvement of the children and the engagement of the adult, and using various textual sources. The analysis of the data took place in two stages. In the first stage the analysis proceeded vertically,case by case. The second stage of the analysis was horizontal, with the emphasis on trying to find common meanings and the directions of change. A case description, drawing on the different types of data, summarises the process of each teacher and her group. The descriptions are based on the analysed interviews, the evaluation and reflection discussions carried out with the teachers, analysis of the systematic observation of adult engagement and the involvement of the children and of and analysis of the [textual] documents. In the second stage the cases were compared and examined horizontally. Firstly, the results show that observing the children catalysed new interpretations of the children s experiences and the adult s role in relation to them. Secondly, it was discovered that the children s peer relations explain in important measure their involvement an observation which prompted the teachers to reflect on the possibilities of adults affecting these relations in a constructive way. Thirdly, the research process led all the teachers to reflect holistically on their own role, and on the development of their working methods, in relationship to their earlier interpretations of the role of the adult and the idea of child-oriented pedagogy. As regards the quality of their reflection and how their ways of reflecting changed, the personal research-orientated approach of the teacher and her ability to connect her reflections to the experiences of the children were significant. Cooperation with the researcher led the teachers to reflect not only on shared research topics but also on various personal themes which arose from the individual experiences of the teachers and from the particularities of the different day-care settings. The objects of reflection and its quality are thus indicative, firstly, of the personal professional development of the teacher and what she considers meaningful and, secondly, more generally of the central questions of early childhood pedagogics. It is common to describe institutional development as a process in which abstract transformative speech slowly catalyses a real change. This study, however, shows that observation-based evaluation of children's experiences may trigger a profound professional learning process, during which the teacher has to reinterpret, and partly question, not only her own working methods but also the dominant pedagogical discourse and the unspoken rules and contracts affecting the day-care setting.
  • Toiviainen, Hanna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2003)
  • Pereira Querol, Marco Antonio (Helsingin yliopisto, 2011)
    This study is about the challenges of learning in the creation and implementation of new sustainable technologies. The system of biogas production in the Programme of Sustainable Swine Production (3S Programme) conducted by the Sadia food processing company in Santa Catarina State, Brazil, is used as a case example for exploring the challenges, possibilities and obstacles of learning in the use of biogas production as a way to increase the environmental sustainability of swine production. The aim is to contribute to the discussion about the possibilities of developing systems of biogas production for sustainability (BPfS). In the study I develop hypotheses concerning the central challenges and possibilities for developing systems of BPfS in three phases. First, I construct a model of the network of activities involved in the BP for sustainability in the case study. Next, I construct a) an idealised model of the historically evolved concepts of BPfS through an analysis of the development of forms of BP and b) a hypothesis of the current central contradictions within and between the activity systems involved in BP for sustainability in the case study. This hypothesis is further developed through two actual empirical analyses: an analysis of the actors senses in taking part in the system, and an analysis of the disturbance processes in the implementation and operation of the BP system in the 3S Programme. The historical analysis shows that BP for sustainability in the 3S Programme emerged as a feasible solution for the contradiction between environmental protection and concentration, intensification and specialisation in swine production. This contradiction created a threat to the supply of swine to the food processing company. In the food production activity, the contradiction was expressed as a contradiction between the desire of the company to become a sustainable company and the situation in the outsourced farms. For the swine producers the contradiction was expressed between the contradictory rules in which the market exerted pressure which pushed for continual increases in scale, specialisation and concentration to keep the production economically viable, while the environmental rules imposed a limit to this expansion. Although the observed disturbances in the biogas system seemed to be merely technical and localised within the farms, the analysis proposed that these disturbances were formed in and between the activity systems involved in the network of BPfS during the implementation. The disturbances observed could be explained by four contradictions: a) contradictions between the new, more expanded activity of sustainable swine production and the old activity, b) a contradiction between the concept of BP for carbon credits and BP for local use in the BPfS that was implemented, c) contradictions between the new UNFCCC1 methodology for applying for carbon credits and the small size of the farms, and d) between the technologies of biogas use and burning available in the market and the small size of the farms. The main finding of this study relates to the zone of proximal development (ZPD) of the BPfS in Sadia food production chain. The model is first developed as a general model of concepts of BPfS and further developed here to the specific case of the BPfS in the 3S Programme. The model is composed of two developmental dimensions: societal and functional integration. The dimension of societal integration refers to the level of integration with other activities outside the farm. At one extreme, biogas production is self-sufficient and highly independent and the products of BP are consumed within the farm, while at the other extreme BP is highly integrated in markets and networks of collaboration, and BP products are exchanged within the markets. The dimension of functional integration refers to the level of integration between products and production processes so that economies of scope can be achieved by combining several functions using the same utility. At one extreme, BP is specialised in only one product, which allows achieving economies of scale, while at the other extreme there is an integrated production in which several biogas products are produced in order to maximise the outcomes from the BP system. The analysis suggests that BP is moving towards a societal integration, towards the market and towards a functional integration in which several biogas products are combined. The model is a hypothesis to be further tested through interventions by collectively constructing the new proposed concept of BPfS. Another important contribution of this study refers to the concept of the learning challenge. Three central learning challenges for developing a sustainable system of BP in the 3S Programme were identified: 1) the development of cheaper and more practical technologies of burning and measuring the gas, as well as the reduction of costs of the process of certification, 2) the development of new ways of using biogas within farms, and 3) the creation of new local markets and networks for selling BP products. One general learning challenge is to find more varied and synergic ways of using BP products than solely for the production of carbon credits. Both the model of the ZPD of BPfS and the identified learning challenges could be used as learning tools to facilitate the development of biogas production systems. The proposed model of the ZPD could be used to analyse different types of agricultural activities that face a similar contradiction. The findings could be used in interventions to help actors to find their own expansive actions and developmental projects for change. Rather than proposing a standardised best concept of BPfS, the idea of these learning tools is to facilitate the analysis of local situations and to help actors to make their activities more sustainable.
  • Kontinen, Tiina (Helsingin yliopisto, 2007)
    Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have gained an important role in development co-operation during the last two decades. The development funding channelled through NGOs has increased and the number of NGOs engaged in development activities, both North and South, has been growing. Supporting NGOs has been seen as one way to strengthen civil society in the South and to provide potential for enhancing more effective development than the state, and to exercise participatory development and partnership in their North-South relationships. This study focuses on learning in the co-operation practices of small Finnish NGOs in Morogoro, Tanzania. Drawing on the cultural-historical activity theory and the theory of expansive learning, in this study I understand learning as a qualitative change in the actual co-operation practices. The qualitative change, for its part, emerges out of attempts to deal with the contradictions in the present activity. I use the concept of developmental contradiction in exploring the co-operation of the small Finnish NGOs with their Tanzanian counterparts. Developmental contradiction connects learning to actual practice and its historical development. By history, in this study I refer to multiple developmental trajectories, such as trajectories of individual participants, organisations, co-operation practices and the institutional system in which the NGO-development co-operation is embedded. In the empirical chapters I explore the co-operation both in the development co-operation projects and in micro-level interaction between partners taking place within the projects. I analyse the perceptions of the Finnish participants about the different developmental trajectories, the tensions, inclusions and exclusions in the evolving object of co-operation in one project, the construction of power relations in project meetings in three projects, and the collision of explicated partnership with the emerging practice of trusteeship in one project. On the basis of the empirical analyses I elaborate four developmental contradictions and learning challenges for the co-operation. The developmental contradictions include: 1) implementing a ready-made Finnish project idea vs. taking the current activities of Tanzanian NGO as a starting point; 2) gaining experiences and cultural interaction vs. access to outside funding; 3) promoting the official tools of development co-operation in training vs. use of tools and procedures taken from the prior activities of both partners in actual practice; and 4) asymmetric relations between the partners vs. rhetoric of equal partnership. Consequently, on the basis of developmental contradictions four learning challenges are suggested: a shift from legitimation of Finnish ideas to negotiation, transcending the separate objects and finding a partly joint object, developing locally shared tools for the co-operation, and identification and reflection of the power relations in the practice of co-operation. Keywords: activity theory; expansive learning; NGO development co-operation; partnership; power
  • Isei-Jaakkola, Toshiko (Helsingin yliopisto, 2004)
  • Hakulinen, Christian (Helsingin yliopisto, 2013)
    Previous studies have suggested that hostility and anger are associated with serotonergic function, that they are relatively stable personality characteristics, and that their development is affected by early family factors. Hostile and angry individuals have also been suggested to be at risk for social problems. However, there is a limited number of studies that have examined these issues from a life course perspective, which is the aim of the present thesis. The participants for the current study were from the ongoing, nationally representative, longitudinal, population-based Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study (YFS), which began in 1980. The present thesis had two aims: 1) to investigate how serotonin receptor 1B, family factors, and early antecedents of hostility and anger are related to the life course development and stability of hostility and anger, and 2) how hostility over the life course is related to unemployment in adulthood. The results indicate that low parental socioeconomic status, a hostile child-rearing style and aggressive behavior in childhood predicted high levels of hostility and anger in adulthood, but the association between aggressive behavior and hostility was moderated by the serotonin receptor 1B. Both hostility and anger seemed to be moderately stable characteristics over the life course. Hostility and unemployment were found to have a bidirectional relationship, but hostility was a stronger predictor of unemployment than vice versa. The current study provides new information on unemployment as an outcome of hostility and emphasizes the role of early antecedents and family factors in the development of hostility and anger over the life course. Based on these findings, the prevention of hostility and anger should be targeted at the early stages of life. This could greatly lower the costs of high levels of hostility and anger to the individual as well as to society.
  • Virkkunen, Arto (Helsingin yliopisto, 2011)
    This research will be aimed at five hold office fysical teachers´, three men and two women teacher, pedagogical thinking and how the realization of physical teaching will be determined the teacher`s action and thinking and how the pedagogy task will be carried out in the connection of teaching. The central goal of the research is the examining of pedagogical action climate from the point of view of the pupil and his own experience. The pedagogical climate is seen in the research as the matter of the motivating, communal and the mutual confidence. The research represents the hermeneutic approaching way, where with the help of interpretation of the study material is tried to get to understand the study target. I shall call my work the dialogic hermeneutic study. The study material includes the interview and observation material. During the examining material have been picked up the essential of the questions. By means of the contain analysis has been raised the essential connected closely to study questions. With the method of contain analysis it had been shaped the description of every teacher. After this it had been searched from the material the centered meanings, which were connected closely to the study job and their unities. To understand the connections between meanings were based on by means of the investigator´s own intuitive experience developed meaning understanding. The research strengthened the beginning understanding right. The physical teachers did not plan their teaching to think their education, but to think the pupils` activity. In the teachers` thinking and action pupils` situation was emphasized different. The other teachers` perspective was opened more from pupils, the othes` more from action. Pupils had more state to take part together and the teachers noticed the pupils` differences. The teachers descriped their own growth as teachers as interaction skills to develop. It seems that when teachers get more age and more experience they get prerequisities to look at their work more from pupils.
  • Saalasti, Satu (Helsingin yliopisto, 2012)
    Asperger Syndrome (AS) belongs to autism spectrum disorders where both verbal and non-verbal communication difficulties are at the core of the impairment. Social communication requires a complex use of affective, linguistic-cognitive and perceptual processes. In the four studies included in the current thesis, some of the linguistic and perceptual factors that are important for face-to-face communication were studied using behavioural methods. In all four studies the results obtained from individuals with AS were compared with typically developed age, gender and IQ matched controls. First, the language skills of school-aged children were characterized in detail with standardized tests that measured different aspects of receptive and expressive language (Study I). The children with AS were found to be worse than the controls in following complex verbal instructions. Next, the visual perception of facial expressions of emotion with varying degrees of visual detail was examined (Study II). Adults with AS were found to have impaired recognition of facial expressions on the basis of very low spatial frequencies which are important for processing global information. Following that, multisensory perception was investigated by looking at audiovisual speech perception (Studies III and IV). Adults with AS were found to perceive audiovisual speech qualitatively differently from typically developed adults, although both groups were equally accurate in recognizing auditory and visual speech presented alone. Finally, the effect of attention on audiovisual speech perception was studied by registering eye gaze behaviour (Study III) and by studying the voluntary control of visual attention (Study IV). The groups did not differ in eye gaze behaviour or in the voluntary control of visual attention. The results of the study series demonstrate that many factors underpinning face-to-face social communication are atypical in AS. In contrast with previous assumptions about intact language abilities, the current results show that children with AS have difficulties in understanding complex verbal instructions. Furthermore, the study makes clear that deviations in the perception of global features in faces expressing emotions as well as in the multisensory perception of speech are likely to harm face-to-face social communication.
  • Rainio, Anna Pauliina (Helsingin yliopisto, 2010)
    This is an ethnographic case study of the creation and emergence of a playworld – a pedagogical approach aimed at promoting children’s development and learning in early education settings through the use of play and drama. The data was collected in a Finnish experimental mixed-age elementary school classroom in the school year 2003-2004. In the playworld students and teachers explore different social and cultural phenomena through taking on the roles of characters from a story or a piece of literature and acting inside the frames of an improvised plot. The thesis takes under scrutiny the notion of agency in education. It produces theoretically grounded empirical knowledge of the ways in which children struggle to become recognized and agentive actors in early education settings and how their agency develops in their interaction with adults. The study builds on the activity theoretical and sociocultural tradition and develops a methodological framework called video-based narrative interaction analysis for studying student agency as developing over time but manifesting through the situational material and discursive local interactions. The research questions are: 1. What are the children’s ways of enacting their agency in the playworld? 2. How do the children’s agentive actions change and develop over the spring? 3. What are the potentials and challenges of the playworld for promoting student agency? 4. How do the teachers and the children deal with the contradiction between control and agency in the playworld? The study consists of a summary part and four empirical articles which each have a particular viewpoint. Articles I and II deal with individual students’ paths to agency. In Article I the focus is on the role of resistance and questioning in enabling important spaces for agency. Article II takes a critical gender perspective and analyzes how two girls struggled towards recognition in the playworld. It also illuminates the role of imagination in developing a sense of agency. Article III examines how the open-ended and improvisational nature of the playworld interaction provided experiences and a sense of ‘shared agency’ for the students and teachers in the class. Article IV turns the focus on the teachers and analyzes how their role actions in the playworld helped the children to enact agency. It also discusses the challenges that the teachers faced in this work and asks what makes the playworld activity sustainable in the class. The summary part provides a critical literature review on the concept of agency and argues that the inherently contradictory nature of the phenomenon of agency has not been sufficiently theorized. The summary part also locates the playworld intervention in a historical frame by discussing the changing conceptions of adulthood and childhood in the West. By focusing on the changing role of play and art in both adults’ and children’s contemporary lives, the thesis opens up an important but often neglected perspective on the problem of promoting student agency in education. The results illustrate how engaging in a collectively imagined and dramatized pretend play space together with the children enabled the teachers to momentarily put aside their “knower” positions in the classroom. The fictive roles and the narrative plot helped them to create a necessary incompleteness and open-endedness in the activity that stimulated the children’s initiatives. This meant that the children too could momentarily step out of their traditional classroom positions as pupils and initiate action to further the collective play. Engaging in this kind of unconventional activity and taking up and enacting agency was, however, very challenging for the participating children and teachers. It often contradicted the need to sustain control and order in the classroom. The study concludes that play- and drama-based pedagogies offer a unique but undeveloped potential for developing educational spaces that help teachers and children deal with the often contradictory requirements of schooling.
  • Hyytinen, Heidi (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    The central purpose of this doctoral thesis has been to deepen our understanding of the nature of critical thinking by combining theoretical, empirical and methodological perspectives. The concept of critical thinking has a central role both in research on the philosophy of education and in empirical research on learning and teaching in higher education. Although it is true that the philosophical and empirical analyses of critical thinking and knowledge differ fundamentally, the present thesis argues that there are shared concerns between these two scholarly traditions. The thesis consists of four studies, each of which approached this aim from different viewpoints. The methods involved both a philosophical approach and an empirical multi-method approach. The dialogue between the empirical and theoretical analyses offers new insights into conceptualising critical thinking and its prerequisites and extends our understanding of variations in critical thinking. Based on the theoretical findings of these studies, I argue that normative elements (how things ought to be) and descriptive elements (how things are) are fundamentally intertwined in the research on critical thinking. Therefore, educational research on critical thinking requires both philosophical and empirical approaches and also dialogue between these two approaches. The theoretical part of the doctoral thesis further demonstrates how philosophical research can contribute to the normative elements of the prevailing empirically-based theorisation of critical thinking, particularly by revealing some conceptual inconsistencies within this framework. The research further introduces the notion of fallibilism (human knowledge is uncertain) as a way out. Epistemological fallibilism fits the presumption of critical thinking better than relativism from the theoretical and pedagogical points of view. The empirical results revealed variation in (a) students skills and dispositions to think critically, (b) students ability to adapt their thinking and performance flexibility, (c) the nature of knowledge students consider to be relevant, (d) the knowledge that students use in problem-solving situations, as well as (e) the way students process that knowledge. Based on these variations two profiles were identified: (1) superficial processing or (2) thorough processing. Superficial processing students reproduced information in the problem-solving situation. These students did not analyse, interpret, evaluate or synthesise knowledge, and their reasoning was very poor. They palmed off justification for knowing on authorities and testimonies. In contrast to previous research, the results show that these students did not share the belief that knowledge is absolutely certain or unquestionable. Nor did these students share the view that beliefs accurately represent or correspond to reality. These students emphasised the uncertain nature of knowledge. The thorough processing students, by contrast, evaluated the quality of the information and considered its premises, as well as the implications of different conclusions. They weighed different options, analysed connections between claims, connected related ideas and gave mainly well-reasoned explanations and convincing arguments. The findings also show that the thorough processing students believed knowledge to be tentative and fallible. However, these students did not argue that all knowledge is constructed by human beings nor did they believe that all interpretations, theories and beliefs are equally right. They thus avoided slipping into relativism. The results revealed that both deeply superficial and thorough processing thinking entails problems if it is connected to an inability to adjust thinking or actions to the demands of the task. This thesis also identified several methodological challenges in assessing critical thinking. The results show that different performance-based critical thinking tests could give completely opposite pictures of a student s abilities. The results further indicated that the group-level analyses could overrun the rich variations in test performance that occurred among individual students. Additionally, the thesis reminds us that the theoretical framework has a great influence on how data are analysed and interpreted. Finally, the thesis argues that one assessment or analysis method is not enough to evaluate the complex cognitive processes of critical thinking. Instead of a sole focus on empirical or theoretical elements, more communication between the theoretical, empirical and methodological perspectives is required to deepen the understanding of critical thinking among students of higher education. Keywords: critical thinking, performance assessment, epistemology, fallibilism, relativism
  • Uusitalo-Malmivaara, Lotta (Helsingin yliopisto, 2009)
    Remediation of Reading Difficulties in Grade 1. Three Pedagogical Interventions Keywords: initial teaching, learning to read, reading difficulties, intervention, dyslexia, remediation of dyslexia, home reading, computerized training In this study three different reading interventions were tested for first-graders at risk of reading difficulties at school commencement. The intervention groups were compared together and with a control group receiving special education provided by the school. First intervention was a new approach called syllable rhythmics in which syllabic rhythm, phonological knowledge and letter-phoneme correspondence are emphasized. Syllable rhythmics is based on multi-sensory training elements aimed at finding the most functional modality for every child. The second intervention was computerized training of letter-sound correspondence with the Ekapeli learning game. The third intervention was home-based shared book reading, where every family was given a story book, and dialogic reading style reading and writing exercises were prepared for each chapter of the book. The participants were 80 first-graders in 19 classes in nine schools. The children were matched in four groups according to pre-test results: three intervention and one control. The interventions took ten weeks starting from September in grade 1. The first post-test including several measures of reading abilities was administered in December. The first delayed post-test was administered in March, the second in September in grade 2, and the third, “ALLU” test (reading test for primary school) was administered in March in grade 2. The intervention and control groups differed only slightly from each other in grade 1. However, girls progressed significantly more than boys in both word reading and reading comprehension in December and this difference remained in March. The children who had been cited as inattentive by their teachers also lagged behind the others in the post-tests in December and March. When participants were divided into two groups according to their initial letter knowledge at school entry, the weaker group (maximum 17 correctly named letters in pre-test) progressed more slowly in both word reading and reading comprehension in grade 1. Intervention group and gender had no interaction effect in grade 1. Instead, intervention group and attentiveness had an interaction effect on most test measures the inattentive students in the syllable rhythmic group doing worst and attentive students in the control group doing best in grade 1. The smallest difference between results of attentive and inattentive students was in the Ekapeli group. In grade 2 still only minor differences were found between the intervention groups and control group. The only significant difference was in non-word reading, with the syllable rhythmics group outperforming the other groups in the fall. The difference between girls’ and boys’ performances in both technical reading and text comprehension disappeared in grade 2. The difference between the inattentive and attentive students cold no longer be found in technical reading, and the difference became smaller in text comprehension as well. The difference between two groups divided according to their initial letter knowledge disappeared in technical reading but remained significant in text comprehension measures in the ALLU test in the spring of grade 2. In all, the children in the study did better in the ALLU test than expected according to ALLU test norms. Being the weakest readers in their classes in the pre-test, 52.3 % reached the normal reading ability level. In the norm group 72.3 % of all students attained normal reading ability. The results of this study indicate that different types of remediation programs can be effective, and that special education has been apparently useful. The results suggest careful consideration of first-graders’ initial reading abilities (especially letter knowledge) and possible failure of attention; remediation should be individually targeted while flexibly using different methods.
  • Panula, Anne-Mari (Helsingin yliopisto, 2013)
    The purpose of this follow-up study was to explore the occurrence and persistence of reading difficulties and their relation to school achievement as well as the reception of part time special education. The progress of literacy and the changes in school achievement among the students who had received part time special education were also examined in this study. The target group was one age cohort in a small community in southern Finland. A total of 461 students participated the study (boys 49.9% and girls 50.1%). The analysis of the results was mainly done using the data from 3rd to 9th grades of the entire cohort (N=287; boys 53% and girls 47%). The external loss of data was 18.5%. The research questions were also analysed with follow-up data collected after different lengths of time. The longest period started from preschool and continued to the end of the 9th grade (N=137; the external loss of participants over the nine years was 25.5%). Cross data was created for every measuring point (preschool, 3rd, 6th and 9th grades). Eight different reading paths were created for primary school. The preschool screening of reading abilities was done using the individual phonological test Diagnostic Tests I (Diagnostiset testit I; Poskiparta, Niemi and Lepola 1994). In primary school reading abilities were charted using the Primary School Reading Test (Ala-asteen Lukutesti; Lindeman 1998). Screening reading abilities in the secondary school was done with the Niilo Mäki Institute s Screening Test for Adolescents and Adults (Lukivaikeuksien seulontamenetelmä nuorille ja aikuisille; Holopainen, Kairaluoma, Nevala, Ahonen and Aro 2004). School reports for the 6th and 9th grades were used as indicators of school achievement. Comprehensive, dynamic and developmental aspects of reading skills formed the conceptual framework of the study. The classic Simple view of reading model (SVR-malli; Gough and Tunmer 1986; Hoover and Gough 1990) was used as a starting point for the study. The SVR model was developed into a comprehensive literacy model when it was formed using the Convergent Skills Model of Reading Development (Vellutino, Tunmer, Jaccard and Chen 2007) and Component Model of Reading (Aaron, Joshi, Gooden and Bentum 2008) models. The Finnish point of view, the orthographic characteristics of the Finnish language (high transparency of the language, or the regularity of mapping between orthography and phonology) as well as the relations between reading development, reading difficulties, Finnish culture and the education system were emphasized in the resulting reading model. The results suggest that tests in preschool can predict reading comprehension difficulties in primary school fairly well. The most used reading path among the students in primary school was the strong reading path, and the second was the so called weak reading path. Reading difficulties turned out to be quite stable through out primary education. When analysing gender differences, it was discovered that boys have more reading difficulties and that these difficulties are more stable. The average grades in theoretical subjects were statistically highly significantly weaker for students with reading difficulties compared to other students in all examinations. The reading comprehension test in 3rd grade predicted quite well (72% accuracy) whether a student would be in the group with the lowest grades at the end of the 9th grade (an average of theoretical subjects of 7.00 or less). For the boys, weak reading skills were especially related to poor school achievement. The study also brought out the joint effect of word recognition and reading comprehension with 6th and 9th grade school achievement. A positive relation between the amount of part time special education received during primary school and the changes in school achievement between 6th and 9th grade was shown in the study. In addition to individual variations, the school and individual classrooms affected the general variation in reading ability and school achievement. In the study this was demonstrated using multilevel modeling. The class level proved to be a significant factor for 3rd and 6th grade word recognition skills. Keywords: Literacy, follow-up study, reading difficulties, dyslexia, reading comprehension, school achievement, part time special education
  • Patrikainen, Sanna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2012)
    The purpose of this research was to describe and understand class teacher s pedagogical thinking and action in mathematics education. At first we investigated how teachers taught mathematics as well as their reasons for their pedagogical decisions. Based on these empirical findings, the second essential aim was to consider the quality of mathematics education relative to socio-constructivistic curriculum thinking and to model it with theoretical conceptions. The conceptualizing of mathematics education was based on the didactical relation included in the didactical triangle. The research is qualitative by nature and can be characterized as a qualitative collective multiple-case study. The participants, three class teachers, were followed up during one mathematical teaching-studying-learning process. The research material was gathered by two different methods: first the teachers pedagogical action was observed using video recordings, and then the pedagogical thinking connected to this action was depicted with the help of stimulated recall interview. The video data was analysed using a theory based set of concepts which described the mathematics teaching-studying-learning process. The purpose of the theory-bounded interview data analysis was to deepen the tentative understanding of mathematics education gained through the video analysis. The results describe the teachers pedagogical thinking and action in the context of mathematics education. All three teachers shared a constructivistic conception of mathematics teaching and learning, but each emphasized different viewpoints. These personal conceptions of teaching were defined as humanistic-constructive, cognitive-constructive and contextual-constructive. Finally, a model of mathematics education consisting of four factors was constructed. This model also included the didactical relation which was defined as the teacher s relation to the student, the content and the life-world. The research results and methodological inventions can be used in the context of school teaching, teacher education and research on teaching. Teachers and teacher students can utilize the results when reflecting on their own pedagogical thinking and action. In addition the research provides topical information concerning Finnish mathematics education as well as new perspectives for national and international research, development and curriculum work.