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  • Vekkaila, Jenna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    This dissertation study explored students engagement in the doctoral process and factors associated with it. Doctoral students experiences of engagement were investigated in three studies, while the associated factors were analysed in a further two. The dissertation used a mixed-methods approach; accordingly, the data were collected through interviews and surveys, and were analysed by combining qualitative and quantitative methods. Study I investigated the key learning experiences that the students perceived to be either inspiring or challenging in their doctoral process. Altogether 19 natural sciences doctoral students were interviewed. The majority of the key learning experiences identified by the students were positive. Most of the experiences were related to the students participation in the scholarly community, developing as a scholar, and developing specific research competencies. The students situated such experiences typically in various scholarly activities including research work, courses, and academic meetings. Study II focused on analysing students engagement by exploring the main experiences and sources, as well as the qualitatively different forms of engagement in the doctoral process. Altogether 21 behavioural sciences doctoral students were interviewed. The students described their engagement in terms of experiences of dedication, efficiency, and sometimes absorption. They typically emphasised their sense of competence and relatedness as the main sources of engagement. In the students descriptions three qualitatively different forms of engagement in doctoral work were also identified: an adaptive form of engagement, an agentic form of engagement, and a work-life inspired form of engagement. Further, there was variation among the students in terms of what forms of engagement they emphasised in different phases of their doctoral studies. Study III focused on students disengagement by exploring the main experiences and sources of disengagement from the doctoral process. Also, the students perceptions of the dynamic interplay between themselves and their environments with respect to disengaging experiences were explored by analysing the perceived misfits between the students and their environments. Altogether 16 behavioural sciences doctoral students were interviewed. The students described their disengagement in terms of experiences of inefficacy, cynicism, and sometimes exhaustion. They typically emphasised their struggles and conflicts within the scholarly community as the main source of disengagement. The students typically attributed their disengagement to the perceived misfit between themselves and their environments, and in particular often associated the problem with the scholarly community rather than themselves. Study IV focused on the collective fit between doctoral students and their environments that had contributed to their engagement. Altogether 1 184 doctoral students and 431 supervisors from different disciplines participated in the surveys. The collective fit was explored at the faculty level in terms of similarities and differences in the students and supervisors perceptions of the main resources and challenges with respect to the doctoral process. The relation between the perceived fit and the doctoral students satisfaction with their study process and supervision was explored. The results showed that either a fit, a partial fit, or a misfit existed between the students and supervisors perceptions in the different faculties. A relation was also found between the collective fit and students satisfaction with their overall study process and supervisory support. This dissertation contributes to the literature on doctoral student engagement by breaking down the complexity of engagement; it does this by identifying the qualitatively different experiences, sources, and forms of engagement. Moreover, the study reveals the nature of engagement at the interface of study and work by shedding light on the dual role of doctoral students as both students and professional researchers. Further, the results provide a new understanding of the perceived student learning environment fit as a primary determinant of doctoral student engagement. The results encourage viewing doctoral student engagement as a complex, multidimensional phenomenon supported by the constructive interplay between doctoral students and their learning environments that fosters students meaningful participation and a sense of belonging in their scholarly communities. Keywords: doctoral education, doctoral process, doctoral student, engagement, disengagement, learning environment, scholarly community, student environment fit
  • Tanskanen, Topi (Helsingin yliopisto, 2008)
    The neural basis of visual perception can be understood only when the sequence of cortical activity underlying successful recognition is known. The early steps in this processing chain, from retina to the primary visual cortex, are highly local, and the perception of more complex shapes requires integration of the local information. In Study I of this thesis, the progression from local to global visual analysis was assessed by recording cortical magnetoencephalographic (MEG) responses to arrays of elements that either did or did not form global contours. The results demonstrated two spatially and temporally distinct stages of processing: The first, emerging 70 ms after stimulus onset around the calcarine sulcus, was sensitive to local features only, whereas the second, starting at 130 ms across the occipital and posterior parietal cortices, reflected the global configuration. To explore the links between cortical activity and visual recognition, Studies II III presented subjects with recognition tasks of varying levels of difficulty. The occipito-temporal responses from 150 ms onwards were closely linked to recognition performance, in contrast to the 100-ms mid-occipital responses. The averaged responses increased gradually as a function of recognition performance, and further analysis (Study III) showed the single response strengths to be graded as well. Study IV addressed the attention dependence of the different processing stages: Occipito-temporal responses peaking around 150 ms depended on the content of the visual field (faces vs. houses), whereas the later and more sustained activity was strongly modulated by the observers attention. Hemodynamic responses paralleled the pattern of the more sustained electrophysiological responses. Study V assessed the temporal processing capacity of the human object recognition system. Above sufficient luminance, contrast and size of the object, the processing speed was not limited by such low-level factors. Taken together, these studies demonstrate several distinct stages in the cortical activation sequence underlying the object recognition chain, reflecting the level of feature integration, difficulty of recognition, and direction of attention.
  • Lahti, Marius (Helsingin yliopisto, 2012)
    Previous studies suggest that a suboptimal early life environment may predict an increased risk of adult personality disorders. However, most of this evidence is based on studies with retrospective accounts of early adversity. This retrospective design may induce a bias and hinder interpretation of the direction of causality. This thesis examines, in a longitudinal study setting, the developmental origins of personality disorders severe enough to justify hospitalisation. The focus is on pre- and postnatal growth and on parental separation in childhood due to temporary evacuations from Finland during World War II in the etiology of both any and dramatic personality disorders requiring hospitalisation. The study cohort is the Helsinki Birth Cohort Study, which comprises 13,345 individuals born 1934-1944. Data on early life growth, on childhood evacuations, and on the diagnoses of personality disorders were drawn from birth- and child welfare records and national registers. These objective record- and register-based data enabled the longitudinal design of the studies. In the current study cohort, there were 1,781 individuals who had been separated from their parents in childhood. There were 202 subjects who had been hospitalised for personality disorders, and 77 individuals with dramatic personality disorders. The results showed that a small head circumference and a small head-to-length ratio at birth predicted an increased risk of any severe personality disorder among men and a small placental surface area at birth predicted dramatic personality disorders among women. Slower gain in BMI between birth and six months of age, faster gains in weight and in BMI between six months and one year, and slower gains in weight and in BMI between seven and 11 years of age also predicted personality disorders among men. Slower height growth between two and seven years of age predicted an increased risk of personality disorders among women. The associations between infancy and childhood growth and severe personality disorders among men were especially characteristic of dramatic personality disorders, and were independent of comorbid mood disorders. Temporary separation from parents, particularly in the first five years of life, predicted an increased risk of severe personality disorders, and among men, of dramatic personality disorders. The effects of early parental separation were specific to personality disorders, since they emerged in comparisons to both healthy control participants and to individuals with other mental disorders. These longitudinal study findings strongly support an etiological role for early life, both pre- and postnatal, environmental adversity in the development of severe personality disorders, especially dramatic personality disorders. Vulnerability to severe personality disorders is developmentally programmed in early life.
  • Mononen, Riikka (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    The purpose of this thesis was to investigate the effectiveness of early mathematics interventions for young children with low performance in mathematics. Previous research has indicated that early mathematics skills are a strong predictor of later mathematics performance. The goal of early mathematics support by means of interventions is to improve mathematics performance, and consequently, to diminish the possibility of mathematics learning disability emerging later on. This thesis sought to complement and extend previous research in the field of early mathematics interventions, by reviewing early mathematics interventions, and investigating the effectiveness of two early mathematics intervention programmes. Study I reviewed mathematics interventions (N = 19) aimed at 4–7-year-old children with low performance in mathematics. For each intervention, effect sizes were calculated for mathematics outcome measures, and the pedagogical implementation was described. The effectiveness of the RightStart Mathematics (RS) (Cotter, 2001) instruction was investigated in Studies II and III. In Study II, the instruction was provided for Finnish kindergartners (RS group: n = 38, comparison group: n = 32) in general education classrooms, with focus on low-performing children. In Study III, the RS instruction was provided in special education classrooms for children with a specific language impairment (SLI group: n = 9, comparison group: n = 32). In Study IV, a mathematics intervention programme Improving Mathematics Skills in the Second Grade (IMS-2) (Mononen & Aunio, 2012) was developed, and its effectiveness for second graders performing low in mathematics was examined (IMS-2 group: n = 11, low-performing controls: n = 13 and typically performing controls: n = 64). In Studies II-IV, quantitative methods were used for analysing the interventions’ effects. According to the results of the review, in the majority of the interventions, the mathematics skills of the participating children improved more than the skills of the children in control groups, with effect sizes varying from small to large. Progress in mathematics learning was evident when instruction included one or more of the following instructional features: explicit instruction, peer-assisted instruction, applying a concrete-representational-abstract sequence, computer assisted instruction, or games. Study II showed that the RS instruction was as effective as the typical Finnish kindergarten mathematics instruction. The counting skills of the initially low-performing children improved to the level of their typically performing peers. Follow-up in the first grade revealed performance differences between the initially low- and typically performing children, highlighting the importance of continuously monitoring progress, and providing intensified support. In Study III, children with a SLI receiving RS instruction improved their counting skills to the level of their peers. In the first grade follow-up, the children with SLI performed similarly to their peers in addition and subtraction skills (accuracy) and multi-digit number comparison. In Study IV, the mathematics skills of the second graders participating in the IMS-2 intervention did not improve more than the skills of the children in control groups. However, the study provided valuable information about the functionality of the IMS-2 programme’s intensity and content. To conclude, in general, the results indicate that rather than waiting for children to fail, mathematics interventions can be used successfully to promote the early mathematics skills of children with low performance in mathematics, already before the onset of formal schooling and in the early grades. Therefore, identifying low performance in mathematics and providing sufficient support should be emphasised already in early childhood education, in accordance with the Finnish three-tiered educational support system. Keywords: early mathematics skills, low performance in mathematics, mathematics learning disability, mathematics intervention, review, specific language impairment, educational support
  • Jauhiainen, Johanna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2013)
    Within the framework of a national science and mathematics education development program a long-term physics teachers training program was organized. The aim of the program was to enhance teachers pedagogical content knowledge, especially regarding the role of experiments in physics education. The role of experiments was discussed based on a practical teaching philosophy called perceptional approach. The research aimed at exploring teachers experience of the training program, as well as the effect it had on their beliefs about the role of experiments and the concept of interaction (interacting bodies) in teaching Newtonian mechanics. Moreover, the goal was to examine the influence of teachers' beliefs about interaction on students conceptual understanding of force. The model of pedagogical content knowledge and the model of practical conceptual change formed the frameworks for the research. The results of the teacher survey showed that teachers considered the training valuable for their daily teaching practice. The laboratory course was regarded to be most valuable. The course dealing with theoretical principles of the perceptional approach was less advantageous. Approximately 20% of the teachers had changed their beliefs in the use of experiments after the ideas represented in the training program. There were no significant differences between the experimental and control groups in the views regarding the reasons for using experiments in teaching physics. The most important objective for practical work was to enhance students learning of concepts. According to teacher interviews, some teachers were influenced by the program and the way experiments could be used in supporting the creation of meanings for concepts. However, some teachers strongly held to their previous beliefs. The effect of the training program on teachers beliefs about the concept of interaction as an organizing principle in teaching mechanics was examined using teacher interviews. The results showed no remarkable effects. However, the explicit use of interaction as a guiding principle in teaching Newtonian mechanics enhanced students conceptual understanding of force as measured with the Force Concept Inventory, which was translated into Finnish.
  • Ahveninen, Jyrki (Helsingin yliopisto, 2000)
  • Kelo, Marjatta (Helsingin yliopisto, 2013)
    The aim of the research, conducted between 2008 and 2011, was to obtain knowledge of patient education, to enable the development of empowering patient education, and promote nurses competence of diabetes education. To achieve this goal, an educational intervention for school-age children s diabetes education was developed and the implementation of the intervention was evaluated. The approach chosen was design-based research including preparing for, implementing and evaluating the intervention. To serve as the basis for the intervention development in the preparation phase, data concerning patient education were collected from nurses (n = 45) working in paediatric units, school-age children with a chronic illness (N = 12) and their parents (N = 19). In addition, an integrative review including 22 research articles of self-care for school-age children with diabetes was conducted and utilized. The intervention was developed as a collaborative effort by a team comprising research (N = 2), patient education (N = 2), paediatric nursing (N = 5) and diabetes management (N = 2) experts and the parents of children with a chronic illness (N = 2). The intervention ward was consulted during the design process. In the implementation phase, the nurses were instructed how to use the intervention and the intervention was applied to nursing practice for about one year. In the evaluation phase, nurses descriptions (n = 11) were collected with semi-structured interviews. In nurses patient education descriptions, their empowering behaviour consisted of a process based on the holistically assessed educational needs. The objectives were based on the patient s needs and nurses were prepared for the patient education. Patient education was implemented by interactive child- and family-centred counselling. The learning achievements were verified using several methods promoting patient participation. The elements of traditional behaviour were deficient needs assessment, deficient planning of objectives and preparation, nurse-oriented implementation and deficient evaluation of learning achievements. In the school-age children s and their parents descriptions, nursing competence consisted of knowledge and the ability to care for children and families as well as knowledge of the disease and its management. Didactic competence comprised practical examples of knowledge of teaching children and parents as well as the ability to implement the patient education process. Interpersonal competence manifested itself in the ability to have a dialogue with children and their parents. Self-care of school-age children with diabetes was formed in a learning process involving the objectives of normality, being able to cope and independence. The content of self-care was a combination of knowledge and skills. The factors related to self-care comprised the characteristics of the child; the nature of the illness and care; and support from the parents, school environment, peers and health care team. In the intervention, blood glucose monitoring education was described as a process including the assessment of learning needs, planning, implementation and evaluation. The intervention contained instructions on how to implement the process taking into account school-age children s developmental stage, the principles of teaching them and empowering patient education methods. After implementing the intervention, nurses described the successful management of the empowering patient education process that was consistent with the intervention. Three types of challenges were encountered in applying the intervention. The challenges were related to management and leadership, ambivalence with traditional and empowering patient education, and client s situation. The research produced new information to be used in patient education development. The intervention can be utilized to standardize patient education and promote empowering patient education, but more research is needed to evaluate the intervention comprehensively.
  • Loukomies, Anni (Helsingin yliopisto, 2013)
    An inquiry-based site visit teaching sequence for school science was designed in co-operation with researchers and science teachers, according to the principles of Design Based Research (DBR). Out-of-school industry site visits were central in the design. Theory-based conjectures arising from the literature on motivation, interest and inquiry-based science teaching (IBST) were embodied in the design solution, and these embodied conjectures were studied in order to uncover the aspects of the design related to students motivation and interest. The design solution was researched throughout the process. The aim of the design was to generate a phenomenon to be investigated in the research stage. The aim of the research was to clarify which particular aspects of the design have appealed particular students and enhanced their motivation and interest, and what scientific content students have learnt within the project. In this research report, the iterative design process with several implementations of the site visit teaching sequence, research methodology and the results that emerged, are considered. The design process took place in the years 2007 2009. A pilot cycle, two implementation-refinement cycles and a final trial were conducted. Lower secondary school students (age 14 15) participated in the cycles. Data were collected using a mixed-methods approach. The students experiences of school science were mapped with the Evaluation of Science Inquiry Activities Questionnaire (ESIAQ) before and after the implementations. The students Self-determination theory (SDT) based motivation orientations were examined using the Academic Motivation Questionnaire (AMQ) before the implementations. Both questionnaires are based on SDT. Students with different motivational profiles and their teachers were interviewed using a semi-structured interview protocol. The interviews were analysed by employing a theory-driven content analysis approach. The students representations of the scientific content of the sequence were examined by comparing the informal mind maps they constructed before and after the sequence, and with interviews. The results of the research reveal that a teaching sequence that combines inquiry activities, industry site visits and writing tasks contains the potential to enhance students feeling of relevance of their science studies and promote motivation and interest in school science. When asked about the most motivating aspects of the teaching sequence, students emphasised different aspects depending on their motivational profile. Students with an autonomous motivation orientation emphasised the support for their independent planning and decision making and support for their personal interest, whereas amotivated students reported an increase in their feeling of the relevance of studying. The results show that students in science classes value different aspects of science learning based on their motivational profile. The site visit teaching sequence offers science teachers an appropriate way of differentiating teaching according to students different needs. Because the research problems of this research project are multifaceted, concerning the design process, students motivation and students learning of the scientific content of the sequence, the problems of design, motivation and learning are reported in three different sub-studies, each containing specific research questions, data analysis and discussion. Keywords: motivation orientation, industry site visit, design-based research, inquiry-based science teaching
  • Suhonen, Eira (Helsingin yliopisto, 2009)
    How toddlers with special needs adjust to the daycare setting A multiple case study of how the relationships with adults and children are built The aim in this study is to describe how toddlers with special needs adjust to daycare. The emotional well-being and involvement in daycare activities of toddlers are especially investigated in this study. The relationship and how it is built between an adult and a child, a child and a child is examined. The daycare is examined through the socio-cultural theory as a pedagogical institution, where the child adapts by participating in social and cultural activities with the others. The development of the child is the result of the experiences that are gained through the constant relationship between the child, the family and social context. By the attachment theory the inner self-regulation, that allows the child safely adapt to new situations, develops most in the relationship between the child under 3years of age and the attending adult. The relationships between toddlers in daycare are usually built by the coincidental encounters in play and daily activities. In these relationships, the toddler gets the information of themselves and the other children. The complexity of the rules in the setting that organize the social action is challenging for the children and they need constant support from the adults. The participants of the study were five toddlers with special needs. When applying to daycare they were less than three years old and they got the specialist statement for their special needs, and the reference for daycare. The children were observed by recording their attending in the daycare once in the 3-4 months from the first day in daycare. Approximately 15 hours of material that was analysed with the Transana-program. The qualitative material was analysed by first collecting a descriptive model that explains and theorises the phenomenon. By the summery of the narrative it is placed a hypothesis that is tested by quantitative methods using correlations and variance analyses and general linear modeling that is used to count the differences between repeated measures and connections between different variables. The results of the study are built theoretically for the consistent conception between the theory and the findings in research. The toddlers in the study were all dependent on the support given by the adults in all the situations in the daycare. They could not associate with the other children without the support of the adults and their involvement in activities was low. The engagement of an adult in interaction was necessary for the children’s involvement in activities, and the co-operation with the other children. The engagement of teachers was statistically significantly higher than the engagement of other professions.
  • Alijoki, Alisa (Helsingin yliopisto, 2006)
    The purpose of this follow-up study is to analyse stages of learning and teaching of children with special needs in pre-school and the first two grades of elementary school. The target group included 270 children with special needs. The three year follow-up period for each child began during the pre-school year, and continued until the spring of the second grade in elementary school. Various diagnoses were detected among children in the study group. The disorders were categorised in six classes: the developmentally delayed, children with language development disorder, children with emotional and behavioural disorders, children with attention deficit, children with other non-cognitive disorders and children with extensive developmental disorders. The study's starting point was the situation in pre-school: how the children were placed in pre-school, and what kinds of support they were offered? The purpose of the study was to describe how children with special needs move from different types of groups in pre-school to the different types of classes in the first two grades of elementary school. I also examined how well the children with special needs succeeded in the first two grades of elementary school. An additional purpose was to find out what connections there may be between the paths taken by children with special needs when they move from pre-school to elementary school, the types of support they get, and how they succeed academically in elementary school. The data were gathered mainly by means of questionnaires. In addition the children were studied by means of tests designed to estimate their academic skills at the end of the second grade. In analysing the data I used both quantitative and qualitative methods. Six paths were identified among the children in the study group, based on whether a child was in a group or a class given special teaching or in an ordinary group or class during pre-school and the first two grades of elementary school. In this study, about 53% of the children with special needs moved from pre-school to a regular class in elementary school, and about 47% of the children received special education in elementary school. Among the ordinary groups (n = 69) in pre-school the majority of children (73 %) moved to a regular class in elementary school. Among the children receiving special education (n = 201) in pre-school, 46% moved to a regular class in elementary school. That path turned out to be the one followed by the greatest number of children. Only rarely did children move from an ordinary group in pre-school to a special education class in elementary school. Examination of the results according to the children's transition paths also links together with the viewpoint of integration and segregation. This study indicates that in pre-school special education groups, a significantly greater number of methods supporting children's development were used than in the conventional education groups. The difference was at its greatest inconnection with the use of so-called special rehabilitation methods. A quite wide range of variation was observed in how the children succeeded in elementary school. Success in the tests designed to estimate the children's academic skills was poor for 31% of the children (n = 230) in the first grade study group. For 69 % of the children, however, success in the tests was at least satisfactory. In the second grade study group 34 % of the children (N = 216) got through all the three tests estimating academic skills acceptably. According to this study, a number of children with special needs require special support throughout pre-school and the first two grades of elementary school. The results show that if the children received special support during the pre-school year, a number were able to participate in regular education in elementary school. Keywords: a child with special needs, measures of support, transitions, achievements in school
  • Bernelius, Venla (Helsingin yliopisto, 2013)
    The differentiation of public schools and the growing popularity of school choice in Helsinki have become widely discussed issues in Finland marked by internationally acclaimed PISA-results during recent years. At the same time researchers have documented a noticeable growth in the spatial socioeconomic and ethnic segregation within the city. The aim of this doctoral thesis is to analyse the effects of growing spatial segregation to schools and study the mechanisms by which the differentiation of schools and individual pupils outcomes is connected to the changing socio-spatial structure of the city. The theoretical standpoint is one of the central questions in the field of urban geography: the way in which urban socio-spatial structure affects individuals and social processes. The main research question is, whether internationally described processes of urban segregation and school segregation can be shown to operate also in the egalitarian Finnish context, and whether there are signals of neighbourhood effects or school effects within the neighbourhoods and schools of Helsinki. The quantitative research has been conducted through several individual research designs, which have been designed to focus on the key mechanisms linked to processes of segregation. The research shows that the changing patterns of spatial socioeconomic and ethnic differentiation have a profound effect to the conditions in which the urban schools operate, especially through the differentiation of the schools student base. Similarly the schools reputation and popularity are connected to the socio-spatial characteristics of the neighbourhoods in ways which shape school choices and housing choices the made by educationally motivated families. One of the key observations is that the rejection of schools in relatively disadvantaged neighbourhoods is particularly consistent. The results provide evidence of processes of segregation in the neighbourhoods and schools in Helsinki, as well as suggest that there is a possibility of a trend of polarisation through the relative disadvantage and advantage of certain neighbourhoods and schools in the observed processes. The interconnected developments can affect both urban schools and neighbourhoods in the future, if the (un)popularity of certain schools influences not only the school choices, but also the housing choices of urban families.
  • Brotherus, Annu (Helsingin yliopisto, 2004)
  • Ruokonen, Inkeri (Helsingin yliopisto, 2005)
  • Heikkilä, Veli Matti (Helsingin yliopisto, 2008)
    In the future the number of the disabled drivers requiring a special evaluation of their driving ability will increase due to the ageing population, as well as the progress of adaptive technology. This places pressure on the development of the driving evaluation system. Despite quite intensive research there is still no consensus concerning what is the factual situation in a driver evaluation (methodology), which measures should be included in an evaluation (methods), and how an evaluation has to be carried out (practise). In order to find answers to these questions we carried out empirical studies, and simultaneously elaborated upon a conceptual model for driving and a driving evaluation. The findings of empirical studies can be condensed into the following points: 1) A driving ability defined by the on-road driving test is associated with different laboratory measures depending on the study groups. Faults in the laboratory tests predicted faults in the on-road driving test in the novice group, whereas slowness in the laboratory predicted driving faults in the experienced drivers group. 2) The Parkinson study clearly showed that even an experienced clinician cannot reliably accomplish an evaluation of a disabled person’s driving ability without collaboration with other specialists. 3) The main finding of the stroke study was that the use of a multidisciplinary team as a source of information harmonises the specialists’ evaluations. 4) The patient studies demonstrated that the disabled persons themselves, as well as their spouses, are as a rule not reliable evaluators. 5) From the safety point of view, perceptible operations with the control devices are not crucial, but correct mental actions which the driver carries out with the help of the control devices are of greatest importance. 6) Personality factors including higher-order needs and motives, attitudes and a degree of self-awareness, particularly a sense of illness, are decisive when evaluating a disabled person’s driving ability. Personality is also the main source of resources concerning compensations for lower-order physical deficiencies and restrictions. From work with the conceptual model we drew the following methodological conclusions: First, the driver has to be considered as a holistic subject of the activity, as a multilevel hierarchically organised system of an organism, a temperament, an individuality, and a personality where the personality is the leading subsystem from the standpoint of safety. Second, driving as a human form of a sociopractical activity, is also a hierarchically organised dynamic system. Third, in an evaluation of driving ability it is a question of matching these two hierarchically organised structures: a subject of an activity and a proper activity. Fourth, an evaluation has to be person centred but not disease-, function- or method centred. On the basis of our study a multidisciplinary team (practitioner, driving school teacher, psychologist, occupational therapist) is recommended for use in demanding driver evaluations. Primary in a driver’s evaluations is a coherent conceptual model while concrete methods of evaluations may vary. However, the on-road test must always be performed if possible.
  • Saher, Marieke (Helsingin yliopisto, 2006)
    The series of studies addresses several everyday beliefs about food and health from the perspective of everyday thinking and paranormal beliefs. They are "you are what you eat" beliefs, attitudes towards genetically modified and organic foods, and belief in alternative medicine. The survey studies included from 239 to 3261 Finnish participants. It was found that food consumption can have far-stretching consequences for the impressions of the eater in a "you are what you eat" manner. The results also demonstrated that belief in alternative medicine was related to belief in the paranormal, as were to a lesser degree attitudes towards genetically modified and organic foods. The study also addressed paranormal beliefs and belief in alternative medicine from the perspective of category observance. Paranormal believers as well as believers in alternative medicine were much more liberal than skeptics in violating categorical boundaries and attributed, for example, intentionality (mental) to body growth (biological) and life (biological) to energy (physical). In addition, the study addressed the relation of these attitudes and beliefs with preferred thinking style. The results demonstrated that belief in alternative medicine was especially appealing to intuitive thinkers, while rational thinking was unrelated to it. The same pattern was demonstrated for negative attitudes towards genetically modified food and positive attitudes towards organic food. In addition, it was demonstrated, however, that such unscientific notions may exist not instead of but parallel with "better knowledge". In sum, the present thesis contributes to the understanding of superstitious elements in various everyday attitudes and beliefs, and investigates their relationship with general inclinations towards belief in the paranormal. It appears that some very common everyday beliefs and attitudes about food and health contain elements of a superstitious nature. Involving conceptual enmeshment they go beyond mere associations, and can coincide with scientifically valid views on the same topic.
  • Nuutinen, Maaria (Helsingin yliopisto, 2006)
    The point of departure in this dissertation was the practical safety problem of unanticipated, unfamiliar events and unexpected changes in the environment, the demanding situations which the operators should take care of in the complex socio-technical systems. The aim of this thesis was to increase the understanding of demanding situations and of the resources for coping with these situations by presenting a new construct, a conceptual model called Expert Identity (ExId) as a way to open up new solutions to the problem of demanding situations and by testing the model in empirical studies on operator work. The premises of the Core-Task Analysis (CTA) framework were adopted as a starting point: core-task oriented working practices promote the system efficiency (incl. safety, productivity and well-being targets) and that should be supported. The negative effects of stress were summarised and the possible countermeasures related to the operators' personal resources such as experience, expertise, sense of control, conceptions of work and self etc. were considered. ExId was proposed as a way to bring emotional-energetic depth into the work analysis and to supplement CTA-based practical methods to discover development challenges and to contribute to the development of complex socio-technical systems. The potential of ExId to promote understanding of operator work was demonstrated in the context of the six empirical studies on operator work. Each of these studies had its own practical objectives within the corresponding quite broad focuses of the studies. The concluding research questions were: 1) Are the assumptions made in ExId on the basis of the different theories and previous studies supported by the empirical findings? 2) Does the ExId construct promote understanding of the operator work in empirical studies? 3) What are the strengths and weaknesses of the ExId construct? The layers and the assumptions of the development of expert identity appeared to gain evidence. The new conceptual model worked as a part of an analysis of different kinds of data, as a part of different methods used for different purposes, in different work contexts. The results showed that the operators had problems in taking care of the core task resulting from the discrepancy between the demands and resources (either personal or external). The changes of work, the difficulties in reaching the real content of work in the organisation and the limits of the practical means of support had complicated the problem and limited the possibilities of the development actions within the case organisations. Personal resources seemed to be sensitive to the changes, adaptation is taking place, but not deeply or quickly enough. Furthermore, the results showed several characteristics of the studied contexts that complicated the operators' possibilities to grow into or with the demands and to develop practices, expertise and expert identity matching the core task. They were: discontinuation of the work demands, discrepancy between conceptions of work held in the other parts of organisation, visions and the reality faced by the operators, emphasis on the individual efforts and situational solutions. The potential of ExId to open up new paths to solving the problem of the demanding situations and its ability to enable studies on practices in the field was considered in the discussion. The results were interpreted as promising enough to encourage the conduction of further studies on ExId. This dissertation proposes especially contribution to supporting the workers in recognising the changing demands and their possibilities for growing with them when aiming to support human performance in complex socio-technical systems, both in designing the systems and solving the existing problems.