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  • 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.
  • Johnson Longfor, Rita Waye (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    The aim of this study was to describe, analyse and interpret secondary school language teachers conceptions and methods of teaching English as a second language in Cameroon, the justification of their methods and how they scaffolded their students study processes. This was investigated through the following three research questions: (1) What are the main language teaching methods of Cameroon teachers of English as a second language? (2) In what ways do Cameroon teachers of English as a second language justify the language teaching methods they use? (3) In what ways do Cameroon teachers of English as a second language scaffold their students study processes? The data were gathered from five Cameroon teachers of English as a second language from six classes (Form 1 5) in three schools through participant observation. 1) Semi-structured interviews were conducted with the five teachers after lesson observations, 2) a focus group interview was conducted with six teachers of English, 3) a national pedagogic inspector for English second language teaching at the Cameroon Ministry of Education was also interviewed, and 4) informal discussions were held with the participants in order to get a better view of the context and participants. In addition to this, a number of documents were consulted: the Cameroon syllabus/scheme of work, a ministerial circular defining the objectives and organisation of bilingualism at secondary schools in Cameroon, and professional development objectives of the Cameroon English Language and Literature Teachers Association (CAMELTA). The field work period lasted from February 2010 until June 2010. The data were analysed through qualitative content analysis methods. The findings of the present study indicate that the five teachers main language teaching methods were not in line with communicative language teaching methodology since the English second language teaching was highly teacher-centred and the emphasis was on grammar and examinations. Discussions on meaningful language input, functional and skill language learning theories, however, pointed to their awareness of communicative principles. The justification for the use of a non-communicative approach focused on restrictions in the school context, the home context and restrictions coming from the Cameroon Ministry of Education. These contextual restrictions nevertheless affected the five teachers teaching and their conceptions of ESL on personal and professional levels. However, as this study indicates, justifications underpinned by theory and not drawing solely on personal maxims and opting for the best of poor alternatives can still have a positive impact on the language teaching situation. In everyday language teaching, scaffolding English second language students was an important consideration and the students study processes was scaffolded in many ways. The analysed data show encouraging signs of English second language teachers willingness to engage in scaffolding within lesson frameworks, provide a safe supportive study environment, inquire into and pay attention to students previous knowledge, but the results also reflect that the knowledge of when to fully withdraw scaffolding to help the student gain independence was still undeveloped. The highly examination-oriented environment, the teachers practical approach to teaching English as a second language and the non-support of the Cameroon Ministry of Education in the professional development of language teachers are some of the current problems in the teaching of English as a second language. The findings of this study suggest that the Cameroon Ministry of Education should play a more active role in promoting the didactic teaching studying learning process of English as a second official language in Cameroon and in changing the conceptions of how to teach this language. The findings emphasise the need for designing professional development courses, providing opportunities for teachers to reflect on and discuss their teaching experiences and for redefining their role as professionals. Keywords: English as a second language; communicative language teaching; language teachers pedagogical justifications; scaffolding; teaching studying learning process; didactics; professional development
  • Gerouki, Margarita (2010)
    This study examines how sex education is currently developed and implemented in Greek primary schools. The four publications that comprise it explore the following themes: (1) the position and visibility of sex education as one of the topics for health education programme development; (2) the inhibiting and enhancing factors in the development and implementation of primary school sex education programmes; (3) how issues of sex, sexuality, the human body and romantic relationships are visually and textually represented in primary school textbooks; (4) the impact of sex education on teachers and pupils; and (5) teachers experiences as practitioners who deal with sexuality- related issues at school. -- The research was based on conducting multiple sub-studies using a mixed-methods approach. Specifically, qualitative and quantitative data were collected and analysed. The initial quantitative data that had been obtained by questionnaire was followed by the collection and analysis of qualitative data. The qualitative data were acquired by way of examining one particular case, various texts, interviews with teachers and self-reflective material. The results of the sub-studies are presented in a more detailed manner in the study s four publications. -- In general, the sub-studies found that sex education as an educational activity occupies a marginal place within the instructional practices of Greek primary school teachers, since the subject is hardly mentioned in classroom material, such as textbooks. However, engaging in the provision of sex education programmes can become a meaningful and rewarding experience for many teachers as well as pupils and their families. Further, teachers classroom experiences pointed to school settings as sexualized environments. These contextual factors and conditions nevertheless affected teachers practices and perceptions on a personal and professional level.Health indicators in Greece provide a picture of a population that faces various sexual health related problems. However, as many studies (including this work) indicate, sex education programmes that meet specific standards can have a positive impact on students overall health and well-being. Sex education teaching has always been a controversial issue. Its successful implementation in Greece demands knowledgeable educators and responsible policy-makers. The findings of this study suggest that the content of Greek primary school textbooks needs to be revised in order to include texts and pictures that deal with the human body and human sexuality, encourage pupils to become involved in designing the content and methods of programmes and give teachers the opportunity to reflect on and discuss their experiences. Keywords: sex education, primary school, Greece
  • Parpala, Anna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2010)
    The aim of this dissertation was to adapt a questionnaire for assessing students’ approaches to learning and their experiences of the teaching-learning environment. The aim was to explore the validity of the modified Experiences of Teaching and Learning Questionnaire (ETLQ) by examining how the instruments measure the underlying dimensions of student experiences and their learning. The focus was on the relation between students’ experiences of their teaching-learning environment and their approaches to learning. Moreover, the relation between students’ experiences and students’ and teachers’ conceptions of good teaching was examined. In Study I the focus was on the use of the ETLQ in two different contexts: Finnish and British. The study aimed to explore the similarities and differences between the factor structures that emerged from both data sets. The results showed that the factor structures concerning students’ experiences of their teaching-learning environment and their approaches to learning were highly similar in the two contexts. Study I also examined how students’ experiences of the teaching-learning environment are related to their approaches to learning in the two contexts. The results showed that students’ positive experiences of their teaching-learning environment were positively related to their deep approach to learning and negatively to the surface approach to learning in both the Finnish and British data sets. This result was replicated in Study II, which examined the relation between approaches to learning and experiences of the teaching-learning environment on a group level. Furthermore, Study II aimed to explore students’ approaches to learning and their experiences of the teaching-learning environment in different disciplines. The results showed that the deep approach to learning was more common in the soft sciences than in the hard sciences. In Study III, students’ conceptions of good teaching were explored by using qualitative methods, more precisely, by open-ended questions. The aim was to examine students’ conceptions, disciplinary differences and their relation to students’ approaches to learning. The focus was on three disciplines, which differed in terms of students’ experiences of their teaching-learning environment. The results showed that students’ conceptions of good teaching were in line with the theory of good teaching and there were disciplinary differences in their conceptions. Study IV examined university teachers’ conceptions of good teaching, which corresponded to the learning-focused approach to teaching. Furthermore, another aim in this doctoral dissertation was to compare the students’ and teachers’ conceptions of good teaching, the results of which showed that these conceptions appear to have similarities. The four studies indicated that the ETLQ appears to be a sufficiently robust measurement instrument in different contexts. Moreover, its strength is its ability to be at the same time a valid research instrument and a practical tool for enhancing the quality of students’ learning. In addition, the four studies emphasise that in order to enhance teaching and learning in higher education, various perspectives have to be taken into account. This study sheds light on the interaction between students’ approaches to learning, their conceptions of good teaching, their experiences of the teaching-learning environment, and finally, the disciplinary culture.
  • Lappi, Otto (Helsingin yliopisto, 2013)
    The thesis presents three studies on the visual control of locomotion. Each investigates the visual behaviour of human subjects driving a car. The focus is on the basic visual behaviours involved in the task of negotiating bends in a road car, at normal road speeds. The aim was to investigate the properties of visual behaviour relevant to the two predominant classes of visual steering models in the lite¬rature: tangent point models, and future path models. Study I is the first on-road study where the visual projection of the future path in the field of view is modeled explicitly, enabling a re-evaluation of the generality of the tangent point hypothesis and its methodological grounds based on simple area of interest (AOI) measures incapable of producing decisive evidence, prompting the need for complementary data. Empirically and theoretically, the future path can be considered a potential gaze target that is as equally valid as the tangent point. Study II is the first on-road study to demonstrate optokinetic nystagmus (periodic, slow eye movements) in curve-driving. Combining eye-movement data with vehicle telemetry, we were able to show that the fixations lose their pursuit-like appearance, and are stable relative to real allocentric locations. Study III used these optokinetic pursuit movements as a means to empirically contrast the tangent point and future path models. We found that 1) the gaze position was typically above the tangent point, and displays a large horizontal variation in relation to it, being spread into the far zone along the future path, 2) the optokinetic pursuit had a horizontal component in the direction opposite to the bend and 3) the magnitude of the horizontal component of the pursuit movements was approximately equal to one half of the vehicle yaw rate. All three observations are what one would predict given the hypothesis that the drivers were targeting fixed target points on the future path beyond the tangent point and tracking them with pursuit eye movements, but difficult to reconcile with a tangent point strategy. This pattern of results in the three studies is consistent with the drivers targeting points on the future path instead of, or in addition to, the tangent point. This challenges the generality of the tangent point hypothesis as an account of where we look when we steer.
  • Igna, Cornel (Helsingin yliopisto, 2013)
    Previous research has shown that negative affectivity (NA) and lifestyle associate with CVD/CHD risk factors. In the present thesis the relationships between some key indicators of NA (depressive symptoms, vital exhaustion, hopelessness, and anger expression) and lifestyle factors, body mass index, serum lipids and blood pressure were investigated. All the four studies that constitute this investigation were based on data from the Helsinki Metabolic Syndrome Prevention Trial, which was an uncontrolled preventive trial aimed at improving prevention of metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases by developing a practical method for primary health care. The main idea was to screen and identify men with cardiovascular risk clustering and give them individual counselling based on their risk profile. Evaluation of risk was based on a Risk Index that included five factors: body mass index, total serum cholesterol, blood pressure (systolic and diastolic), smoking habits, and physical inactivity. The participants in the screening were 40-55 year-old-men residing in the north-east Helsinki. Data collection was carried out between May 2001 and June 2004, and all the participants were asked to answer questionnaires dealing with lifestyle factors and psychosocial risk factors. Study nurses from the Helsinki Heart District interviewed all the participants and recorded basic biomedical measurements (e.g. blood pressure, waist circumference, weight). The size of the sample in studies I-IV was 893, 705, 444, and 710, respectively. The findings of this study indicate that depressive symptoms had a consistent statistically significant correlation with adverse lifestyle factors and triglycerides. For cholesterol fractions, path analyses indicated the parallel existence of two main pathways: from depression through the adverse health behaviour to an unfavourable cholesterol fraction balance, and from depression through a direct, probably physiological, link to favourable cholesterol levels.
  • Kosonen, Kari (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    Over the past decades the sense making of learners by means of various external models and representations has received educational researchers heightened attention (Ainsworth, 2006; Hay and Kinchin, 2006; Furberg et al., 2013). Similarly, the particular function of domain-specific concepts in the transformation of learners thinking and understanding remains an issue repeatedly approached from the perspective of various theoretical frameworks and empirical findings (Land, Rattray et al., 2014; Meyer and Land, 2005). The present doctoral thesis sheds light on how the learners that aim to understand multifaceted conceptual objects can be supported by the instructional tools sensitive to the specific conceptual organization of these phenomena. The thesis includes four studies. Studies I-III focused on the development and testing of an instructional meta-model based on frequent expository text structures with blind readers. Study IV explored the use of modeling language based on this model in a domain-specific pedagogical setting in higher education. Studies I-III aimed to develop and explore the use of a conceptual meta-model in guiding the young blind participants to process such complex conceptual objects as expository texts in reading for understanding. The context of Study IV remarkably differed from the contexts of Studies I-III due to the specific conceptual dimensions of the topic of the investigated seminar, which were qualitative and mixed methods. While the pedagogical challenges of Studies I-III were related to the participants blindness and their problems in cognitive functioning and with the structures of the processed text, the conceptual complexity of the topic of the investigated seminar on qualitative and mixed methods, in turn, constituted the main pedagogical challenge in Study IV. The meta-model was used as a generic conceptual frame in designing the context-specific modeling language to highlight some crucial concepts and conceptual relations suggested to be used in digital concept mapping. To circumvent the limitations of the conventional hierarchical structure of concept maps the modeling language used was endowed with specific elements, language codes. These codes were meant to afford the processing of both static conceptual relations and various practice related and functional dependencies in the domain when the participants created concept maps on qualitative and mixed methods. In all four studies the participants activities investigated were theoretically conceptualized and operationalized as various forms of orienting activity mediated by cultural tools. This theoretical focus of the present dissertation study is based on the Cultural Historical Theory founded by Vygotsky and psychological activity theory-framework. However this framework is integratively implemented capitalizing on some contemporary theoretical perspectives and practical approaches in pedagogical design and developmental psychology. Consequently, learners activity and instructional discussion are explored as joint orienting activity shaped by cultural tools. This activity is considered to organize various relations and properties underlying the phenomenon being concerned with a point of view that constitutes the perspectival understanding of this phenomenon. The case-study research strategy implemented in the research made it possible to analytically generate a large body of findings that inform practitioners about the potentially applicable ways of using the approach investigated in pedagogical settings. In Study I the participant was found to have internalized the elements of the meta-model as a thinking tool in processing and reflecting on a wide variety of conceptual topics. The findings from both Studies II and III shed light on how the use of the elements of the meta-model allowed the intervener to adjust his guidance to the current form of the blind participants thinking. In Study II the participant s elaborative questions in processing expository texts were found to have transformed in respect to their analyticity and predicted better than previously the content of the texts processed. In Study III the participant was found to gradually incorporate some of the elements of the meta-model as part of his text-structuring actions, which increasingly drew his attention to the frequent expository text-structures that he was previously prone to ignore or misinterpret. In Study IV the participants were found to repeatedly implement some of the contextualized and digitalized elements of the meta-model in elaborating on various dimensions of the field of qualitative and mixed methods as well as the related practices. This repeated use of selected codes supported the maintenance of some conceptual stability of the informational content of the elaborations in the participants concept maps. The teacher of the investigated seminar was found to repeatedly lean on these elaborations in guiding the participants in how to further deepen their knowledge on qualitative and mixed methods.
  • Simsekoglu, Özlem (Helsingin yliopisto, 2009)
    Seat belts are effective safety devices used to protect car occupants from severe injuries and fatalities during road vehicle accidents. Despite the proven effectiveness of seat belts, seat belt use rates are quite low, especially in developing countries, such as Turkey. The general aim of the present study was to investigate a large variety of factors related to seat belt use among Turkish car occupants using different perspectives and methods and therefore, to contribute to the design of effective seat belt use interventions for increasing seat belt use rates in Turkey. Five sub-studies were conducted within the present study. In the first sub-study, environmental (e.g., road type) and psycho-social factors (e.g., belt use by other car occupants) related to the seat belt use of front-seat occupants were investigated using observation techniques. Being male, of a young age, and traveling on city roads were the main factors negatively related to seat belt use. Furthermore, seat belt use by the drivers and front-seat passengers was highly correlated and a significant predictors of each other. In the second sub-study, the motivations of the car occupants for seat belt use and non-use were investigated using interview techniques. Situational conditions, such as traveling on city roads and for short distances, and not believing in the effectiveness and relevance of seat belt use for safety, were the most frequently reported reasons for not using a seat belt. Safety, habit and avoiding punishment were among the most frequently reported reasons for using a seat belt. In the third sub-study, the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) and the Health Belief Model (HBM) were applied to seat belt use using Structural Equation Modeling techniques. The TPB model showed a good fit to the data, whereas the HBM showed a poor fit to the data. Within the TPB model, attitude and subjective norm were significant predictors of intentions to use a seat belt on both urban and rural roads. In the fourth sub-study, seat belt use frequency and motivations for seat belt use among taxi drivers were investigated and compared between free-time and work-time driving using a survey. The results showed that taxi drivers used seat belts more when driving a private car in their free-times compared to when driving a taxi during their work-times. The lack of a legal obligation to use a seat belt in city traffic and fear of being attacked or robbed by the passengers were found as two specific reasons for not using a seat belt when driving a taxi. Lastly, in the fifth sub-study, the relationship of seat belt use to driver and health behaviors was investigated using a survey. Although seat belt use was related both to health and driver behaviors, factor analysis results showed that it grouped with driver behaviors. Based on the results of the sub-studies, a tentative empirical model showing different predictors of seat belt use was proposed. According to the model, safety and normative motivations and perceived physical barriers related to seat belt use are the three important predictors of seat belt use. Keywords: Seat belt use; environmental factors; psycho-social factors; safety and normative motivations; the Theory of Planned Behavior; the Health Belief Model; health behaviors; driver behaviors; front-seat occupants; taxi drivers; Turkey.
  • Radun, Igor (Helsingin yliopisto, 2009)
    Fatigue and sleepiness are major causes of road traffic accidents. However, precise data is often lacking because a validated and reliable device for detecting the level of sleepiness (cf. the breathalyzer for alcohol levels) does not exist, nor does criteria for the unambiguous detection of fatigue/sleepiness as a contributing factor in accident causation. Therefore, identification of risk factors and groups might not always be easy. Furthermore, it is extremely difficult to incorporate fatigue in operationalized terms into either traffic or criminal law. The main aims of this thesis were to estimate the prevalence of fatigue problems while driving among the Finnish driving population, to explore how VALT multidisciplinary investigation teams, Finnish police, and courts recognize (and prosecute) fatigue in traffic, to identify risk factors and groups, and finally to explore the application of the Finnish Road Traffic Act (RTA), which explicitly forbids driving while tired in Article 63. Several different sources of data were used: a computerized database and the original folders of multidisciplinary teams investigating fatal accidents (VALT), the driver records database (AKE), prosecutor and court decisions, a survey of young male military conscripts, and a survey of a representative sample of the Finnish active driving population. The results show that 8-15% of fatal accidents during 1991-2001 were fatigue related, that every fifth Finnish driver has fallen asleep while driving at some point during his/her driving career, and that the Finnish police and courts punish on average one driver per day on the basis of fatigued driving (based on the data from the years 2004-2005). The main finding regarding risk factors and risk groups is that during the summer months, especially in the afternoon, the risk of falling asleep while driving is increased. Furthermore, the results indicate that those with a higher risk of falling asleep while driving are men in general, but especially young male drivers including military conscripts and the elderly during the afternoon hours and the summer in particular; professional drivers breaking the rules about duty and rest hours; and drivers with a tendency to fall asleep easily. A time-of-day pattern of sleep-related incidents was repeatedly found. It was found that VALT teams can be considered relatively reliable when assessing the role of fatigue and sleepiness in accident causation; thus, similar experts might be valuable in the court process as expert witnesses when fatigue or sleepiness are suspected to have a role in an accident’s origins. However, the application of Article 63 of the RTA that forbids, among other things, fatigued driving will continue to be an issue that deserves further attention. This should be done in the context of a needed attitude change towards driving while in a state of extreme tiredness (e.g., after being awake for more than 24 hours), which produces performance deterioration comparable to illegal intoxication (BAC around 0.1%). Regarding the well-known interactive effect of increased sleepiness and even small alcohol levels, the relatively high proportion (up to 14.5%) of Finnish drivers owning and using a breathalyzer raises some concern. This concern exists because these drivers are obviously more focused on not breaking the “magic” line of 0.05% BAC than being concerned about driving impairment, which might be much worse than they realize because of the interactive effects of increased sleepiness and even low alcohol consumption. In conclusion, there is no doubt that fatigue and sleepiness problems while driving are common among the Finnish driving population. While we wait for the invention of reliable devices for fatigue/sleepiness detection, we should invest more effort in raising public awareness about the dangerousness of fatigued driving and educate drivers about how to recognize and deal with fatigue and sleepiness when they ultimately occur.
  • Kurki, Ilmari (Helsingin yliopisto, 2009)
    The earliest stages of human cortical visual processing can be conceived as extraction of local stimulus features. However, more complex visual functions, such as object recognition, require integration of multiple features. Recently, neural processes underlying feature integration in the visual system have been under intensive study. A specialized mid-level stage preceding the object recognition stage has been proposed to account for the processing of contours, surfaces and shapes as well as configuration. This thesis consists of four experimental, psychophysical studies on human visual feature integration. In two studies, classification image a recently developed psychophysical reverse correlation method was used. In this method visual noise is added to near-threshold stimuli. By investigating the relationship between random features in the noise and observer s perceptual decision in each trial, it is possible to estimate what features of the stimuli are critical for the task. The method allows visualizing the critical features that are used in a psychophysical task directly as a spatial correlation map, yielding an effective "behavioral receptive field". Visual context is known to modulate the perception of stimulus features. Some of these interactions are quite complex, and it is not known whether they reflect early or late stages of perceptual processing. The first study investigated the mechanisms of collinear facilitation, where nearby collinear Gabor flankers increase the detectability of a central Gabor. The behavioral receptive field of the mechanism mediating the detection of the central Gabor stimulus was measured by the classification image method. The results show that collinear flankers increase the extent of the behavioral receptive field for the central Gabor, in the direction of the flankers. The increased sensitivity at the ends of the receptive field suggests a low-level explanation for the facilitation. The second study investigated how visual features are integrated into percepts of surface brightness. A novel variant of the classification image method with brightness matching task was used. Many theories assume that perceived brightness is based on the analysis of luminance border features. Here, for the first time this assumption was directly tested. The classification images show that the perceived brightness of both an illusory Craik-O Brien-Cornsweet stimulus and a real uniform step stimulus depends solely on the border. Moreover, the spatial tuning of the features remains almost constant when the stimulus size is changed, suggesting that brightness perception is based on the output of a single spatial frequency channel. The third and fourth studies investigated global form integration in random-dot Glass patterns. In these patterns, a global form can be immediately perceived, if even a small proportion of random dots are paired to dipoles according to a geometrical rule. In the third study the discrimination of orientation structure in highly coherent concentric and Cartesian (straight) Glass patterns was measured. The results showed that the global form was more efficiently discriminated in concentric patterns. The fourth study investigated how form detectability depends on the global regularity of the Glass pattern. The local structure was either Cartesian or curved. It was shown that randomizing the local orientation deteriorated the performance only with the curved pattern. The results give support for the idea that curved and Cartesian patterns are processed in at least partially separate neural systems.
  • Mäkirintala, Eija (Helsingin yliopisto, 2008)
    Most musicians choose a career in music based on their love of the art and a desire to share it with others. However, being a performing musician is highly demanding. Despite considerable evidence of the great frequency of performance-related problems (e.g. debilitating performance anxiety) among professional musicians or aspiring musicians in the current Western classical music tradition these problems are seldom discussed openly. The existing system offers musicians very little help in learning how to build sustainable performance success into their musical career. This study it is first of its kind in Finland which addresses the issue on larger scale in a systematic way. I devised the HOPE intervention (Holistically-Oriented Top Performance and Well-Being Enhancement), in order to learn how to integrate professional peak performance and a sense of personal well-being into the lives and careers of musicians. Unlike most interventions in previous research, the HOPE intervention is explicitly holistic and aims at enhancing the whole musician, not just alleviating performance anxiety. Earlier research has not in principle focused on musicians´ psychological well-being or on their subjective perceptions. The main purpose of the study is to understand the perceived impacts of the specially devised HOPE intervention on the participants and particularly in four key areas: performing, playing or singing well-being, and overall (performing, playing or singing and well-being combined). Furthermore, it is hoped that a deeper understanding of performers´ development will be gained. The research method is interdisciplinary and mainly qualitative. The primary data consist of a series of linked questionnaires (before and after the intervention) and semi-structured follow-up interviews collected during action research-oriented HOPE intervention courses for music majors in the Sibelius Academy. With the longitudinal group called Hope 1, the core data were collected during a nine month HOPE intervention course and from follow-up interviews conducted six months later in 2003-2004. The core data of Hope 1 (nine participants) are compared with the perceived impacts on fifty-three other participants in the HOPE courses during the period since their inception, 2001-2006. The focus is particularly on participants´ subjective perceptions. Results of the study suggest that the HOPE intervention is beneficial in enhancing overall performance capacity, including music performance, and a personal sense of well-being in a music university setting. The findings indicate that within all key areas significant positive changes take place between the beginning and the end of a HOPE intervention course. The longitudinal data imply that the perceived positive changes are still ongoing six months after the HOPE intervention course is finished. The biggest change takes place within the area of performing and the smallest, in participants´ perception of their playing or singing. The main impacts include reduced feelings of stress and anxiety (an enhanced sense of well-being) as well as increased sense of direction and control in one's life. Since the results of the present research gave no other reason to believe otherwise, it is to be expected that the HOPE intervention and the results of the study can be exploited in other areas of human activity as well, especially where continuous professional top performance is a prerequisite such as in business or sports. Keywords: performance enhancement, professional top performance, subjective well-being, subjective perceptions, holism, coaching, music performance anxiety, studying music, music.
  • Huhmarniemi, Saara (Helsingin yliopisto, 2012)
    This thesis investigates Finnish interrogative sentences and similar consructions from the perspective of biolinguistics and the Minimalist Program (Chomsky 1995, Chomsky 2000). Finnish interrogatives display one of the elementary properties of natural language: grammatical movement from one position to another. The movement of the question phrase in an interrogative sentence can be seen as an instance of a more general A′-movement that is typically triggered by discourse factors. The aim of this thesis is to establish an overall view to the A′-movement phenomena in Finnish that functions as a basis for future research on these topics. The focus of the investigation is on two syntactic phenomena: the syntactic edge position that is the target of A′-movement and island conditions that restrict movement to this position. In Finnish interrogative sentences, the question phrase targets the edge of a finite clause. However, the presence of an edge position can be observed in a variety of phrases in Finnish. A particular emphasis of this thesis is on phrases that undergo pied-piping, that is, movement of a larger constituent that contains the interrogative element. It is argued that the position of the wh-phrase at the edge is a necessary pre-requisite for pied-piping in Finnish wh-questions and relative clauses. With this respect, Finnish follows the existing cross-linguistic generalizations on pied-piping. Furthermore, the Finnish recursive piedpiping displays properties of successive cyclic movement via edges of pied-piped phrases, resulting to a form of snowball movement. As a result of a detailed investigation on the syntactic constructions, this thesis provides an inventory of pied-piped phrase types in Finnish and a discussion on the different mechanisms for obtaining the edge position among phrases. Among the island phenomena investigated are the adjunct island condition and constraints on subject extraction. It is proposed that Finnish obeys the adjunct island condition and the availability of subject extraction is sensitive to the presence of subject-predicate agreement, displaying a form of anti-agreement effect.
  • Laajasalo, Taina (Helsingin yliopisto, 2007)
    Although the majority of people with mental illness are not violent, scientific studies over the last decades show that certain psychiatric disorders increase the risk of violent behavior, including homicide. This thesis examined crime scene behaviors and offender background characteristics among mentally ill Finnish homicide offenders. Previously, homicide crime scene behaviors have been investigated in relation to offender demographic characteristics, whereas this study compares the behaviors of offenders with various mental illnesses. The study design was a retrospective chart review of the forensic psychiatric statements of Finnish homicide offenders. The work consists of four substudies. The aims of the study were as follows: To describe differences in the childhood and family backgrounds as well as in the adolescent and adult adjustment of Finnish homicide offenders belonging to different diagnostic categories (schizophrenia, personality disorder, alcoholism, drug addiction or no diagnosis). Further, the study examined associations between the crime scene behaviors and mental status of these offenders. Also, the distinguishing characteristics between two groups of offenders with schizophrenia were examined: early starters, who present antisocial behavior before the onset of schizophrenia, and late starters, who first offend after the onset of mental disorder. Finally, it was investigated how the use of excessive violence is associated with clinical and circumstantial variables as well as offender background characteristics among homicide offenders with schizophrenia. The main findings of the study can be summarized as follows. First, offenders with personality disorder or drug addiction had experienced multiple difficulties in their early environments: both family and individual problems were typical. Offenders with schizophrenia were relatively well-adjusted in childhood compared to the other groups. However, in adolescence and adulthood, social isolation, withdrawal and other difficulties attributable to these offenders illness became evident. In several aspects, offenders with alcohol dependency resembled offenders with no diagnosis in that these offenders had less problematic backgrounds compared to other groups. Second, the results showed that crime scene behaviors, victim gender and the victim-offender relationship differ between the groups. In particular, offenders with a diagnosis of schizophrenia or drug addiction have some unique features in their crime scene behaviors and choice of victims. Offenders with schizophrenia were more likely to kill a blood relative, to use a sharp weapon and to injure the victim s face. Drug addiction was associated with stealing from the victim and trying to cover up the body. Third, the results suggest that the offense characteristics of early- and late-start offenders with schizophrenia differ only modestly. However, several significant differences between the groups were found in characteristics of offenders: early starters had experienced a multitude of problems in their childhood surroundings and also later in life. Fourth, violent acts where the offender did not commit the offense alone or had previous homicidal history were predictive of excessive violence among offenders with schizophrenia. Positive psychotic symptoms did not predict the use of excessive violence. Nearly one third of the cases in the sample involved multiple and severe violence, including features such as sadism, mutilation, sexual components or extreme stabbing. In sum, mentally disordered homicide offenders are heterogeneous in their offense characteristics as well as their background characteristics. Empirically based information on how the offender s mental state is associated with specific crime scene behaviors can be utilized within the police force in developing methods of prioritizing suspects in unsolved homicide cases. Also, these results emphasise the importance of early interventions for problem families and children at risk of antisocial behavior. They may also contribute to the development of effective treatment for violent offenders.
  • Vainikainen, Mari-Pauliina (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    During the last decade, Finnish pupils performance in educational assessment studies has steadily declined. At the same time the differences between pupils and in the capital area also the differences between schools have increased, and girls usually outperform boys in most assessed domains. The aim of the present study was to examine how these differences develop during primary education, with a special emphasis on the development of the performance of pupils in need of support for their studies. This was done by following three different samples of primary school pupils in two municipalities: In Helsinki a sample of 608 pupils was followed from the beginning of the first grade to the end of the sixth grade, and in Vantaa two full cohorts (N≈2000 in each) were assessed in the first/third grade and again in the third/sixth grade. In the beginning of the first grade the pupils took a learning preparedness test, and teachers evaluated their initial reading skills. At the turn of the third and fourth grade the pupils completed the Finnish learning to learn scales, which addressed a wide scope of cognitive competences and learning-related attitudes. Learning to learn assessments were repeated at the end of the sixth grade before the transfer to lower secondary education. Additional information was collected about pupils social relationships, task interest and effort as measured by time investment, based on the log files of computer-based assessment. Multiple-group structural equation modelling, repeated measures general linear modelling and variance components modelling were applied in four substudies for testing the hypotheses about the influences of prior cognitive competences, attitudes, interest and effort on performance and about the different trajectories of their development within municipalities, schools, classes and peer groups. The results showed that whereas girls were evaluated by their teachers as being slightly better readers already when they came to school, there was no gender difference in pupils performance in the learning preparedness test. Girls, however, gained slightly more in reading comprehension during the first three years of basic education. Boys in Helsinki outperformed girls in mathematical thinking in the beginning of third grade, but girls closed the gap by the end of the sixth grade. Mothers lower education and pupils support needs were related to lower initial competences, but the differences did not increase during the first three years of basic education. In contrast, in regard to reasoning skills pupils with support needs even closed the gap to some extent. The gap between pupils with support needs and others, however, increased from the beginning of the fourth grade to the end of the sixth grade in both municipalities. Between-school differences slightly increased during the six years of follow-up in Helsinki, but in Vantaa the variation remained between classes in schools. From the end of the third grade to the end of the sixth grade girls improved their performance slightly more than boys in both municipalities. The log data analyses of the computer-based assessment in Vantaa revealed that girls advantage could be completely explained by their more positive attitudes and greater effort as measured by their time investment in the tasks. Reduced time investment and higher levels of detrimental attitudes also provided a partial explanation as to why pupils with identified support needs did not reach their expected level of performance in the sixth grade assessment. As expected, learning-related attitudes declined with age, but this change was unrelated with the changes in performance. Changes in task interest, however, were a meaningful predictor of later performance. Changes in attitudes and interest happened to some extent in classes and peer groups, and boys who were also identified as having support needs more often than girls seemed to be more vulnerable to the influences of their boy classmates both regarding their attitudes and task behaviour in the assessment situation.
  • Rahman, Helinä (Helsingin yliopisto, 2012)
    The aim of this study was to describe, analyse and interpret Finnish pupils communicative language use of English in interviews in basic education grades 1 - 6. The pupils communicative language use of English was studied through the analysis of communication strategies and language functions. This study was a case study which contained ethnographic features. The research questions were the following: 1. What communication strategies do Finnish pupils use to cope with the interviewer's questions in interviews? 2. What language functions do the Finnish pupils use when being interviewed in English? 3. In what ways does an English-language interviewer support the pupils coping with English? The data consisted of pupils in basic education grades 1 - 6 who were in Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) classes and studied partly in English. The pupils (N=7) were interviewed once at the end of each spring term during their first six school years, which provided 42 audio-recorded interviews, each 5 - 15 minutes in length. The data was analysed through qualitative content analysis methods. The main research finding was that the pupils were able to communicate in English by using various communication strategies and language functions from grade 1 onwards. The interviewer's role in helping pupils to cope in interviews was particularly important in grades 1 - 2 when, with the help of the interviewer, the pupils managed to communicate successfully. The older the pupils were, the less help that was needed, and the interviews had more and more conversational features. There were differences in using communication strategies between pupils and grades. Some of the pupils were strongly using achievement strategies and others avoiding. In the early grades, more avoiding was identified, but with the help of the interviewer, the communication was successful. The language functions were usually informative in character, but the older pupils used more argumentative features. Both the communication strategies and language functions used by the pupils were concentrated in a few common categories in grades 4 - 6. The interviewer used many strategies to support the pupils coping in English in the interviews. He was able to change his strategies according to the pupils needs to maximise the pupils communicative language use of English as the interviewer knew the pupils beforehand. --------- The study indicated that oral practice of English over time in small group sessions with a teacher who speaks English as his native language creates a good context in which to practise the communicative language use of English with functional aims. The data also demonstrated that pupils with a multicultural background were good at communicative language use overall and that some of them were able to use several foreign languages. Keywords: communicative language use, communication strategies, language functions, interviewer's strategies, Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL)
  • Nevanen, Saila (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    This research focuses on one arts education project which was carried out in Helsinki in early childhood education centres and schools. This study is an evaluation research which concentrates on art education s connections to learning, wellbeing and communality; it views kindergarten and school as arts learning environments and at arts education as a multiprofessional col-laboration between teachers and artists. The arts education project, which was started in Helsinki in 2000, was offered to children who were under school age (3 6 years old) and at ele-mentary school age (7 9 years old). The data consists of interviews of the teachers, artists and principals of the kindergartens (N=23), the narratives of the closing report (N=9) and the follow-up materials of the project. The method of the research was multidimensional evaluation. The research includes five independent articles and a summary that con-nects the entirety of the research. Each theme is included in one independ-ent article, each of which was published in international peer-reviewed journals. Article I analyses the multiprofessional collaboration between teachers and artists. Article II focuses on the possibilities of arts education in developing learning abilities. Article III explores kindergarten and school as learning environments of arts education. Article IV highlights the evalua-tion of the arts education project through a multidimensional evaluation method. The last article, number V, analyses the long-term impacts of the arts education project in kindergartens and schools. The results show that well-executed, long-lasting arts education projects may support and promote children s wellbeing and their learning abilities. It was easy to motivate and direct the children in activities that connected target-oriented work with natural play. Arts education can also be used to strengthen the unity of the community between early childhood education centres, schools and neighbourhoods. The multiprofessional collaboration between the teachers and artists con-nected their skills and professional abilities, but successful cooperation also required the ability to handle additional interests and tensions. The long-term impact evaluation showed that five out of ten participating kindergartens still continue the developmental work started in the project. The project work was also seen as an excellent way to continue or update training.