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  • Oksanen-Lyytikäinen, Johanna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    The idea of this research was to articulate the meanings of costume and costume design through three contemporary operas Helsinkiin 2005, Le Saxophone 2011 ja Kohtaus kadulla 2013 process descriptions. The aim of this study was to research the meaning of costume and costume design in different opera contexts from the point of view of the costume design-er, but also from the viewpoint of the composer, stage director, performers and the audience. These meanings are considered in the entirety of the above-mentioned operas. Besides will be asked, how do production, performing context and the quality of the collaboration and interaction influence to the artistic pro-cesses from the viewpoint of costume design. As the basis of the multiple case study there was fenomenographic and semi-otic approach to the opera phenomena and producing and interpreting the mean-ings of the costume. The meanings of the costume were to be introduced by adapting methods of craft science, practice-led and artistic research. As main research material was used artists descriptions of their processes, diaries, notes and visual documents like sketches and photographs of the productions. Also material collected by interviewing and inquiry methods was used. As the research result I pronounce the context-based meaning of the costume. The role and meaning of the costume changes according to which phase of the process and from whose viewpoint it is considered. The meaning of the costume is different to different artists or producers and it changes during the processes. To the director costuming can give, besides visual stage picture, tools to create action with, and to the performer it for example will function as a help to create the character and as a protection during performances. To the audience costume tells of the backgrounds or the nature of the characters or something from the stories behind the artwork. When compared, the sketches produced during the artistic processes and the photographs taken from the stages, it was clearly to be seen that the costume sketches had their impact to the stage picture. Through the sketches of the com-poser it was to be noticed that the creative processes in different arts to some extent remind each other. The documentation and analyzing documents of the artistic processes opens up a great chance to create a picture of what happens during art making.
  • Joensuu, Matti (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    Job control has been a key concept in research on the psychosocial work environment and employee health for decades. A general hypothesis is that the more job control employees have, the lower their risk of stress-related diseases. However, the evidence to date has been inconclusive. The two components of job control, skill discretion and decision authority, may be differentially associated with health, which is a possible explanation for previous mixed findings. Therefore, this study examined the longitudinal associations of job control and its components separately, along with mental health and incident cardiovascular disease. The samples used were the Still Working study (N=13 868), the Finnish Public Sector Study (N=60 202) and the Individual-Participant Data Meta-analysis in the Working Populations consortium (N=197 473). Survey responses to job control scales were linked to information on sickness absences and hospitalizations due to psychiatric disorders and hospitalizations and mortality from cardiovascular diseases derived from national registers for initially healthy employees. The follow-up period ranged from one year for sickness absence to 20 years for mortality. The data were analyzed using Cox proportional hazard models, probit regression and random-effects meta-analysis. Employees from hospital wards were linked to information on hospital ward overcrowding in an instrumental variable regression analysis of an external measure for job control. Skill discretion and decision authority showed different, to some extent opposite and subgroup specific associations with mental and cardiovascular health. In several analyses a high decision authority was associated with an increased risk of future mental or cardiovascular ill health. In the Still Working cohort study, the adjusted hazard ratio for cardiovascular mortality was 1.47 (95% confidence interval, CI, 1.12, 1.93) for high decision authority and 1.01 (95% CI 0.76, 1.34) for high skill discretion. Job control as a combined construct was not associated with incident cardiovascular disease in the meta-analysis of prospective studies when adjusted for age, sex and socio-economic status (hazard ratio 0.95, 95% CI 0.75-1.19 for highest quartile vs. lowest quartile). In the instrumental variable regression hospital ward overcrowding did not function as an external indicator for job control. Job control appears to be an equivocal concept in terms of health risk as its components were differently associated with health outcomes. These findings suggest that decision authority and skill discretion need to be separated and different work contexts should be differentiated in studies on job control, mental health and cardiovascular diseases.
  • Virtala, Paula (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    Infants already demonstrate readiness for music processing. Although culture-specific music-processing skills are acquired through exposure to music, even in the absence of formal training, the processing of music sounds is known to be facilitated by music training from early on. Major vs. minor and consonance vs. dissonance categorisations have a central role in Western tonal music and are highly meaningful for Western listeners. However, their neural basis and its development have not been extensively studied. The present thesis examined the preattentive processing of Western music chord categorisations from infancy to adulthood by measuring event-related potentials (ERPs) of the electroencephalogram (EEG), using a mismatch negativity (MMN) paradigm. The effect of music expertise on their processing was studied in school-aged children and adults. In the MMN paradigm, minor chords, inverted major chords, and highly dissonant chords were presented infrequently as deviant sounds in the context of root form major chords. Since all chords were transposed to several frequency levels, the deviant chords introduced no new frequencies to the paradigm, and thus an MMN caused by simple physical deviance was prevented. The results demonstrate the facilitating effects of music expertise on Western music chord discrimination neurally in adults and school-aged children, and behaviourally in adults. Sensitivity to Western music chord categorisations, particularly consonance vs. dissonance, was evident already at birth. While there was no evidence of major vs. minor discrimination as indicated by MMN elicitation in school-aged children without music training, there was tentative evidence of it in newborn infants and non-musician adults. Only musician adults demonstrated sensitivity to root vs. inverted chords, indicating that the facilitating effect of music expertise on the neural processing of the chords grows with age and years of practice. The present thesis suggests that, building on early auditory skills, some implicit knowledge of Western music chord categorisations is acquired via exposure to music during development, without formal training. However, consistent neural representations of complex chord categories may require extensive amounts of formal music training.
  • 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
  • Zilliacus, Harriet (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    Supporting Students Identities and Inclusion in Minority Religious and Secular Ethics Education: A Study on Plurality in the Finnish Comprehensive School The purpose of this doctoral thesis is to explore how education in minority religions and secular ethics supports students identities and inclusion in the Finnish comprehensive school. The focus is on students in grades 1 6 (age 7 13) in the Helsinki metropolitan area. The identities of the students are viewed from a constructivist perspective as their conceptions of themselves in the context of the instruction group and the school. The student s different identities, including his or her religious and non-religious identities, are examined as part of an intercultural educational context. In this context student inclusion is viewed as the student s experiences of him- or herself as equal and integrated. This article-based thesis takes a qualitative approach and is based on four articles, each targeting one sub-question which aims at answering the research problem. Article I focused on how students experience instruction in their own minority religious education or in secular ethics, and how they perceive themselves as part of the overall school culture. This study was based on a participant observation study in 2009 10 undertaken in five different minority religion and secular ethics classes in one comprehensive school. The findings indicated that minority students generally found having their own group to be a positive experience. However, the study also showed that students expressed a negative sense of difference in relation to majority students and that there were several practical concerns in the organization of the classes. The subsequent articles, Articles II IV, were based on interviews with 31 teachers and 3 teacher coordinators in 2011. Article II focused on how minority religion and secular ethics teachers view the task of supporting and including plurality within the classroom. Article III focused on how teachers and teacher coordinators view the inclusion of minority religious education in the school culture. The final article, Article IV, focused on how teachers of minority religions view the significance of education in supporting students identities. The findings within these articles illuminated how students identities were embedded in the educational context, which included both supportive and challenging aspects. The supportive aspects that the teachers and teacher coordinators emphasized included a sense of belonging and community in the group, the inclusion of students with immigrant backgrounds, as well as the support given to students diverse cultural and religious backgrounds. The support given to students backgrounds was strongly dependent on the size and structure of the mixed age class and the teachers capacities to take all students into account. A central challenging aspect included structural discrimination in the education. In teachers views, some minority students also felt separated and isolated in relation to majority students and were subject to instances of discrimination. Furthermore, the overall lack of dialogue within the schools and between the classes emerged as a challenge for including the minority students in the school cultures. The findings moreover indicated that the way minority religious education supports students identities includes challenges. The current system of education appears strong with regard to supporting students identities within a given tradition. However, it does not always take into account modern plurality and the individual identities of students. In teachers views students identities were frequently seen as bound to a particular tradition, and socialization into the religious tradition was clearly present. This puts into question the adequacy of the current model and educational practice. For the future development of religious education it is vital that the challenges in the educational context are met and that students identities are viewed as open to change and individual development.
  • Sakurai, Yusuke (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    This doctoral thesis explored international university students academic engagement and factors contributing to its enhancement and impediment. It revealed characteristics of international students academic engagement by demonstrating similarities to and differences among various groups of students, including between international student sub-groups and between domestic and international students. The four studies that make up this thesis incorporated two survey datasets on students learning experiences at the University of Helsinki one set for international students at the Bachelor s and Master s level, and the other set for international and domestic doctoral students. Studies I and II focused on different subgroups of international Bachelor s and Master s level students. Study I especially explored the associations of different dimensions of students teaching-learning environment and academic engagement. The purposefulness of the course assignments and the relevance of learning contents were associated with adopting a deep approach to learning and being organised in their studies. Furthermore, the better the students perception was of how well their courses were organised and learning contents were aligned with each other, the lower was their stress level. The research further attempted to show whether the association model differed between two major international student cohorts in the same educational context: European and Asian international students. Study I concluded that the impacts of dimensions of the teaching-learning environment on students academic engagement did not differ between the student groups. However, the scores indicating students cognitive engagement, including the surface approach to learning and organised studying for the Asian students, were statistically significantly higher than those of the European students, but the sizes of the differences were considered to be very small. Study II further narrowed the scope by analysing Chinese students cognitive engagement vis-à-vis the other international students, with attention given to the students survey extreme response styles. The results suggested that the Chinese students used the surface approach more than the other students with a small amount of difference, but these results warrant additional attention when the students extreme response styles are taken into account. Furthermore, the study showed that the Chinese students applied the deep approach and organised study as much as the other students. The Chinese students might take a deep approach and organise their studies even more if the levels of their extreme response styles were equivalent to that of the other students. Studies III and IV shed light on factors associated with international doctoral students academic engagement in their studies. Study III used both quantitative measures and students open-ended answers about their academic experiences. It addressed influential factors in their experiences of satisfaction with their studies and thoughts about abandoning their programmes. Both positive and negative factors in research supervision and positive factors in the personal domain were significantly associated with student satisfaction. The doctoral students levels of academic satisfaction were lower in the Faculty of Arts, and higher among those who had not yet decided on the format of their doctoral thesis: monograph or article-based thesis. In addition, the results suggested that students who had problems in supervision and department-related matters, including financing, research facilities and administrative responsibilities, were more prone to have considered dropping out of their studies. Study IV examined the association of doctoral students motivation to undertake doctoral studies and the levels of their emotional engagement. It demonstrated the differences and similarities of the association between international and domestic doctoral students by integrating a data-driven statistical approach. The results suggested that students who started their doctoral studies with low motivation to extend their career prospects were significantly less satisfied. More international students than domestic students were classified in the cluster of students who began their studies hoping to develop their career prospects with moderate levels of research interest. This thesis contributes to our knowledge of the characteristics of international students academic engagement by demonstrating that students studying in the same educational context appeared to engage in their studies in a fairly comparable way. The thesis stresses the importance for university teachers to be sensitive about their own understanding of particular groups of students in the current, highly diversifying atmosphere of tertiary education. The comparison of different groups with the use of effect sizes consistently showed only very small or even negligible differences. Therefore, this thesis calls more attention to the practical size of differences between different cohorts, which have often been reported in previous comparative studies, but without a great deal of interpretation. Finally, the four studies could not demonstrate links between the students positive engagement in their studies and their academic peers. Hence, this thesis argues that international students may not take sufficient advantage of peer support and collaborative synergy during their university studies.
  • Martikainen, Silja (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    Adequate rest and periods of activity are important for maintaining physiological homeostasis, for the adaptive functioning of the stress-response systems, and they promote psychological well-being. However, knowledge on the associations of sleep and physical activity with stress system functioning, and of physical activity with psychiatric problems is limited especially in children and youth. This study was designed to address three research questions, (1) whether sleep is associated with cardiovascular function in 8-year-old children, (2) whether physical activity is associated with psychiatric problems in 8-year-old children, and (3) whether physical activity is associated with hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis (HPAA) function in 8- and 12-year-old children. The participants came from an urban community-based cohort originally comprising 1049 infants born in 1998 in Helsinki, Finland. Sleep and physical activity were objectively measured using accelerometers. Sleep was also assessed using parent-reported questionnaire-based data. Of the 413 children invited to a follow-up, 321 participated at a mean age of 8.1 years. Of these, 231 to 274 were included in the analyses of sleep and ambulatory blood pressure, or cardiovascular reactivity to the Trier Social Stress Test for Children (TSST-C). The children s mothers and teachers filled in a questionnaire reporting common childhood psychiatric problems, and 199 children had valid data on physical activity and psychiatric problems from both observers. HPAA activity was measured via salivary cortisol concentrations, 252 of the children with valid data on physical activity had data on diurnal salivary cortisol, and 248 had data on salivary cortisol responses to the TSST-C. Later, of the 920 adolescents invited to a further follow-up, 451 participated at a mean age of 12.3 years. Of these, 283 adolescents with valid physical activity data provided data on diurnal salivary cortisol, and 272 adolescents provided data on salivary cortisol responses to a low-dose overnight dexamethasone suppression test (DST), a method used to study the individual physiological variation in HPAA feedback inhibition. In contrast with a wealth of evidence especially from adults, the results showed that sleep in healthy children was not associated with an unhealthy cardiovascular phenotype. Higher physical activity levels were associated with a lower probability for psychiatric problems in children as well as lower HPAA reactivity to psychosocial stress at 8 years of age. In addition, in early adolescence (12 years of age) physical activity was associated with lower morning cortisol levels in girls and higher HPAA suppression in response to the DST in boys. These results provide evidence on the health-related associations of sleep and physical activity in a community-based cohort of children. These findings offer insight into the influence of physical activity on physical and mental well-being, by suggesting that physical activity could promote health by moderating HPAA function. As the results are correlational in nature, further research using a prospective controlled methodology is called for. This study emphasizes the importance of sustaining and supporting high physical activity levels throughout childhood and adolescence.
  • Kangas, Kaiju (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    Designing, from its very premise, aims to create something new. Therefore, it can be seen as a form of object-oriented process of knowledge-creation, which, in turn, is considered a fundamental future competence. In order to productively participate in the future society, students need experience of creative knowledge work practices from an early stage of their education. Since the objects and effects of design are daily apparent all around us, engaging in and comprehending design processes provides a means of developing a deep understanding of the less tangible issues affecting us humans and the world we inhabit. However, design learning and knowledge-creation have not, especially at lower levels of education, attracted much research interest. The general aim of the present study is to examine how knowledge-creation exemplified by collaborative designing could be promoted at the elementary level of education. This objective is two-fold; on one hand, the present study investigates the nature of students' collaborative design learning processes and, on the other hand, the facilitation of these processes. Further, the study explores the role of social, material, and embodied dimensions of designing in the learning processes as well as in their facilitation. The study represents design-based research, where the pedagogical approach Learning by Collaborative Design (LCD) was, for the first time, applied at the elementary level of education. In order to examine and further advance the approach, a longitudinal project, the Artifact Project, was organized in an elementary school in Helsinki, Finland. Video data (approximately 16 h) from the project's lamp designing phase constitute the main data source of the present study. The leadership of this phase was provided by a professional designer, and the data consists of interaction between him and the students, as well as of the student teams' peer collaboration. In addition, selected views from the Artifact Project's Knowledge Forum database were analyzed. The data was approached through iterative cycles of qualitative content analyses. The findings indicate that elementary students are able to engage in and learn creative knowledge-creation and design processes, and that these processes can be structured and promoted using the pedagogical LCD approach. Three foci of participants' activity were identified in the study, indicating that in order to engage in genuine design inquiry, students need support in understanding the rationale directing the design practice, in actually engaging in these practices, and in the reflection and sharing of their emerging design knowledge. From the findings, four pedagogical implications were drawn. First, creative knowledge-creation and design processes evolve within long, preferably undefined periods of time. Second, design is inherently interdisciplinary, and students' emerging design knowledge also calls for knowledge of science and the humanities. Third, design competence develops through several connected levels social, material, and embodied of thinking, interacting, and meaning making. Fourth, collective and participatory learning facilitates creative designing and knowledge-creation. The implications drawn are linked with the emerging maker culture, which may provide new prospects for implementing design learning as well as underlining its significance in general education.
  • Koli, Annarita (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    This dissertation concerns work-related well-being of vocational teachers and the possibilities for well-being promotion in changing work activity. Previous studies concerning teachers’ occupational well-being and change have focused either on individual teachers as recipients of change, or on the characteristics and reforms of teaching work on a general level. Only rarely has work-related well-being of teachers been studied from the viewpoint of work community and changing work activity. In my thesis, I study teachers’ work-related well-being as a phenomenon emerging in collective and changing work activity. I develop a method for promoting work-related well-being in the joint development of work activity. In this method, the work community is considered as an active agent in developing their work and promoting their well-being. I employ cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT), the methodology of developmental work research (DWR) and theoretical concepts that have been developed within them for studying work-related well-being. The activity-theoretical concept of object-dependent well-being emphasizes the personal sense of work and the employee’s successful work in experiencing work-related well-being. However, it is still unclear how an individual may find a new personal sense in his or her work in significant workplace transformations. My research task is: how is it possible for the teacher community to develop and reshape their work activity in order to promote their work-related well-being at the same time? My empirical research site is a work community of beautician teachers in a vocational school. I studied their work using ethnographic research methods 2002-2004, as part of a research and development project called “On the threshold of new expertise – personnel as the workplace change agent.” My dissertation consists of a theoretical part and four empirical articles. In the articles I analyze teachers’ changing work activity and their work-related well-being from different viewpoints. In the summary part of the thesis I develop a theory for studying and promoting work-related well-being that is based on both empirical articles’ findings and theoretical concepts of activity theory. In my dissertation, I study teachers’ work-related well-being as a developing relationship between the personal sense of work and collective object of teaching. The fragmental development of teaching appeared in the everyday work of teachers as disturbances, contradictory demands, and problems in their personal sense of work. In significant workplace transformations the relationship of the individual to his or her work may culminate in the experience of a personal double-bind and contradictory motives that threaten work-related well-being. My study shows that the teacher community did not have sufficient opportunities for working out a shared conception of the changed object of their work. Hence, also the development of new work practices and new sources of personal sense were not consolidated. My study also shows, however, that with the help of appropriate developmental tools, teachers may construct a shared understanding of the developmental needs of work activity and so promote their work-related well-being by jointly generating the future of their work activity. In significant workplace transformations, employee well-being can be promoted by supporting work communities in constructing a shared conception of the object of joint activity. This conception creates the ground for reshaping organizational practices, but it also offers an opportunity for individuals to construct a new relationship to their work and for finding new sources of work-related well-being in the changed work activity. During change even strong individual experiences of contradictory motives are not a negative phenomenon, but an important prerequisite for both individual and collective development. My study helps to understand individuals’ well-being experiences in changing work activity and shows the meaning of collective development in the promotion of work-related well-being.
  • Tuovinen, Soile (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    Hypertensive pregnancy disorders complicate approximately 10% of all pregnancies. They may compromise placental functioning and, thus, affect the fetal developmental milieu. It is therefore highly plausible that they have consequences for the developmental outcomes of the offspring. However, their role in the developmental plasticity phenomenon dubbed programming remains relatively unexplored. This thesis examines whether adult offspring born to mothers with hypertensive pregnancy disorders differ from their counterparts born to normotensive mothers in mental health and cognitive functioning, and whether the potential group differences vary according to sex, length of gestation, parity, and childhood socio-economic status. This thesis capitalizes on the Helsinki Birth Cohort Study. The study cohort comprises 13 345 individuals born in Helsinki between 1934 and 1944. Maternal hypertension status was defined based upon blood pressure and urinary protein measurements during pregnancy and was available for 6410 individuals. Data on mental disorders come from validated national registers extending over four decades (n = 5970 eligible for this study; Study II). Depressive symptoms were measured with a standardized questionnaire (BDI) in conjunction with a clinical follow-up study at a mean age of 62 years (n = 788; Study I) and in conjunction with a further follow-up including a more detailed psychological survey at a mean age of 64 years (n = 661; Study I). Cognitive test scores were obtained from the Finnish defence forces basic ability test taken during military service at a mean age of 20 years (n = 1196; Study III) and in a re-test at a mean age of 69 years (n = 398; Study IV). Cognitive impairment was measured with psychological questionnaires (DFQ and DEX) in conjunction with a further follow-up at a mean age of 69 years (n = 876; Study V). In comparison to the offspring born to normotensive mothers, offspring born to pre-eclamptic mothers showed higher self-reported cognitive impairment (Study V). Offspring born to mothers with hypertension without proteinuria showed a higher risk of mental disorders (Study II), although they did not differ in the severity of selfreported depressive symptoms. Maternal hypertensive pregnancy disorders as a diagnostic entity were associated with lower cognitive functioning (Sudy III and IV) and higher cognitive decline (Study IV). Sex, parity and childhood socio-economic status modified some of associations. Maternal pre-eclampsia was associated with higher self-reported depressive symptom scores in primiparous, but not in multiparous, offspring (Study I), and with a lower risk of mental disorders in male, but not female, offspring (Study II). Maternal hypertension without proteinuria was associated with self-reported cognitive impairment in female, but not male, offspring (Study V). Finally, the associations between maternal hypertensive pregnancy disorders as a diagnostic entity and lower cognitive functioning (verbal reasoning) in young adulthood were most evident in primiparous offspring and in offspring with a high childhood socio-economic status (Study III). These study findings showed that maternal hypertensive pregnancy disorders were associated with all studied mental health and cognitive functioning outcomes. Overall, maternal hypertensive disorders during pregnancy carried an increased risk of a wide spectrum of problems in mental well-being and cognitive functioning among the offspring several decades later. However, protective effects were also observed, and, in future studies, it will be important to unravel the developmental pathways and underlying biological mechanisms. Being the longest follow-up on the transgenerational consequences of maternal hypertensive disorders reported thus far, the findings highlight the role of the prenatal environment in developmental programming.
  • Talvio, Markus (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    By using their social interaction skills, teachers create an autonomous and supportive climate in the classroom. Research, however, is scarce on how teachers can develop these skills despite being emphasised as key tools in modern learning psychology. This intervention study explored the development of teachers social and emotional learning (SEL) skills during Gordon s Teacher Effectiveness Training (TET) (2003). The effects of the TET were examined at various levels of Kirkpatrick and Kirkpatrick (2006), including the effects on participants reactions, knowledge, the application of knowledge and overall well-being. In addition, a new case-based measurement instrument, the dealing with challenging interactions (DCI), was developed. Finally, the sustainability of the studied skills was examined nine months after completing TET. The intervention group consisted of 20 primary school classroom teachers and 23 secondary school subject-matter teachers in Finland. The comparison group comprised 26 subject-matter teachers who did not participate in TET. The data were collected before and after the four-day TET. In addition, data regarding the sustainability of the studied skills were collected and analysed nine months after completing the TET. In Study I, the DCI method was developed to measure the social interaction skills of teachers. The participants are presented with seven scenarios, after which they are asked what they would say or do in that situation. The answers are content analysed. DCI appeared to be a reliable and valid tool. The multi-phase quantitative analyses in Study II showed that teachers benefitted from TET. Among those who participated in TET, both knowledge and the application of knowledge improved significantly. In the comparison group, no differences between the pre- and post-test measurements were found. Study III showed that a qualitative change took place among those teachers participating in TET. Teachers learned to apply the TET skills in their responses to situations. By giving room to pupils, teachers were also more likely to support pupils autonomy and agency. In Study IV, it was found that the participants still remembered the central skills studied during TET and were able to reflect that knowledge in their own behaviour from the perspective of the TET skills. Almost all of the participants said that they would recommend TET to their colleagues. TET intervention appeared to achieve its goals since both classroom and subject-matter teachers seemed to benefit from the training on social interaction skills. While training on teachers social interaction skills is often recommended, little evidence regarding its effectiveness exists. This study adds to both the theoretical and practical development of continuing teacher education.
  • Lehtonen, Esko (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    In the visual control of locomotion, gaze is used to sample information in an anticipatory manner. In car driving, this anticipation functions at both a short and long time distance. At the short time distance, gaze leads the locomotion with a small (1‒3 s) time headway. Many steering models have explained this behavior by interpreting that drivers track a steering point on the road to obtain visual information which is directly translated to steering actions. This gaze behaviour can be called guiding fixations, because the gaze is providing information for the online control of the steering. At the long time distance, gaze serves trajectory planning by picking up information from the road further ahead. In curves, a part of the road can be visible in highly eccentric positions relative to the typical guiding fixations direction. In these situations, the information needs of the trajectory planning can result in eccentric look-ahead fixations toward the curve. The role of these fixations in the visual control of locomotion is not well understood. In this thesis, I have developed algorithmical methods for the identification of look-ahead fixations from eye movement data collected with an instrumented vehicle on real roads. In a series of three experiments, gaze behavior in curves was studied. The effects of driving experience and cognitive load were also investigated. In general, fixation distributions do not suggest a clear division between guiding and look-ahead fixations. However, a clear tail of eccentric fixations is present in the distributions, which can be operationally defined as look-ahead fixations in curves. Look-ahead fixations target the whole visible road, but locations with a smaller eccentricity relative to the guiding fixations were more commonly fixated than those with a high eccentricity. Experienced drivers allocated more time to look-ahead fixations compared to novices. Cognitive load may negatively affect trajectory planning by interfering with look-ahead fixations. Based on the results, the role of trajectory planning in the control of steering is discussed. The results are consistent with a hierarchical model of driving behaviour, where trajectory planning supplies the intended path for the level of the online control of steering.
  • Therman, Sebastian (National Institute for Health and Welfare, 2014)
    Psychotic diseases are a great burden to both the affected individuals and society at large. Though psychoses are severe mental disorders, similar phenomena appear outside of the diagnosable disorders as psychotic or psychotic-like experiences (PLEs). The PLEs are on a continuum of liability and symptom expression in the population, from the healthy to the pathological, and the diagnosed disorders constitute the extreme of the distribution, rather than a clearly delineated class. Studying the psychosis continuum offers a way of understanding the underlying causes shared across the entire range. The frequent presence of PLEs before the first psychotic episode also helps in identifying a trajectory towards disease. However, the specific PLEs associated with increased psychosis risk or incipient disease require further elucidation. Though experiences similar to the positive symptoms of psychosis primarily hallucinations and delusions have been nominated as the most predictive of psychosis, these are broad categories that may contain subdivisions of varying levels of shared aetiology with psychotic disease, and varying predictive value. In this thesis, the latent dimensions of self-reported PLEs were explored in one sample of 6,611 adolescents and one sample of 31,822 adults from the general population (Studies I and II), as well as in one sample of 71 and one sample of 731 adolescents in psychiatric care (Studies III and IV). Three different PLE questionnaires were employed in the separate studies: the PROD-screen, the 92-item version of the Prodromal Questionnaire, and the positive items of the Community Assessment of Psychic Experiences. The clinical significance of the identified dimensions was studied via their associations with general mental health, cognitive performance, and their predictive value with respect to psychiatric hospitalization in general or for psychosis specifically. Overall, the results showed a general PLE structure of positive, negative, and disorganized dimensions similar to that of symptoms in non-affective psychotic disorders. The positive dimension further subdivided into dimensions of persecutory ideation, other delusions, and hallucinations and, in one study, depersonalization experiences. These dimensions were correlated with general psychiatric health, as assessed by lifetime depression and anxiety. In contrast, questionnaire items intended to address hypomanic, grandiose, or magical thinking appeared unrelated to psychiatric health. In a smaller sample of adolescents in psychiatric care, the positive, disorganized, and negative dimensions were not associated with cognitive performance, contrary to expectation. However, in a larger sample, especially functional disorganization, that is, impaired role functioning, was associated with later psychiatric hospitalization in general, while the depersonalization experiences dimension was the best predictor of hospitalization with a diagnosis of psychosis. The identified latent dimensions of psychotic-like experiences demonstrate the structural validity of the PLE questionnaires, while the concurrent clinical correlates and predictive value establish criterion validity. In particular, the finding of the empirically derived depersonalization dimension being specifically predictive of psychosis merits attempts at replication. Modern psychometric methods used in the present thesis improve the utility of PLE related rating scales. In future studies a more fine-grained approach to assessing PLEs is recommended, in order to improve the accuracy of psychosis prediction and our understanding of the psychosis continuum.
  • 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.
  • Lonka, Eila (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    ABSTRACT Individuals with profound deafness have damages in the inner and outer hair cells in the cochlea. For this reason they make only little use of frequency information and thus have minimal capacities to perceive speech sound cues. Accordingly, speech perception without augmentative means is impossible for them. Profoundly deaf children have been deprived of sound from very early stages of their lives, which inevitably has an effect on linguistic development. Cochlear implants (CIs) have proved their advantage in compensating auditory deficiency both in adults and children with profound hearing loss. In Helsinki University Hospital cochlear implantations started in the early 1980s for 10 Finnish adults with profound deafness. Since that time, due to the fast development of speech processing strategies introduced to CIs, high frequencies and temporal features important to the discrimination of consonantal cues and understanding continuous speech are now often available. The up-to-date worldwide estimation of adults using CIs is 200 000, and the respective number of children is 80 000. In Finland the estimated number of children with CIs is approximately 300, and 500 adults, respectively. In Studies I and II we followed the development of MMN responses to vowel and frequency stimuli in postlingually deafened adults. Plasticity of auditory pitch discrimination driven by cochlear implant (CI) use during a 2.5-year follow-up was indicated both by an enhancement of the amplitude of mismatch negativity (MMN) event-related brain potential (ERP) to vowel contrasts as well as to pure tone frequency changes. The MMN was observed in all patients after 2.5 years of CI use. It was first seen for the larger vowel difference /e/-/o/ and later for the smaller one /e/-/ø/. A significant enhancement was observed for the MMN elicited by 3200 Hz deviant tones among 4000 Hz standards. Instead, no observable mean amplitude MMNs were seen in duration stimuli. The MMN results were compared to audiometric speech recognition scores (SRSs) which improved over time. Participants with the highest SRSs had the highest MMN amplitudes. Studies III (n = 92) and IV (n = 164) report auditory and spoken language development as well as educational settings for Finnish children with cochlear implants. The results of the 92 children show that after approximately three years of hearing experience (hearing age = HA) at the mean chronological age of seven years, children are achieving developed forms of spoken language. The favourable age of two to three for early cochlear implantation in respect to good spoken language skills development was observed in 55 children. For Study IV, two questionnaires were employed; the first, concerning day care and educational placement, was filled in by professionals for rehabilitation guidance, and the second, evaluating language development (categories of auditory performance, spoken language skills, and main modes of communication), by speech and language therapists in audiology departments. Categories of auditory performance and spoken language levels were observed to grow in relation to age at cochlear implantation (p less than 0.001) as well as in relation to proportional hearing age (p less than 0.001). The composite scores for language development moved to more diversified ones in relation to increasing age at cochlear implantation and proportional hearing age (p less than 0.001). Furthermore, the results also indicated that nearly half of the children were enrolled in normal kindergartens and 43% of school-aged children in mainstream schools. Children without additional disorders outperformed those with additional disorders. The results of Study IV indicate that the most favourable age for cochlear implantation could be about the age of two. Compared to other children, spoken language evaluation scores of those with additional disabilities were significantly lower; however, these children showed gradual improvements in their auditory perception and language scores. Taken together, the positive effects of cochlear implantation were observed in MMN responses in adults and in behavioral results for children with CIs.
  • Koski, Katja (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    Staff members' communication strategies determine how individuals with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD) can more fully participate in their community. Such individuals often possess limited interaction skills and may never be able to use symbolic communication strategies. Since staff members are often the main communication partners for individuals with PMLD, achieving successful interaction situations requires that the staff members modify their interaction strategies to meet the different needs of the individuals. However, staff members often fail to do so. Thus, both observational studies and staff members themselves have concluded that communication skills are a professional competence requiring special training. Speech and language therapists (SLTs) working with individuals who have PMLD often provide their service via indirect therapy, which includes giving advice to staff members on how to improve the communication between them and their clients with PMLD. Yet despite such efforts, the staff members seldom change their communication habits. Thus, the aim of this thesis is to understand the process of indirect speech therapy. Specifically, which issues are important for staff members to learn during indirect therapy and which factors support staff members in maintaining the targeted skills. The theoretical background of this study is based on Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Systems Theory. This theory states that the entire surrounding ecological system affects human development. The interaction between staff members and individuals with PMLD is therefore defined at the level of different sub-systems of Bronfenbrenner's theory. In the microsystem, the communicative abilities of staff members and individuals with PMLD affects how the interaction succeeds. In the exosystem, the interaction is regarded at the organisational level; the values and practices of the organisations have an effect on the interactions between the individuals and staff members. Finally, in the macrosystem, the social values and practices surrounding organisations (eg. laws, structures, philosophy) influence how the organisations provide care to their clients with PMLD and thus shape the interaction between the staff members and their clients. This study tries to target both the microsystem and the exosystem. Therefore, the research interests are in the interactions between staff members and clients with PMLD and in the organisation which provides the framework of these interactions. The materials of this thesis were collected from a communication partner training programme OIVA, developed by the Communication and Technology Centre of the Finnish Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. OIVA training was aimed at staff members working with individuals who have PMLD. The data were drawn from a group situation where SLTs analysed the participating staff members' interaction skills and from semi-structured interviews directed at the participating staff members. The SLTs' analyses of the staff members interaction patterns were analysed both quantitatively and qualitatively. The staff members' interviews were analysed using qualitative methods. This study discovered that SLTs have contrasting views about which strategies staff members should use to achieve successful interactions with their clients. Even though there might not be one single way of being a successful interaction partner, this variable can be confusing to staff members if they work with several SLTs who offer different professional advice. The participating staff members stated that they had pondered several ethical questions relating to the individuals' sense of belonging in the community and concerning their right to be understood and to understand the communications presented to them. This resulted in staff members starting to ask individuals with PMLD for their opinions about daily life and to act according to the individuals wishes. Furthermore, the staff members in this study reported a need for more supervisory support to maintain the results of the training and to disseminate the new practices to non-trained staff. It seems that permanent change in staff members' behaviours comes depends on whether the organisation is willing to focus on the selected issues over a long period of time, perhaps for years, and whether the organisation has developed support systems to maintain the benefits of the training. This study emphasises that indirect speech and language therapy is a complex professional task. The SLTs providing this therapy need more knowledge about the interaction strategies and the thinking habits affecting the interaction between staff members and individuals with PMLD. They also require understanding of the organisational factors which promote the staff members opportunities to participate in indirect therapy and to use and maintain the newly learnt communication skills.
  • Sepp, Anu (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    This study represents comparative educational research focusing on music syllabi in the National Curricula for basic schools and the pedagogical thinking of music teachers in those schools in Estonia and Finland. The thesis consists of six articles and a summary explaining the background of the research, the research methods, as well as the conclusions and further discussions about the results. The aim of the research was to study and compare the music syllabi and their influence on general music education and actual music practices in the two countries. The study also aimed at specification and comparison of pedagogical thinking of teachers teaching music in basic schools as well as tried to identify what objectives, content, practices and methods they used. The data came from three different sources: the current music syllabi in the National Core curricula in both countries, answers to a web-based questionnaire (N = 157) and semi-structured interviews (N = 10) for teachers teaching music in basic schools. The data were analysed using a mixed method, which became intertwined: the aim was to compare and obtain an overall idea about the role and meaning of the music syllabi on the music practices and to find out about the pedagogical thinking of the teachers music teaching. In the first stage, the music syllabi of both countries were compared using content analysis by themes and categories; next, the answers to the closed questions of the questionnaire were quantitatively analysed and the answers to the open questions were studied and qualitatively compared using content analysis. In the third stage, the data from the interviews were qualitatively analysed using directed content analysis. Finally, the entire data set was reviewed to obtain a more reliable overall picture, and the results of the analyses allowed to draw some conclusions. The results of the neighbouring countries of Estonia and Finland revealed several similarities as well as differences in their music syllabi and in the music teachers pedagogical thinking. The major differences were related to the level of prescription of the music syllabi, the optional status of the subject and the number of lessons. The music syllabus in the National Curriculum in Estonia provides more detailed explanations, and music is a compulsory subject throughout basic schooling. The music syllabus in Finland is more like a framework according to which teachers are expected to design the local curricula, and the subject is optional from grade 8 onwards. The number of music lessons per week also differs. The main objectives of the music syllabi in both countries confirm the idea of musicing: engaging pupils in the real world of music by singing, playing instruments, listening to various styles and genres of music, and expressing their own ideas through improvisation, composition and movement. The pedagogical thinking and use of music practices in the two countries also revealed similar tendencies. Thus, the use of Riho Päts approach to music teaching is naturally more widespread in Estonia, but as several Estonian music teachers also work in Finland, this approach has also become more popular here.
  • Latva-Karjanmaa, Raija (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    The focus of the study is to identify how mediation supports a web-based course on self-regulation. In the context of education, mediation can be defined as a supporter or promoter of learning. Mediation selects, interprets, and amplifies objects for human learners. The study creates an integrated view of mediators as learning promoters based on Vygotsky s (1978) and Feuerstein s theories (1990, 1991) for studying mediators in web-based learning. This study presents an integrated definition of mediators which focuses on the task, quality and types of mediators and suggests the following: (1) mediators are learning promoters who trigger, support, and amplify learning; (2) learning requires high-quality mediators, and the quality of mediation is ensured by mediated learning experiences; and (3) mediators can be social/human mediators or tool/symbolic mediators. This integrated view is then evaluated based on the empirical research results. The study analyzes an asynchronous web-based learning environment (IQ Form) from the perspective of mediation; this learning environment was designed for the Finnish Virtual University (FVU). The research setting involves students from the Karelia University of Applied Sciences. The IQ Form environment aims to help students take charge of their own learning process, i.e., develop their self-regulative strategies and skills. The IQ Learn section of IQ Form includes tests, a tutorial with assignments, and a diary to develop students learning skills and strategies. The research focuses on mediators that support learning self-regulation by analyzing students' experiences of learning support on a web-based course for learning self-regulation. The methodological approach used, on a philosophical level, qualitatively relies on phenomenology, while at the methodological level, the approach relies on the qualitative research tradition. The study includes two pre-studies and one actual research phase. The main source of data was 14 interviews of first-year students in a Business Information Technology degree program. In addition, 12 students were included in the two pre-studies. The interview data were also supported by the students 56 diary texts, which were comprised of written assignments sent to their online teacher and background information collected from the students. The data analysis developed into a triangulation between qualitative clustering, a structured empirical phenomenological analysis, and a narrative analysis. The phenomenological analysis was decisive for finding the mediators. The research results suggest five kinds of mediators in this web-based self-regulation setting. The phenomenological analysis made it possible to discover the mediators supporting or triggering students learning processes. The mediators found were the following: own pace, own space, own face, human and tool. The mediators own pace, space and face were born situationally due to the special circumstances of web-based learning; they were not pre-designed or arranged as were the human and tool mediators. As a mediator, own pace promoted experiences of being able to study when the time and the mood of the student were right for studying and made it possible to pause and let the student s thoughts to mature. Own space promoted concentration and informal studying experiences. It provided the students with the experience of having their own place in which to think deeper without disturbances from the classroom or peer students. Own face triggered experiences of daring to having private, personal thoughts among the students about their learning. The human and tool mediators are the traditional mediators connected to the learning context and pedagogical idea of the course. They are, to an extent, uncontrollable by the student. The human mediator (online teacher) triggered the experience of trust, guidance, and monitoring. In terms of the tool mediator (tests, tutorial, and diary), the tests promoted students understanding of themselves as learners, the tutorial helped students to analyze themselves as learners via the assignments, and the diary made students to elaborate and produce thoughts about themselves as learner, which many students experienced as very demanding. The mediators found in the study increased the students sense of being in charge of their studies and learning. This study proposes that attention should be given to mediating tools and their particular features in web-based learning. Mediators should be offered that encourage learners to take charge, make their own space in learning and carry their personal thoughts without fear of being criticized. The role of the human mediator in web-based learning of self-regulation should also be further developed. The future research tasks need to focus on learners experiences of mediation in order to identify the mediators in various settings. Research is needed on which mediators are functional in technology enhanced instruction, it s individual and social learning spaces. Studies are also needed about how technology based mediators can be adapted to the needs of various groups of learners.
  • Lakka, Jari (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    Abstract 1st and 2nd grade students thinking strategies in addition and subtraction tasks are researched in this multiple case study. The base for building counting strategies is the development of number concept. Counting strategies are studied from the point of being inadequate and undeveloped until the task becomes automatized. At the same time mental strategies are touched. The topic has been extensively researched worldwide, but relatively little in Finland. A Southern Finnish suburb school class which consisted of 6 first grade students and 11 second grade students (age 7-8) was the subject of the study. Students were interviewed in September, in January and in May through school year 2003-2004. They were asked to explain, what they were thinking when they were solving usual addition and subtraction tasks, such as 7+7, 12-5, 15+15, 20-19 and so on. Students numerical skills were also tested. In mathematics lessons we emphasized the use of manipulatives in teaching counting strategies. The research problem was to see which kind of counting strategies primary students have and how these strategies develop through the year. Learning paths of the class were also studied. The method was phenomenographic and, accordingly, there should be only a few counting strategy categories which contain all the strategies used in the tests. The outcome space of counting strategies consists of four main categories. The first one I named Undeveloped strategies . The student s one-to-one correspondence between number words and physical objects can be incorrect and so called double counting missing. The second category I named Counting with number words . In this category a task is counted by counting with number words in one s mind or for example tracking number words with fingers. The third category I named Own strategies . They often differ from those taught in mathematics lessons or in text books. The fourth category is named Strategies based on real partitioning . In this category strategies are based on derived known facts, and numbers are understandable for children and they are easily divided into chunks. The finding of this study is that counting develops from counting with number words towards a real understanding of numbers. At the same time, the ten-based value system becomes clear to the student and the automation of tasks increases. Based on Vygotsky s (1978) theory of a ZPD (Zone of Proximal Development) Murata and Fuson (2006) formed Model of Mathematical Proficiency. They also conceptualized a Class Learning Path that includes a small number of different learning paths followed by students. Indeed in our class there were found a few different learning paths. Students followed these paths when moving towards more effective strategies based on partitioning. To develop students counting strategies is also to develop their understanding. It is based on external instructional models and representations, which students can connect with their internal networks of knowledge. Ten-based physical materials and models ought to be placed in classrooms. Teaching should take place from concrete models and concrete strategies linked to them towards mental strategies and furthermore towards abstract thinking. Keywords: Counting strategies, Learning Path, concrete materials, ZPD
  • Mietola, Reetta (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    The study focuses on the formation of the conceptions of special in the everyday life of school, especially in the practices of special education and student welfare services. It analyses definitions of special and normal/ordinary in the discursive practices of everyday life. The relationship between normal and deviant is approached as a formation constantly re-built, re-defined and re-conceptualized in the everyday practices of the school. The study is positioned in the fields of sociology of education, cultural studies, gender studies, youth studies and disability studies. Theoretically it draws from feminist poststructuralist theories. Key analytical concepts of the study are subject position, subjectivity and subjectification. Methodologically the study is ethnographic. A year-long fieldwork took place in one lower secondary school, following the everyday schooling of 9th graders in special education. Data consists mainly of field notes and interviews. The report is divided into four thematically separate analytical chapters. These focus on (1) school space and spatial practices, (2) definitions of ordinary and special made in the discussions of members of the multidisciplinary student welfare team, (3) discursive practices of the special education teachers and in special education classes, and (4) hierarchies constructed in the student culture, and how students positioned as special negotiate their position and meaning in relation to these hierarchies. Main results of the study are drawn from these four themes, and how these different dimensions intertwine in the process of defining what and who is special in the school. Special and ordinary were found as very clearly demarcated and fixed in the everyday life of school, and the difference between these positions is both wide and steep. The negative images and stigma connected to special education still dominates everyday sense-making, even if the school culture has also become more sensitive to stigmatization and works to challenge and deconstruct it. The division between special and ordinary is steepest in the student culture. Student culture is very sensitive to the dividing practices and divisions made by the school institution. The special that is formed and reformed in everyday practices and repetitions of the school culture appears as a fixed position with no alternative, defined by cemented cultural meanings. The study suggests that in order to change the division between normal and special and challenge the meanings connected to special, schools needs to look for new ways of explicitly discuss and work on these meanings and the practices producing them.