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  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Mittag, Maria (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    The processing of audiovisual information is ubiquitous in our daily life. As such, understanding the cortical correlates of audiovisual processing and its interactions offers a promise of practical interventions in many real-life settings. Reading, as one example, relies on the formation of artificial audiovisual associations and requires adaptions from brain mechanisms in order to process and integrate these connections effortlessly. In dyslexia, reading problems are associated with a failure in forming those associations, and neural changes and improvements of reading skills in children with dyslexia were reported after interventions ameliorated those processes. The present thesis investigates the neural networks associated with speech sound processing and discrimination when accompanied by printed text. In all studies, a high-density EEG system was utilized, enabling the examination of spatio-temporal dynamics of audiovisual processing in adult fluent readers and in readers with dyslexia. In fluent adult readers, change-related responses to consonant and pitch changes were greater when presented with printed text than with scrambled images, suggesting that letters modulate speech sound discrimination at an early cortical processing stage. This integration was sensitive to precise temporal alignment between the sounds and printed text, as it broke down when a time delay between the sounds and print was introduced. In contrast to fluent readers, adult readers with dyslexia showed a general attenuated discrimination of speech sounds when presented with print. Their neural responses for speech sounds presented with print did not differ from those presented with scrambled images. Our results, therefore, suggest that audiovisual processing is generally impaired in dyslexia, and support the notion that letter representations are poorer in readers with dyslexia than fluent readers. In addition, audiovisual processing was delayed in readers with dyslexia, suggesting a deficit in concurrent processing of multiple sensory cues. The studies of this thesis also show that attention to one of the modalities is needed for the audiovisual integration to occur, and, moreover, that audiovisual attention boosts the integration. Furthermore, our results reveal that, in addition to attention, the phonological content of the task modulates letter-speech sound processing. The studies presented in the present thesis confirmed, with a more controlled methodology, that letters modulate speech sound discrimination at an early neural level. The present results illuminate the way these processes are impaired in dyslexia, and, further, that audiovisual attention is most beneficial for such an integration to occur. To conclude, the studies at hand have shed novel light on the basic and aberrant mechanisms of letter-speech sound processing, and can be used, for instance, in training programs to promote accurate mapping of letters and speech sounds, and, consequently, reading skills in individuals with dyslexia.
  • Pulkka, Antti-Tuomas (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    The purpose of this dissertation was to examine the role that adult students achievement goal orientations play in their perceptions of their learning environment (course evaluations) and performance. Accordingly a learning environment questionnaire was developed, students goal orientation profiles and their stability were examined, and associations between goal orientations, course-specific goals, and course evaluations and performance were looked at. The samples came from the National Defence University. Study I consisted of two substudies. Substudy 1 (N=194) focused on the development of the learning environment questionnaire, while Substudy 2 (N=167) examined whether students course evaluations varied as a function of their goal orientation profiles. In Study II (N=169), the stability and change in goal orientations and their relations to course evaluations were examined. Study III (N=88) looked at the predictive relations between students achievement goal orientations, course evaluations and performance. Study IV (N=88) examined how students achievement goal orientation and self-reported course-specific goals were related to each other, and how they predicted the students course evaluations and performance. Following the person-centred approach, the students were grouped based on their goal orientation profiles. The mastery-oriented students were focused on learning and understanding. The success-oriented students strived toward learning, and absolute and relative success. The performance-oriented students emphasized success but also had concerns about social comparison. The indifferent students displayed little emphasis on any goals. The avoidance-oriented students were focused on minimizing effort, as well as avoiding challenges and failure. The goal orientation profiles were stable: 60% of students retained the same goal orientation profile over time. The students course evaluations varied as a function of their goal orientation profiles. Mastery- and performance- or success-oriented students were most positive in their evaluations when compared to avoidance-oriented or indifferent students. As well, slight differences were observed concerning literature-examination scores: the performance-oriented students scored the highest. In sum, the emphasis on learning and absolute success seems adaptive, whereas an emphasis on avoidance seems maladaptive. With regard to predictive relationships, the students motivational orientations were linked to their course evaluations and achievement, achievement was related to course evaluations, and different pedagogical practices accounted for some of the variation in these relationships. Regarding course-specific goals, by far most frequently, the students open answers included responses displaying goals of gaining career qualifications as well as mastery-intrinsic goals. The presences of mastery-intrinsic and mastery-extrinsic goals were associated with higher course evaluations, whereas the presence of work-avoidance goals was associated with lower course evaluations. However, the course-specific goals were only weakly related to the goal orientation profiles. All in all, the results show the common motivational profiles being displayed in a selective adult-student sample, and that these profiles are related to students perceptions of their learning environment and their own role in relation to it. Further, the results concerning the stability support the conceptualization of goal orientation as motivational disposition. The results concerning students open-ended answers show that not all goal orientation dimensions were present, or present at equal frequency, and that the students also described their purposes in more instrumental terms. Despite being quite independent from goal orientation profiles, these course-specific goals were very similarly related to the course evaluations. Based on these findings, instructors need to be aware of both the personal and contextual factors affecting students interpretations of teaching, as these interpretations may further influence motivation and learning. Students are not a homogenous group in their purposes and approaches as regards learning and studying, and these differing emphases lead to distinct preferences for and interpretations of the various aspects of the learning environment.
  • Posti-Ahokas, Hanna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    Secondary education is a critical concern and focus of policy interest in Tanzania as well as throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. The rapid expansion and deteriorating quality of the secondary education sector has raised questions regarding the social and personal relevance of the existing system. This study explores and presents the voices and perspectives of female students concerning critical policy issues in the development of secondary education in Tanzania. The study analyses how students perspectives can complement and contrast with both the national and international policy approach to the development of secondary education. Using a critical approach, the study focuses on the experiences, plans and aspirations of female students, who are an under-represented and under-performing group in post-primary education. The study analyses the social and cultural contexts that influence the advancement of girls and young women and which motivate them to pursue further education. The conceptual framework is drawn from theories on future orientation and on the transition to adulthood. Student voice research is applied and explored as a strategy to present the students perspectives so that they could be included in policy dialogue from which they have previously been excluded. The personal relevance of education in the lives and future orientation of 100 Tanzanian female secondary students living in the city of Dar es Salaam was analysed using qualitative methods aiming at giving students voice. Data were collected through 1) empathy-based stories and 2) a semi-structured qualitative questionnaire focusing on the plans, experiences and future orientation of students enrolled in lower-secondary education. The realised transitions from lower-secondary to upper-secondary education were followed up through 3) individual interviews (n=7). Finally, 4) a policy text analysis was conducted to reflect the critical issues brought up by students against the documented policy articulations. The results of the study emphasise the importance of personal effort and learning strategies for advancement in education in students thinking. During secondary education, and particularly the transition from the lower- to upper-secondary level, the family is a critical enabling and constraining context for female students advancement. Peers, educated seniors and religious groups also provide significant support to students, with school-related factors playing only a marginal role in the students considerations. Secondary education is given both instrumental and intrinsic value by the students, who want to continue education beyond lower-secondary school in order to reach their personal and professional goals. Education is considered a key for the transition to adulthood and to gaining a good life. The study contributes to discussions on the relational nature of aspirations, future orientation and youth transitions. Experiences with a student-centred approach show how research can be used to voice female students perspectives on critical policy concerns. The study concludes that the students perspectives provide complementary and contesting views to development of Tanzanian secondary education. Further research utilising student-centred methodologies and student voice is encouraged to include students perspectives in the dialogue on the development of education in Tanzania and elsewhere. Key words: relevance, student voice, secondary education, Tanzania, Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Chang, Chia-Chien (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    The main purpose of the study was to investigate how highly educated (university-educated) Taiwanese women acquire, transfer and transform their cultural capital through their middle-class habitus to seek a self-acceptable social position in Finnish society. The study s theoretical frameworks have drawn on Bourdieu s concept of habitus, capital, field, and practice, and incorporate an intersectionality perspective into the data analysis. This study employed a feminist standpoint epistemology in terms of epistemic commitments and used narrative inquiry with thematic analysis as the methodological strategy. Narrative inquiry as a methodological approach was used to elicit the stories of ten Taiwanese women who married Finns and immigrated to Finland. The data were produced through life-story interviews conducted in the women s first language, Chinese or Taiwanese in 2006. The discussion of the findings has been organized according to the three key themes: employability, underemployment, and mothering. The common pattern of downward social mobility for first generation immigrants was found to repeat among these highly educated Taiwanese women, a pattern is not independent of questions of race/ethnicity in the Finnish labor market. Despite the weak link between cultural capital and employment outcomes, many of them have had no choice but to stay optimistic by improving their never-good-enough Finnish language skills and acquiring more education or training. Some of the women have turned to care work beyond their previous training and formal qualifications; they have made compromises, have retrained and work as practical nurses due to a lack of employment opportunities in their fields. Acculturation and maintaining their heritage within the Finnish context have become problematic for many of the women and their mothering practices. In order to secure and maintain a better position for their children, the women raise their children as Finnish children by distancing themselves from their Taiwanese cultural heritage and espousing Finnishness. Paradoxically, these highly educated Taiwanese women are confined to a marginal position in the Finnish labor market, but on the other hand, middle-class privilege is identified in their mothering practices in terms of parental involvement in their children s education. Their home-based and school-based parental involvement hold the greatest hope for their children s realization of their full potential and ultimately maintaining their status as middle-class members of the dominant group. The stories of these Taiwanese women disclose how the intersections of social class, gender and race/ethnicity (re)produce inequalities in a Finnish context.
  • Pelli-Kouvo, Päivi (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    The aim of this study was to explore how to enhance English teaching and learning by combining Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) with formal language teaching in a primary school, in classes 1 6. The study was conducted in the form of a teaching experiment, the acronym for which is LEO, from the Finnish translation of learning English more effectively . The theoretical part of this study consists of an overview of Finnish core curricula and their role in the planning and implementation of CLIL teaching. Relevant theories and models of second and foreign language learning and teaching are discussed with a focus on learning and teaching through a foreign language. Vocabulary learning receives special emphasis. The study presents the characteristics and key terms of CLIL and introduces the CLIL application LEO model developed in this study. The empirical phase of the research took place at Aurora School in Espoo, Finland during the 2001 02, 2002 03 and 2003 4 school years as part of the pupils (N=346) normal schooling. The teacher-researcher carried out the teaching experiment with eight extra lessons per week. The main objective of LEO teaching and this study was to develop a CLIL model in which all the pupils can take part in content and language integrated teaching in English based on the curriculum. The research tested how mathematics, art and environmental studies can be applied to CLIL subjects in LEO teaching. An important research area focused on pupils vocabulary development in LEO teaching. The study used the action research method with some features of design research. The research is both qualitative and quantitative, and the data consist of pupils tests and their test results. The outcome of the teaching experiment is a model called LEO, which is a CLIL application for classes 1 6 in Finnish primary schools. The school subjects taught in the teaching experiment (mathematics, art and environmental studies) are well suited to LEO teaching. The results of the study indicated that the pupils vocabulary skills developed positively as a result of LEO instruction. This study provides valuable data on the sparse didactic of Finnish CLIL research. The report describes the teaching experiment in such detail and clarity that the reader can apply the LEO model in primary school. Keywords: action research, Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL), foreign language vocabulary learning and teaching, foreign language and CLIL learning, foreign language and CLIL teaching, integration of school subjects
  • 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