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  • 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
  • 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
  • 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.
  • Simola, Petteri (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    Sleep plays a significant role in human functioning and wellbeing. It is of particular importance for young children, whose brains undergo significant developmental changes. This dissertation focuses on sleep problems among preschool-age children, the persistence of these problems until school age, and how they relate in establishing a behaviour and emotional wellbeing at school age. The importance of sleep quality to neural basis of sensory information processing and attention regulation among school age children was also assessed. According to the results of a population-based survey, sleep problems are very common in preschool-age children. Parents of almost half of the children surveyed reported frequent sleep problems most typically resistance to going to bed and difficulties falling asleep, followed by snoring, bruxism and sleep talking. Frequent bedtime resistance and difficulties falling asleep were also reported in a follow-up study of school-age children, as well as difficulty getting out of bed in the morning and early morning fatigue. Overall, the frequency of sleep difficulties decreased at school age. However, more than a third of the preschool-age children with sleep difficulties continued to have such problems at school age, when they were at the highest risk of experiencing comorbid emotional and behavioural problems. On the other hand, only a few children developed sleep problems at school age. Sleep quality among school-age children, measured objectively by means of actigraphy was associated with event-related brain potentials reflecting auditory information processing and attention regulation. Children with lower sleep quality had enhanced N2 and mismatch negativity responses, presumably reflecting hypersensitive reactivity to sounds, compared with children who sleep well. Sleep problems, therefore, appear to be a major challenge for the wellbeing of children at preschool and school-age. It appears from the results of this study that such problems are more common in younger age group, and that few children develop them later on. Therefore, preschool-age children and their families should be a major target group in identifying and treating sleep problems. It is essential to attend to such problems at preschool-age so as to prevent them from persisting over the longer term and adversely affecting the development of brain functions and behavioural and socio-emotional regulation.
  • 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
  • Rytkönen, Anni (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    Web-based learning environments are provided for Finnish university teaching personnel as centrally maintained systems. Technical development and system life cycles put pressure on the selection and changing of systems at regular intervals. This was what happened at the University of Helsinki when Blackboard was changed to Moodle between 2008 and 2011. Teachers who were used to using one system were asked to change to another one. The change process was the context for the present study, with the main goal of determining what the process of adopting another web-based learning environment would reveal from teachers as users and adopters of educational technology at the University of Helsinki. To reach the goals, four main research questions were defined as 1. How can University of Helsinki teachers be described as users of technology in teaching? 2. What do experienced users focus their thinking on in using technology in teaching? 3. How do the teachers utilize technology in teaching? 4. How do users adopt changes in technology used in teaching? Data was collected with four questionnaires, including altogether 697 responses, and with 11 interviews between 2008 and 2011, and was analyzed using a mixed methods approach. The results illustrated the majority of casual use of web-based learning environments. Further, simple web-based methods such as distributing materials were largely used instead of pedagogically more meaningful methods such as group work. Interviewed, experienced users expressed expertise that was balanced toward either technology or education or illustrated pedagogically motivated and technologically advanced thinking. Teachers expressed two major strategies in adopting new educational technology: as soon as possible by typically working on their own or as late as possible, typically with an interest in a variety of interpersonal methods. The adoption process additionally illustrated the lack of organizational support in decision-making and the systematic use of educational technology in many faculties. Teachers perceived that they were more on their own than they would have wanted. Recommending, selecting, and changing educational technology should be seen as part of overall teaching support and development instead of additional and voluntary fun for the motivated ones. Therefore, support in teaching design using educational technology should be focused on more in department-level processes and department management support.
  • Lindfors, Olavi (Terveyden ja hyvinvoinnin laitos, 2014)
    Personality functioning and psychotherapy outcome Personality dysfunction is manifested in interpersonal interactions and self-concept. It generates vulnerability to psychopathology and increases the risk of recurring symptoms and impaired work ability. Change in personality functioning is considered a major goal of psychotherapy, but published studies comparing different psychotherapeutic treatments on the subject are scarce. Likewise, the suitability of short-term and long-term therapy has been suggested to be partly determined by the patient s personality functioning but only limited research evidence on the issue is available. Accordingly, assessment of these personality factors with reliable and valid instruments and knowledge on their prediction on outcome are needed for selecting the most optimal treatment for patients. The aims of this study were to study the effectiveness of short-term and long-term psychotherapy on personality functioning for patients with anxiety or mood disorder, and to study the respective prediction of personality functioning on outcomes, during a 3-year follow-up. The subjects consisted of 326 outpatients with anxiety or mood disorder, randomized to short-term or long-term psychotherapy in the Helsinki Psychotherapy Study (HPS). Altogether 97 patients were randomly assigned to solution-focused therapy (SFT), 101 patients to short-term psychodynamic psychotherapy (SPP) and 128 patients to long-term psychodynamic psychotherapy (LPP). The patients psychological status was monitored by questionnaires and interviews before randomization and at 3, 7, 9, 12, 18, 24 and 36 months after the baseline during the 3-year follow-up. Key personality factors in the study were the quality of object relations and self-concept, measured by the Quality of Object Relations Scale (QORS), assessed at baseline with interview, and the Structural Analysis of Social Behavior self-concept questionnaire (SASB). The QORS was used as a predictor variable and as an effect modifying factor. The SASB was used both as a predictor and an outcome variable, the main dimensions measured being affiliation (AF) and autonomy (AU), as well as the secondary sub-scores: self-free, self-affirm, self-love, self-protect, self-control, self-blame, self-attack, and self-neglect. Outcomes in psychiatric symptoms were assessed by the Global Severity Index and the Anxiety Scale of the self-report Symptom Check List 90 (SCL-90-GSI, SCL-90-ANX), and by the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). Outcomes in work ability were assessed by three self-report questionnaires, the Work Ability Index (WAI), the work subscale of the Social Adjustment Scale (SAS-work), and with the Perceived Psychological Functioning (PPF) scale. In study I, a methodological cross-sectional study, the concurrent validity of the QORS was examined in a subgroup of 263 patients, and found to be adequate, showing discontinuity and devaluation in relationship to be its main determinants, in line with the theoretical scale constituents. Study II was a randomized clinical trial which compared the effectiveness of the two short-term psychotherapies (SFT and SPP) and LPP on self-concept during the 3-year follow-up. Self-concept improved faster during the first year of follow-up in the short-term therapies than in LPP in most of the self-concept scores, whereas at the 3-year follow-up LPP was more effective than SFT in AF, self-affirm, self-blame and self-neglect. No difference between the short-term and long-term psychodynamic therapies was noted at any measurement point. Long duration and psychodynamic orientation of therapy may thus benefit self-concept improvement in comparison to a short-term, supportive therapy like SFT. Support for the relevance of personality functioning also in the selection of treatment was received from Study III, which was based on the previous study and evaluated the effect modification of the quality of object relations on changes in self-concept, in the two short-term therapies and in LPP. The effectiveness of SFT, but not SPP, was significantly poorer in AF, AU, self-attack, self-love and self-free, for patients with less mature relational patterns (low QORS) than for patients with high QORS, mostly in several follow-up points. Contrary, low QORS predicted better outcome in LPP, albeit to a lesser degree, during the first follow-up year in AF, self-attack and self-love. Finally, in Study IV, the prediction of the QORS and the SASB self-concept scores (AF, AU) on psychiatric symptoms and work ability in short-term and long-term therapy was studied in a cohort study design. As no differences were found between the short-term therapies, a short-term therapy group was formed by combining SFT and SPP, to increase statistical power in the analyses. Negative self-concept (low AF) strongly and overly controlling self-concept (low AU) modestly predicted greater early gains in psychiatric symptoms and work ability in short-term therapy than in LPP. However, at the 3-year follow-up low AF predicted better outcomes in LPP, by a greater reduction in psychiatric symptoms. More limited long-term benefits in LPP vs. short-term therapy were found in symptoms and work ability among the patients with low AU and low QORS. Patients with relatively good personality functioning (high AF, high AU, high QORS) experienced consistently more extensive benefits in work ability and mostly also in psychiatric symptoms, after LPP than after short-term therapy. In conclusion, patients with anxiety or mood disorders, with mild to moderate personality pathology, benefited more in terms of psychiatric symptoms from LPP than from short-term psychotherapy in the long run. This was most evident in the reduction of depressive symptoms among the LPP patients with negative self-concept. Further, the findings showed that favorable aspects of self-concept improved and unfavorable aspects decreased to a greater extent after LPP than after SFT during the 3-year follow-up. The fact that higher QORS was associated with more extensive benefits in self-concept in SFT, suggests that SFT is applicable especially for patients with relatively good personality functioning. Instead, patients with low QORS experienced additional benefits in some areas of self-concept, during the first year in LPP. This indicates that LPP gave them a beneficial start for continuing to work out their problems in self-concept. Thus negative self-concept and low QORS may indicate the need for a more intensive or lengthier psychotherapeutic treatment. Another important issue concerns the finding that short-term therapy generally gave faster benefits in symptoms, work ability and self-concept than LPP, but was more frequently insufficient in providing sustained benefits. Accordingly, careful pre-treatment evaluation is needed to screen those patients for whom short-term therapy or LPP should be considered. The finding that patients with relatively good personality functioning also experienced more extensive benefits after LPP in symptoms and work ability, suggests that patients capacities and motivation for LPP, along with their dysfunction, need to be acknowledged when considering treatment options. More research is needed to confirm the findings and to help in the development of more effective psychotherapies and therapist training. Further research on the relative importance of different personality functioning dimensions on the outcome of short-term and long-term psychotherapies, in comparison with other patient-related factors, will deepen understanding on the most essential predictors of outcome. Further effectiveness research during a longer follow-up is also needed to explore differences in sustained benefits of the therapies, by a more extensive battery of personality functioning factors and in comparison to other outcome dimensions. Keywords: anxiety disorder, mood disorder, object relations, outcome, prediction, psychodynamic, psychotherapy, self-concept, solution-focused
  • Toivonen, Kaisu Maria (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    This doctoral thesis focuses on the interpretation of children s ethical growth and education in the Finnish education system through the lens of a specific philosophical approach. The hermeneutic frame of reference is a systematic-holistic model based on Lauri Rauhala s view of the human being and the situational regulation system. It has been widened in this thesis partly concerning socialization and the education system using Urie Bronfenbrenner´s ecological socialization theory. As the level of pre-understanding, Kohlberg´s cognitive-structural theory of moral development is applied. In this research the concepts of human being, personality, value and education have been applied in accordance with existential and phenomenological philosophy. The concepts of good, value mastering and the ethics of virtue are the guiding principles of value and ethical education.The research problem is as follows: what kind of knowledge will emerge as being applicable to ethical education in a postmodern Finnish education system? It was found that ethical growth begins at birth. This is contrary to the previous belief, according to which ethical awareness would emerge as late as at the age of six. Early interaction is also an important part of ethical growth. Personality development is by nature open, dynamic and holistic. It consists of a physical dimension, consciousness and situational components. The subjective world view is built on holistic experience and meaning. It is influenced by concrete situational and ideological factors. In this way children are immediately brought into relation with situational values, moral ideas, norms and rules. This way children create different meanings when building their own world view. During interaction between growth and education the child´s capacity for empathy, feelings, self-control and thinking will become integral parts of their moral action. As a result, ethical growth and social competence will develop. Cognition and the appreciation of values are but one way of looking at ethical growth and moral action. At the micro level, interaction between growth and education takes place between children, parents, friends, homes and schools. It also means that actions transpire at the meso-, exo- and macro levels as well. In the postmodern age, children´s growth and living experiences are strongly affected by media, which creates universal feelings, knowledge and values. In addition, professional educators are affected by laws and other official documents. The aim of dialogical education is the good life and ideals of becoming oneself. Freedom and responsibility are the cornerstones of modern ethics and morality. The educational tradition is no longer enough. In this rapidly changing world with its flood of information, the capacity to make ethically lasting choices is needed. In supporting holistic personal growth, and with the help of value-competence and virtue ethics, individual ethical growth can be developed. This should be taken into account more directly than previously in the Finnish educational context and specially in its official documents. Keywords: dialogical education, ecological socialization theory, ethical education, ethics, existential and phenomenological concept of human being, hermeneutic analysis, moral development, morality, person, systemic- holistic model, values.
  • Helin, Mari (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    TEACHERS` PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT AS A CONTINUUM − Educational Partnership Between the University and Schools Building a continuum between teachers´ initial and in-service education is a challenge in Finland as well as worldwide. A basic principle and overall model for in-service education is missing. A possible in-service education model for the future is considered in this research. The theoretical part of the study focuses on teachers´ professional development and the partnership between university and school. This partnership includes teacher-teacher mentoring, which has recently been successfully implemented in Finland. The needs for in-service education were investigated through a systematic literature review of international in-service education models. The position of development models of Finnish in-service education in teacher education programmes was also determined. Different stakeholders including teachers, headmasters, school administrators, teacher educators in university, other teacher educators as well as state education administrators were interviewed in groups. In-service education as a continuum of professional development should be every teacher´s right, and duty, and in-service education could facilitate teachers´ tasks, improve their performance and boost their salaries. Utilizing the latest research findings in in-service education was seen by the interviewees as important, due to which universities were regarded as the most suitable organizers of in-service education. School community and mentoring in particular was seen as the main avenue for in-service education. The interviewees felt that the school community will be important in the future as teachers continue to develop together and the school becomes a learning community. The state and community were unanimously seen as the financers of in-service education. In the model proposed here, continuing in-service education contains four vertical continuums which are preceded by induction education. Following the induction phase any of the four continuums, the research-based continuum, the practice-based continuum for working life needs, the partnership continuum and the updating continuum can be selected. These continuums would guarantee flexible in-service education possibilities for the teachers. Having a number of obligatory courses would ensure that teachers educate themselves regularly. In addition to that, teachers could be provided with opportunities to educate themselves more continuously. Future in-service education on the basis of these four continuums strives for constant education based on a learning community. Keywords: pre-service education, in-service education, professional development, lifelong education, continuum, school-university partnership, learning community, mentoring, Interplay research project
  • Guttorm, Hanna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    In this doctoral thesis I illustrate the becoming of my thesis and the materialization of poststructural theories in the practices of research and its writing. My ethnographic research on genderized craft education shifted to that of an autoethnographic investigation on the possibilities and justifications of knowing, as well as that of ethical questions: how is it possible to know about others or the discourses they are using? How do I position myself as a researcher in the prevailing practices of knowledge production? How is it possible to represent the world with a language, which always categorizes and divides? And how is it possible to illustrate the research process, while putting to work the poststructural theories not only in the analysis of the data, but also in the practices of manufacturing and writing the research. The epistemological and methodological questions became unavoidable with the theoretical frameworks I used: my work is inspired by poststructural theories and the Anglo-American and continental poststructural feminist societal and behavioural research inspired by them. As a result of these choices, it became possible for me to consider the manufacturing and writing of science as socially, historically, culturally and discursively constructed, and thus possible to become manufactured otherwise. In my research I contemplate the practices of knowledge production and the coming to know and illustrate what is happening in a doctoral thesis and how it occurs. I present some illustrations on the methods and research materials written throughout the research journey as well as the flow of questions in verse/poetic form. These texts, which I call nomadic writings, overlap with the theoretical texts written later on. Simultaneously I seek both rational and affective arguments for expanding the space of not-knowing, dignity, and co-creation in the academy and academic practices. In this research I settle upon writing love letters to my research participants/co-researchers. I demonstrate in my research, that writing in verse/poetic form manages to apply and represent the ongoing movement of the events, phenomena, and realities, that is, without grasping them. In its discontinuity and gaps the poetic language illustrates the partiality, constant incompleteness, ambiguity, and the procedural nature of knowing. In addition it creates space for breathing and holding thousands of different kinds of minds. And that always only a selected part is illustrated in the research report and that the choices can also be made differently And that the research becomes/arises in intra-action with the research communities, read, and countless (in Finnish also unread ) books, people, animals, artifacts, e.g. writing materials And that texts always fail or never reach reality in its entirety, while at the same time they are materials that can touch, and participate in creating the world Thus, one contribution of this research is to create space within Finnish behavioural sciences for poststructural autoethnographic writing, written from one s own moving place. For writing, where one s own and not-own sensing and thinking multivoice sounds.
  • Heinonen, Erkki (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    Although psychotherapies of different forms and lengths have been found effective for treating depressive and anxiety disorders, some therapists have been shown to be more effective than others in producing positive treatment outcomes. Yet little is known about the characteristics of the more effective therapists. Just as importantly, it is not known whether different therapist qualities are needed in therapies of differing forms and lengths. In contrast, a good working alliance between therapist and patient has been identified as one of the strongest and most consistent predictors of outcome across various therapy forms. The present study investigated therapists professional and personal characteristics as determinants of the therapists effectiveness by studying their ability to predict working alliances and therapy outcomes in two short-term and two long-term therapy forms. Additionally, the study explored correspondences between the professional and personal characteristics of therapists endorsing different therapy forms. In the Helsinki Psychotherapy Study, a total of 367 patients, aged 20-46 years and suffering from depressive or anxiety disorders, were randomly assigned to solution-focused therapy (n = 97), short-term psychodynamic psychotherapy (n = 101), and long-term psychodynamic psychotherapy (n = 128), with 41 patients self-selected to psychoanalysis. Treatments were provided by 71 volunteering psychotherapists who had an average of 17 years of therapy work experience. Working alliance was rated by both patient and therapist at the third therapy session and the 7 months follow-up point. Treatment outcome was assessed via patients self-reports of psychiatric symptoms at baseline and 9 times during a 5-year follow-up. The correspondences between therapists professional and personal characteristics were explored using an international database of over 10 000 therapists representing varied theoretical orientations, career levels, background professions, and nationalities. The therapists endorsed therapy models and their characteristics in both professional and personal life were assessed similarly via self-report. The Helsinki Psychotherapy Study results showed therapists professional and personal characteristics to predict working alliances and treatment outcomes differently in psychotherapies of different forms and lengths. Various experiences of unskillfulness and lack of enjoyment seemed potentially detrimental especially in the two short-term therapies, where a professionally confident, interpersonally active, and engaging manner seemed particularly needed. In comparison, a deliberate, non-intrusive, and considerate relational stance was found more beneficial in long-term psychodynamic therapy. A further consideration emerged in the comparison of long-term psychodynamic therapy to psychoanalysis, in which the benefits of a professionally restrained but personally highly 'present' relational stance in psychoanalysis was suggested. That such a dynamic between the professional and personal may not be uncommon was suggested by findings from the international therapist database: these findings showed that therapists adjust their professional manner from their personal manner in private life according to the expectations of their treatment models. Future studies aiming to replicate the present findings might assess therapist characteristics from additional perspectives, such as those of external observers and patients. Insofar as confirmed, results should have implications for improving the quality and flexibility of therapist training programs and supervision, and help in accommodating clinicians personal qualities with therapy models for optimizing effective training, learning, and therapy practice. Keywords: psychotherapy, psychotherapists, prediction of effectiveness, working alliance, depressive disorder, anxiety disorder
  • Vuoristo-Myllys, Salla (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    Randomized controlled trials and systematic reviews form a basis for evidence-based treatments of alcohol use disorders. However, generalizing the research findings of randomized controlled trials to clinical practice is sometimes difficult. Little is known about how many such treatments work in real-life treatment settings or to whom the results apply. The aim of this study was to investigate how one of the evidence-based treatments for alcohol dependence, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) combined with targeted (used as needed) naltrexone, works in a real-life treatment setting with a heterogeneous patient sample. The study specifically investigated which factors were prognostic of treatment dropout, treatment outcomes, and patient adherence to naltrexone. The study also investigated whether CBT combined with medication (naltrexone/acamprosate/ disulfiram) can improve patient well-being and quality of life, in addition to reducing alcohol consumption. The participants in studies I–III comprised of problem drinkers who attended an outpatient treatment program that combined CBT and naltrexone. The participants in study IV were treatment-seeking heavy drinkers who participated in a randomized controlled trial in which they received medication and CBT. In studies I–III, we evaluated the sociodemographic factors, alcohol-related factors and depressive symptoms of participants at treatment entry. We evaluated the change in alcohol consumption and symptoms of alcohol craving, as well as the patients’ adherence to naltrexone use during the 20 weeks of treatment. In study IV, we evaluated the change in the quality of life, depression, and smoking habits of participants during the treatment (52 weeks) and follow-up (119 weeks). In studies I–III, factors related to dropping out included a younger age, lower problem severity, lower adherence to naltrexone, and starting the treatment with abstinence. The alcohol-related outcomes were poorer for those with no previous treatment history and higher pretreatment alcohol consumption. Patients who drank more alcohol before and during the treatment had lower adherence to naltrexone. Poor naltrexone adherence was also associated with unemployment and a strong craving for alcohol. Study IV showed that in addition to significantly reducing drinking, combining medication and CBT can improve the quality of life, depression, and smoking habits of those patients who commit to treatment. Participants who used disulfiram were the most successful in quitting smoking. An important finding regarding routine treatment settings was the variability in how problem drinkers benefited from CBT and naltrexone. Those with lower problem severity may benefit from shorter interventions. However, those with the most severe alcohol problems may require more intensive and longer treatment, as well as the use of medications other than naltrexone. Non-adherence to medication is a barrier to the effectiveness of naltrexone in a real-life treatment setting, and those with a high craving for alcohol may need specific interventions to enhance medication use. For those who commit to treatment, CBT combined with medication may improve general well-being and quality of life, in addition to reduced drinking. The treatment may also help patients quit smoking, especially those who use disulfiram during treatment.
  • Tahkokallio, Leena (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    The study examines the kind of professional development catalysed by observation-based reflection in cooperation with a researcher in a Finnish daycare centre. More specific research questions were what kindergarten teachers reflect on, what kind of reflection teachers speech represents, and what kind of changes take place in the interpretative framework of the teacher. Four kindergarten teachers participated in this research project. Two of them were involved for two action research cycles (including evaluation, planning, improvement, and reflection), and two for three cycles. The goal of this research project was to support the professional development of kindergarten teachers by means of co-operation between the researcher, the kindergarten teachers and their teams, based on the quality of children s experiences in a kindergarten group of children aged 3 - 6 years. The data were produced by interviewing the teacher, discussing with her and her team, observing the involvement of the children and the engagement of the adult, and using various textual sources. The analysis of the data took place in two stages. In the first stage the analysis proceeded vertically,case by case. The second stage of the analysis was horizontal, with the emphasis on trying to find common meanings and the directions of change. A case description, drawing on the different types of data, summarises the process of each teacher and her group. The descriptions are based on the analysed interviews, the evaluation and reflection discussions carried out with the teachers, analysis of the systematic observation of adult engagement and the involvement of the children and of and analysis of the [textual] documents. In the second stage the cases were compared and examined horizontally. Firstly, the results show that observing the children catalysed new interpretations of the children s experiences and the adult s role in relation to them. Secondly, it was discovered that the children s peer relations explain in important measure their involvement an observation which prompted the teachers to reflect on the possibilities of adults affecting these relations in a constructive way. Thirdly, the research process led all the teachers to reflect holistically on their own role, and on the development of their working methods, in relationship to their earlier interpretations of the role of the adult and the idea of child-oriented pedagogy. As regards the quality of their reflection and how their ways of reflecting changed, the personal research-orientated approach of the teacher and her ability to connect her reflections to the experiences of the children were significant. Cooperation with the researcher led the teachers to reflect not only on shared research topics but also on various personal themes which arose from the individual experiences of the teachers and from the particularities of the different day-care settings. The objects of reflection and its quality are thus indicative, firstly, of the personal professional development of the teacher and what she considers meaningful and, secondly, more generally of the central questions of early childhood pedagogics. It is common to describe institutional development as a process in which abstract transformative speech slowly catalyses a real change. This study, however, shows that observation-based evaluation of children's experiences may trigger a profound professional learning process, during which the teacher has to reinterpret, and partly question, not only her own working methods but also the dominant pedagogical discourse and the unspoken rules and contracts affecting the day-care setting.
  • Vekkaila, Jenna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    This dissertation study explored students engagement in the doctoral process and factors associated with it. Doctoral students experiences of engagement were investigated in three studies, while the associated factors were analysed in a further two. The dissertation used a mixed-methods approach; accordingly, the data were collected through interviews and surveys, and were analysed by combining qualitative and quantitative methods. Study I investigated the key learning experiences that the students perceived to be either inspiring or challenging in their doctoral process. Altogether 19 natural sciences doctoral students were interviewed. The majority of the key learning experiences identified by the students were positive. Most of the experiences were related to the students participation in the scholarly community, developing as a scholar, and developing specific research competencies. The students situated such experiences typically in various scholarly activities including research work, courses, and academic meetings. Study II focused on analysing students engagement by exploring the main experiences and sources, as well as the qualitatively different forms of engagement in the doctoral process. Altogether 21 behavioural sciences doctoral students were interviewed. The students described their engagement in terms of experiences of dedication, efficiency, and sometimes absorption. They typically emphasised their sense of competence and relatedness as the main sources of engagement. In the students descriptions three qualitatively different forms of engagement in doctoral work were also identified: an adaptive form of engagement, an agentic form of engagement, and a work-life inspired form of engagement. Further, there was variation among the students in terms of what forms of engagement they emphasised in different phases of their doctoral studies. Study III focused on students disengagement by exploring the main experiences and sources of disengagement from the doctoral process. Also, the students perceptions of the dynamic interplay between themselves and their environments with respect to disengaging experiences were explored by analysing the perceived misfits between the students and their environments. Altogether 16 behavioural sciences doctoral students were interviewed. The students described their disengagement in terms of experiences of inefficacy, cynicism, and sometimes exhaustion. They typically emphasised their struggles and conflicts within the scholarly community as the main source of disengagement. The students typically attributed their disengagement to the perceived misfit between themselves and their environments, and in particular often associated the problem with the scholarly community rather than themselves. Study IV focused on the collective fit between doctoral students and their environments that had contributed to their engagement. Altogether 1 184 doctoral students and 431 supervisors from different disciplines participated in the surveys. The collective fit was explored at the faculty level in terms of similarities and differences in the students and supervisors perceptions of the main resources and challenges with respect to the doctoral process. The relation between the perceived fit and the doctoral students satisfaction with their study process and supervision was explored. The results showed that either a fit, a partial fit, or a misfit existed between the students and supervisors perceptions in the different faculties. A relation was also found between the collective fit and students satisfaction with their overall study process and supervisory support. This dissertation contributes to the literature on doctoral student engagement by breaking down the complexity of engagement; it does this by identifying the qualitatively different experiences, sources, and forms of engagement. Moreover, the study reveals the nature of engagement at the interface of study and work by shedding light on the dual role of doctoral students as both students and professional researchers. Further, the results provide a new understanding of the perceived student learning environment fit as a primary determinant of doctoral student engagement. The results encourage viewing doctoral student engagement as a complex, multidimensional phenomenon supported by the constructive interplay between doctoral students and their learning environments that fosters students meaningful participation and a sense of belonging in their scholarly communities. Keywords: doctoral education, doctoral process, doctoral student, engagement, disengagement, learning environment, scholarly community, student environment fit
  • Määttänen, Ilmari (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    Sudden deaths among seemingly healthy young individuals often have a cardiac origin. The long QT-syndrome (LQTS) is one of such potentially lethal cardiac conditions. LQTS is inherited and congenital, and it is typically characterized by a prolonged QT- interval in the electrocardiogram. The mutations that cause LQTS are known and they form several different LQTS subtypes. These mutations most commonly affect the potassium-channel encoding genes KCNQ1 and KCNH2 which define subtypes LQTS1 and LQTS2, and the sodium-effecting ion channel gene SCN5A which defines the subtype LQTS3. It is still unknown why some LQTS mutation carriers become symptomatic while others do not. Previous studies have attempted to uncover the causes behind LQTS symptoms by asking patients about specific events in their imminent environments during symptom onset ( what were you doing/what happened before you had the arrhythmia ). However, these studies typically have not employed rigorous psychometric questionnaires. In the current studies, data from 70-259 symptomatic and 103-328 asymptomatic LQTS mutation carriers, 203 relatives and 79-2056 people from the general Finnish population were utilised. The goal of the thesis was to study what causes symptoms in LQTS. More specifically, it was studied whether or not the symptomatic LQTS mutation carriers differ from asymptomatic ones in their stress proneness, as measured by two temperament scales: Cloninger's TCI and Gray's RST. In addition, to assess environmental stress, questionnaires measuring work stress based on the models by Karasek and Siegrist and their job control-demand and effort-reward scales were employed. Also two additional measures (scales) were employed to assess the interaction between environment and personality traits related to experiencing stress. First, Framingham s type A scale was employed to assess stressful work involvement i.e., individual tendency to experience one's working environment as stressful. Second, the Cope questionnaire and Stressful life events scale were employed to measure the level of emotional distress subjects experienced in response to a stressful life event in the past 12 months. The results indicated that all LQTS mutation carriers (symptomatic and asymptomatic) were equally stress prone, as measured by stress-related temperament sub-scales (harm avoidance and behavioural inhibition). However, the symptomatic patients experienced higher levels of work stress of both scales. In addition, the symptomatic patients experienced higher levels of both stressful work involvement and emotional distress in response to a stressful life event in the past 12 months. Subsequent research should combine the data on the environmental stressors which most likely lead to symptoms, whereby a putative risk score system could be established. Risk scores would enable identifying individuals who are at high risk. Subsequently, pertinent interventions and medical and other attention could be directed at these individuals.
  • Putkinen, Vesa (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    Musical experience may have the potential to influence functional brain development. The present thesis investigated how the maturation of neural auditory discrimination in childhood varies according to the amount of informal musical activities (e.g., singing and musical play) and formal musical training. Neural auditory discrimination was examined by recording auditory event-related potentials (ERP) to different types of sound changes with electroencephalography (EEG) in children of various ages. The relation of these responses to the amount of informal musical activities was examined in 2 3-year-old children. Furthermore, the development of the responses from early school-age until preadolescence was compared between children receiving formal musical training and musically nontrained children. With regard to typical maturation, the results suggest that neural auditory discrimination is still immature at the age of 2 3 years and continues to develop at least until pre-adolescence. Both informal musical experience and formal musical training were found to modulate various stages of neural auditory discrimination. Specifically, in the 2 3-year-old children, a high amount of informal musical activities was associated with response profiles consistent with enhanced processing of auditory changes and lowered distractibility. Furthermore, during school-age, musically trained children showed more rapid development of neural auditory discrimination than nontrained children especially for music-like sounds. Importantly, no differences were seen between the musically trained and nontrained children at the early stages of the training. Therefore, the group differences that emerged at later ages were most likely due to training and did not reflect pre-existing functional differences between the groups. Thus, the results (i) highlight the usefulness of change-related auditory ERPs as biomarkers for the maturation of auditory processing, (ii) provide novel evidence for the role of informal musical activities in shaping auditory skills in early childhood, and (iii) demonstrate that formal musical training shapes the development of neural auditory discrimination.