Browsing by Issue Date

Sort by: Order: Results:

Now showing items 1-20 of 395
  • Meretniemi, Maija (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    This dissertation uses the approach of history of ideas and consepts to examine how the concepts of a good home and spiritual motherhood were seen by kindergarten teachers. These concepts were the guiding principles of Finnish kindergartens from approximately 1890 to 1950. The key research problem explored in the dissertation is the tension between the private and the public in the intellectual foundations of kindergarten activities, in the objectives of these activities and in the self-understanding of kindergarten teachers. The dissertation poses the following questions: How was the concept of spiritual motherhood, as emphasised in the kindergarten ideology, manifested in the professional dialogue of kindergarten teachers? What meanings were ascribed to it and what tensions were involved in its interpretations? What kinds of physical environments and everyday practices did kindergarten teachers create in kindergartens based on the concept of a good home? What arguments did kindergarten teachers use when responding to proposals and calls to expand the kindergarten day care to a full-time day care? The research material includes the diaries and letters of the major actors involved in the early stages of kindergarten education, archival resources related to the education, and biographical and interview material from providers of kindergarten education. The key figures in the study are Hanna Rothman and Elisabeth Alander, both pioneers of kindergarten education, and Elsa Borenius, who developed kindergarten work. Through these individuals, this dissertation analyses the reception aforementioned concepts as well as their processing and application in the education and work of kindergarten teachers. Introduced by Friedrich Fröbel and Henriette Schrader-Breymann, the concepts of a good home and spiritual motherhood were adopted in Finnish kindergarten work largely in their original form. The concepts were shaped by the religious convictions of Hanna Rothman and Elisabeth Alander: spiritual motherhood was close to religious motherhood, and kindergarten work in its early stages was viewed as Christian social missionary work in a pedagogical framework. As a spiritual mother, the female kindergarten educator had to place herself in the service of love for the benefit of those close to her. This expectation created tensions in education and easily resulted in teachers becoming exhausted in their work. The principle of spiritual motherhood guided the professional image of kindergarten teachers for several decades and linked the kindergarten closely with the private, rather than the public, sphere. Maternal qualities were considered professional requirements which weakened the connection between kindergarten teaching and the worlds of school and academia. Initially, kindergarten teaching was an ambivalent profession lying between motherhood and teaching. It was a caring occupation characterised by a strict ethical code and unselfishness. The Christian values of the kindergarten came under scrutiny as the work began to develop into a public social service. The ideal of a good home informed the planning of kindergarten facilities as home-like environments based on the teachers own bourgeois homes. Kindergarten teachers themselves designed the kindergarten facilities and furniture. The kitchen was considered particularly important. The sense of community and social growth were promoted through both pedagogy of work and common activities in the kindergarten. The ideal of the home, emphasis on the link between mother and child, and part-time day care in the kindergarten constituted a practice that was difficult to break when calls for the expansion of full-time day care began to come from various directions of society in the 1940s and 1950s. Kindergarten teachers opposed full-time day care by appealing to children s own good and and the principle of home as the primary environment for child rearing before school age. The teachers felt that part-time day care could satisfy the need for early childhood education. To resolve the issue of full-time day care, the kindergarten teachers suggested as early as the late 1940s that mothers work part-time or receive a maternity salary . From 1918 onwards, separate groups were established in kindergartens for school children in full-time day care, but these groups did not develop as anticipated. The ideological tradition of the pioneers of kindergarten education emphasised religion, spiritual motherhood and Fröbel s pedagogy. The rules of the Ebeneser Foundation, which provided training in the field, were tied to Christian values. This tradition conduced to the uniformity of kindergarten teacher education, but also separated it from other teacher education and may have hampered its academic development. The `shine of spiritual motherhood´wore off when the realities of the profession set in. Changes in social policy began to affect day care arrangements only after the end of my research period. The ideal of the home remained unchanged, although what originally began as private kindergarten work gradually developed into a publicly funded and managed activity. Keywords: History of the kindergarten, a good home, spiritual motherhood, pedagogy of work, part-time day care, full-time day care, day care for schoolchildren
  • Aarnio, Matti (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    Today's medical education faces the challenge of developing students competencies to resolve ever more complex problems in collaboration with other professionals. Problem-based learning (PBL) has proven useful for developing many of the competencies needed in modern healthcare. In PBL students collaboratively construct knowledge to explain and solve problems related to real-life situations. In such knowledge construction, dealing with conflicting ideas and knowledge has the potential to enhance student learning while also developing teamwork and critical thinking, skills that are central to multi-professional healthcare teams. The studies that make up the present doctoral thesis explored how students deal with conflicts on knowledge and how they are facilitated to handle such conflicts in PBL tutorial discussions. In addition, the thesis focuses on how to help students learn teamwork skills and critical thinking. Study I examined how to teach teamwork skills to first-year medical students and how to motivate them to learn these skills. The teamwork skills focused on verbal communication in PBL tutorial sessions and in healthcare teams. Feedback on the teamwork skills module from three consecutive classes of first-year students was analysed. Students motivation to learn teamwork skills increased significantly when the introduction to the topic was improved by more clearly pointing out the clinical relevance of such skills. Study II focused on how conflicts on knowledge were dealt with in PBL tutorial group discussions. Four video-recorded tutorial sessions including 33 first-year medical and dental students were analysed. Conflicts on knowledge were found to be relatively rare and generally fairly brief. This was due to a lack of collaborative and thorough argumentation, as well as a lack of questions that would elicit elaboration on the issues. Study III examined tutor facilitation during tutorial discussions, and particularly how the facilitation helped students to collaboratively resolve conflicts on knowledge. The study focused on the tutors in the same video-recorded tutorial sessions as in Study II. The tutors typically intervened by confirming what the students had said or by giving explanations, but they rarely asked questions that would stimulate elaboration on knowledge. During conflicts on knowledge the tutors gave more explanations, but did little to encourage the students to elaborate on conflicting ideas. Study IV focused on medical students conceptions of critical thinking in preclinical PBL. The aim was to find out how the students defined critical thinking, how they perceived it in preclinical PBL and what they expected it to be in clinical practice. The students typically understood critical thinking as judging the reliability of sources of information. Few students understood critical thinking to mean reflecting on their own thinking or viewing things from different perspectives. Students conceptions of critical thinking may have prevented them from seeing the connection between critical thinking in preclinical PBL and critical thinking in clinical practice. The present thesis sheds light on the processes of collaborative knowledge construction related to dealing with conflicting knowledge and ideas in PBL tutorial discussions. The results confirmed prior research findings, which have shown that students rarely deal with conflicting ideas and knowledge, and they point to the central role of the tutor in facilitating students to address these matters in tutorial discussions. The findings also revealed that engaging in deep inquiry during conflicts on knowledge was challenging for both students and tutors. The results further underlined the importance of clearly pointing out to students how they will benefit from the skills learned in preclinical PBL, such as teamwork and critical thinking, in their future professions. Based on these findings, new ideas for improving learning from conflicting ideas in small-group discussions are introduced. Future studies are encouraged to continue exploring the many exciting avenues opened by the present doctoral thesis.
  • Neittaanmäki-Perttu, Noora (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    ABSTRACT Background and purpose: As the skin cancer burden continues to increase, there is an urgent need for novel methods for the early detection of skin cancers, and for new cost-effective treatments. The hyperspectral imaging system (HIS) is a novel technique which offers the dual advantages of allowing the imaging of large skin areas rapidly and non-invasively. Daylight photodynamic therapy (DL-PDT), with the advantages of excellent tolerability and convenience, is an attaractive therapy for actinic keratoses (AK) and field cancerization.This thesis aimed to enable early and effective treatment of common premalignancies of photo-damaged skin.The first purpose of this thesis was to evaluate the feasibility of HIS in the detection of field cancerized skin and in the detection of ill-defined borders of lentigo maligna (LM) and lentigo maligna melanoma (LMM). In addition, this thesis aimed to further develop the treatment of field cancerized skin with photodynamic therapy using a novel photosensitizer in combination with daylight (DL-PDT), and to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of DL-PDT. Methods: This thesis included four non-sponsored prospective clinical studies. The novel prototype HIS, used in studies I-II, was developed for the study at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. The technique enabled in vivo imaging of the skin prior to surgical procedures and produced abundance maps of the affected skin areas. The results were verified by histopathology. Study III was randomized double-blinded intra-individual split-face trial comparing novel photosensitizer formulation, 5-aminolaevulinate nanoemulsion (BF-200 ALA) with methyl-5-aminolaevulinate (MAL) in DL-PDT of AKs. In addition to blinded clinical and histological treatment efficacy, tolerability of the treatment was assessed. Study IV evaluated the cost-effectiveness of MAL-DL-PDT compared to conventional MAL-LED-PDT. Results: In studies I-II HIS showed its feasibility in both the detection of subclinical borders of ill-defined lentigo malignas (LM) and lentigo maligna melanomas (LMM), and in the detection of early subclinical actinic keratoses (AK). In study I HIS accurately detected 20 of 23 (87%) of the LM/LMM borders as confirmed by histology. HIS was useful i.e. detected the lesion borders more accurately than a clinician using Wood s light in 11 of 23 (47.8%) cases. Six re-excisions could have been avoided with HIS. In 3/23 cases (13%) HIS was not in concordance with the histopathology, which in two cases HIS showed lesion extension which was not verified histologically (wrong positive) and in one case HIS missed the subclinical extension (wrong negative). In study II with 12 patients and 52 clinical AKs, HIS accurately detected all the clinical lesions in addition to numerous areas of subclinical damage. HIS findings matched the histopathological findings in all 33 biopsied areas (AK, n=28, photo-damaged skin, n=5), revealing 16 subclinical lesions of which 10 were not detected by fluorescence diagnosis. In study III (13 patients, 177 lesions) in a per patient (half-face) analysis BF-200 ALA cleared thin AKs more effectively than did MAL (p=0.027). In per lesion analysis the complete clearance rates were 84.5% for BF-200 ALA, and 74.2% for MAL (p=ns). The area response rates, including also the new appeared lesions (i.e.preventive effect), were 79.8% for BF-200 ALA and 65.6% for MAL, p=0.044. Histologically, DL-PDT effectively cleared all the signs of dysplasia in 61.5% lesions treated with BF-200 ALA and in 38.5% with MAL (p=ns). The mean decrease in p53 expression was 54.4% with BF-200 ALA, 34 % with MAL (p=ns). DL-treatment was nearly painless with both photosensitizers. BF-200 ALA and MAL DL-treatments were similarly tolerated as regards to adverse reactions. In study IV 70 patients (210 target lesions) randomized to receive DL-PDT or LED-PDT with MAL, at six months the patient complete response rates were 15 of 35 (42.9%) and 24 of 35 (68.6%), (p=0.030) and lesion clearance rates were 72.4% and 89.2%, respectively (p=0.0025). DL-PDT required significantly less time at the clinic (p less than 0.0001) and could be used with lower total costs ( 132) compared to conventional LED-PDT ( 170), p=0.022. However, in terms of cost-effectiveness MAL-DL-PDT was found to give less value for money compared to MAL-LED-PDT. The incrementl cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) showed the monetary gain of 147 per unit of effectiveness lost. Thus, the use of DL-PDT instead of LED-PDT would decrease the healing probability but only low incremental cost savings would be achieved. The costs per complete responder were 308 for MAL DL-PDT and 248 for MAL LED-PDT, p= 0.004. Conclusions: The more accurate pre-surgical assessment of the subclinical borders of LM and LMM with HIS could lead to fewer re-excixions, which furthermore could reduce the burden to both patients and clinics. In addition, the early non-invasive detection of skin field cancerization could enhance the treatment process by revealing the as yet subclinical areas in need of treatment, and could possibly aid the monitoring of treatment efficacy. Even though HIS was found to be useful in these two indications, more studies are warranted to qualify the optimal mathematical algorithms for diagnostic use.The use of novel a photosensitizer formulation, BF-200 ALA, in DL-PDT could lead in lower costs and increase the efficacy. Interestingly, the efficacy of DL-PDT with BF-200 ALA was approaching the efficacy achieved with conventional LED-PDT. As field cancerized skin should be treated as a chronic disease requiring repeated treatments, DL-PDT offers a painless and convenient option for this purpose. However, DL-PDT with MAL provided less value for money compared to conventional MAL-PDT. The cost-effectiveness of BF-200 ALA in DL-PDT for AKs needs further studies.
  • Laakasuo, Michael (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    In our previous studies it has been found that a phenomenon labeled tilting is a form of moral anger. When players are in tilt they make a series of bad decisions, chase their losses and express anger by cursing their opponents. In the context of tilting, the players also report episodes of memory loss. Additionally, we also developed a scale that measures the level of a player's poker experience, and we found evidence to suggest that poker experience is associated with mature self-reflection skills. We also found that the likelihood of a poker player making the correct decision in poker decision making tasks increased as a function of self-reflection and poker experience. In Study 1 I found evidence supporting the hypothesis that the regulation of emotions is an important part of the skill set of poker players. Specifically, if poker players have read a story about betrayal where they are asked to take the position of the victim before they make their decisions in poker decision making tasks, they make mathematically worse decisions than those participants who have only read a control story. The effect was moderated by the presence of a pair of moving eyes placed on the screen, which were used as proxy for the social environment. The results support the hypothesis that tilting is related to moral anger, or at least some form of anger that seems consistent with the events taking place in the social context. In Study 2, I assessed the associations between the HEXACO personality inventory -revised and poker experience. I obtained evidence supporting the notion that emotional stability is positively associated with accumulated poker experience. In Study 3 I showed that poker experience does not seem to be correlated with emotional intelligence, selfishness, self-control problems, social alienation or lowered levels of life satisfaction. I also note that these measures correlate with instruments measuring problem gambling. However, I observed either no correlations, or correlations hinting towards health benefits, between these instruments and poker experience. I concluded that problem gambling instruments need further development Taken together our results indicate that there are numerous benefits in approaching the field of gambling studies from a non-clinical angle.
  • Kalu, Emmanuel Okwara (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    More than half of those newly infected with HIV/AIDS are between the ages of 15 and 24 (UNICEF, UNAIDS and WHO 2002). The disease s challenge is not limited to students already diagnosed with the disease, but also to students in limbo (students who do not know their status), because about 50% of those living with HIV do not know their status (UNAIDS 2012). However, voluntary HIV screening is unpopular, probably due to fear and gross misconceptions. Based on the presumption that besides its health and educational impacts, the disease also influences the productivity and future goals of students, this study investigated and compared the conceptions of HIV-positive university students in Finland and Nigeria in search of not only the negative, but also the positive meanings of living with the disease, with the aim of bettering HIV/AIDS understandings. The study is primarily approached through phenomenography. Seven individuals participated in the study (three Finns and four Nigerians) through in-depth and e-mail interviews. The outcomes are described and compared under 7 main categories, 26 sub-categories and 300 themes based on the similarities and qualitative differences in the participants conceptions. To further illustrate the outcomes, Concept Maps were used at the end of each main category to separately show the Finnish and Nigerian participants responses within each category. In addition, tables of comparison were used in Appendixes one to seven to compare the Finnish and Nigerian participants conceptions thematically and also in relation to the results of earlier studies. Subsequently, propositions in text format were used in Appendix eight to present the concept map outcomes in a different light. The findings reveal that although the negative effects are much more noticeable, the positive impacts are increasing. They add to refuting what we already know about living with the disease, especially in the 1980s and 1990s. In view of the many benefits of living with HIV, as illuminated by this study, the current situation is unlike the past, as today living with HIV does more good than harm especially in terms of motivating positive and healthful living. The comparison of the two groups reveals no wide gap between the Finnish and Nigerian participants conceptions; nevertheless, while the Finnish participants are slightly better informed about HIV/AIDS, their Nigerian counterparts are more open and positive about their conditions. Due to the nature of its findings, the implications of this study are many; the most outstanding of which is that it may positively and healthfully transform readers. By bringing into the spotlight the unpopular positive sides of living with HIV (not AIDS), PLWHA could further be strengthened to cope with the disease, and the fears of students in limbo due to misconceptions could be reduced, which may motivate them to voluntarily participate in HIV screening. Furthermore, the study may contribute to enabling HIV/AIDS organisations to better tailor their services towards meeting the needs of their subjects. School authorities could equally be motivated to make school environments more HIV/AIDS friendly. The Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and similar ministries in other countries may also find in these outcomes reasons to push for changes in HIV/AIDS policies. Keywords: HIV/AIDS, PLWHA, students, education, health, healthful living
  • Hyytinen, Heidi (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    The central purpose of this doctoral thesis has been to deepen our understanding of the nature of critical thinking by combining theoretical, empirical and methodological perspectives. The concept of critical thinking has a central role both in research on the philosophy of education and in empirical research on learning and teaching in higher education. Although it is true that the philosophical and empirical analyses of critical thinking and knowledge differ fundamentally, the present thesis argues that there are shared concerns between these two scholarly traditions. The thesis consists of four studies, each of which approached this aim from different viewpoints. The methods involved both a philosophical approach and an empirical multi-method approach. The dialogue between the empirical and theoretical analyses offers new insights into conceptualising critical thinking and its prerequisites and extends our understanding of variations in critical thinking. Based on the theoretical findings of these studies, I argue that normative elements (how things ought to be) and descriptive elements (how things are) are fundamentally intertwined in the research on critical thinking. Therefore, educational research on critical thinking requires both philosophical and empirical approaches and also dialogue between these two approaches. The theoretical part of the doctoral thesis further demonstrates how philosophical research can contribute to the normative elements of the prevailing empirically-based theorisation of critical thinking, particularly by revealing some conceptual inconsistencies within this framework. The research further introduces the notion of fallibilism (human knowledge is uncertain) as a way out. Epistemological fallibilism fits the presumption of critical thinking better than relativism from the theoretical and pedagogical points of view. The empirical results revealed variation in (a) students skills and dispositions to think critically, (b) students ability to adapt their thinking and performance flexibility, (c) the nature of knowledge students consider to be relevant, (d) the knowledge that students use in problem-solving situations, as well as (e) the way students process that knowledge. Based on these variations two profiles were identified: (1) superficial processing or (2) thorough processing. Superficial processing students reproduced information in the problem-solving situation. These students did not analyse, interpret, evaluate or synthesise knowledge, and their reasoning was very poor. They palmed off justification for knowing on authorities and testimonies. In contrast to previous research, the results show that these students did not share the belief that knowledge is absolutely certain or unquestionable. Nor did these students share the view that beliefs accurately represent or correspond to reality. These students emphasised the uncertain nature of knowledge. The thorough processing students, by contrast, evaluated the quality of the information and considered its premises, as well as the implications of different conclusions. They weighed different options, analysed connections between claims, connected related ideas and gave mainly well-reasoned explanations and convincing arguments. The findings also show that the thorough processing students believed knowledge to be tentative and fallible. However, these students did not argue that all knowledge is constructed by human beings nor did they believe that all interpretations, theories and beliefs are equally right. They thus avoided slipping into relativism. The results revealed that both deeply superficial and thorough processing thinking entails problems if it is connected to an inability to adjust thinking or actions to the demands of the task. This thesis also identified several methodological challenges in assessing critical thinking. The results show that different performance-based critical thinking tests could give completely opposite pictures of a student s abilities. The results further indicated that the group-level analyses could overrun the rich variations in test performance that occurred among individual students. Additionally, the thesis reminds us that the theoretical framework has a great influence on how data are analysed and interpreted. Finally, the thesis argues that one assessment or analysis method is not enough to evaluate the complex cognitive processes of critical thinking. Instead of a sole focus on empirical or theoretical elements, more communication between the theoretical, empirical and methodological perspectives is required to deepen the understanding of critical thinking among students of higher education. Keywords: critical thinking, performance assessment, epistemology, fallibilism, relativism
  • Repo, Laura (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    Bullying and its prevention in early childhood education The purpose of this research was to study the phenomenon of bullying in the preschool environment in order to expand understanding of the phenomenon and to be able to conduct effective anti-bullying practices. Thus, the aims of this research were to study the prevalence and forms of bullying and to find what kind of organizational and pedagogical practices used in preschools were related to bullying behavior and the prevention of bullying. The study also interprets qualitative research data, disclosing what meanings children give to the bullying phenomenon. Two kinds of data were collected for the study: a qualitative data from interviews of children, preschool teachers and practical nurses and parents (N = 114) and data from a survey of early education professionals (N = 771). The results of this study indicate that systematic bullying does occur in preschool groups. The interviews showed that young children were able to describe the phenomenon, and its content varied only slightly from adults speech on the topic. Results showed that 12.6% of preschool children were involved in bullying in one way or another. The most common form of bullying was exclusion from peer relationships. The findings also showed that bullying is a group phenomenon already in preschool groups. However, children with special educational needs were significantly more often involved in bullying situations than children without special educational needs. Thus, the bullying prevention programs developed in early childhood educational environments should be applied both with individual children and at child group level. A common way to intervene in bullying situations was excluding the child from the group. However, in those groups that exclusion was used as an intervention to bullying, respondents reported that they were unable to stop bullying behavior. In addition, in those groups where different pedagogical solutions were tested and evaluated often, less bullying occurred than in those groups that did not test and evaluate their practices. As a conclusion to this study, in order to prevent bullying in preschool environments, even more attention should be paid to strengthen the child group cohesion and to the pedagogical solutions when encountering misbehaving children. A child has a right to an appropriate education where he/she can learn alternative and socially acceptable ways to behave in relations with others. Key words: bullying, early childhood education, peer victimization, special educational needs, bullying prevention, discipline, bystander
  • Chua, Joey (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    This qualitative study examined the culture-specific forms of dance talent development. Due to the scant and uneven literature in the field of dance talent development, this study firstly aimed at exploring the various theories and research methodologies underpinning current dance talent development literature. The other aims were to better understand how various catalysts and processes enhanced dancers development at different stages and helped guide students in actualizing their potential. Hence, mapping the Finnish and Singaporean dancers and dance students talent trajectories later became the focus of this study. This dissertation consists of three sections or (dance) Acts , which are based on three sole-authored publications. Act I introduces the compilation and synthesis of empirically based articles published between 2000 2012 that dealt with the critical issues of developing dance talents across the lifespan of children, adolescents, and adults. Data from 37 accepted studies were abstracted into evidence tables relating to: (a) abilities and traits, (b) creativity, (c) motivation, and (d) social support. Findings and recommendations about future research were useful in clarifying the ontological, epis- temological, and methodological lenses adopted in subsequent studies in this dissertation. In particular, definition of dance talents should be addressed using talent development theories, and more retrospective research about successful dancers and more prospective longitudinal research about talented students should be conducted. Act II presents, via retrospective interviews, the key factors that impacted the talent development of the award-winning Singaporean (n = 4) and Finnish (n = 4) ballet and contemporary dancers. Integral to all the eight dancers success were a high level of abilities, developed psychosocial skills, supportive and knowledgeable people, optimal learning opportunities, and chance. Four dancers stories titled Nonconformist, Exemplary Dancer, Go-Getter, and Trailblazer revolving around the themes and developmental stages illustrate the markedly different pathways for achiev- ing success. The talent-development mega-model framed the discussions in Acts I and II. The perspectives of students (n = 4), parents (n = 2), teachers (n = 6), and a sibling were analyzed in Act III in order to clarify how well significant individuals have supported the exceptionally talented dance students across the different stages of their talent development. The four exceptionally talented students were enrolled in their national dance institutions the Finnish National Opera Ballet School and the Singapore Dance Theatre. Common themes that emerged from this prospective, two-year study were being there, sharing, and knowing that illustrated the types of support instrumental, emotional, and informational from families, peers, and teachers that contributed to the students development. A result of this dissertation is the creation of a conceptual framework of dance talent develop- ment that can be useful for future research. The framework describes abilities, motivational beliefs, supportive and knowledgeable people, learning opportunities, and social skills that are crucial for dance talent development across four stages budding, blossoming, maturing, and seasoned.  The author has already utilized this framework in a longitudinal study involving male dance students. While this model emphasizes talent development in dance, it is hoped that this model is applicable in other domains.
  • Saad, Elyana (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    The relationship between mental representations based on external visual percepts (i.e., information held in short-term memory or via mental imagery) and the encoding of visual input remains unsettled. What stimulates this debate is the share of overlapping neural resources between visual short-term memory (VSTM), mental imagery and visual perception in the realm of the early visual cortex (EVC). This overlap raises a number of questions: how do the internal memory and imagery representations affect the perception of incoming visual information? What happens to imagery and VSTM abilities when cognitive resources need to be shared with the encoding of visual input? In short: how do visual memory/imagery and visual perception interact? This work addressed these questions by the use of behavioral paradigms coupled with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) in situations where the encoding of the visual percept (measured via the tilt after effect (TAE) magnitude) happens either simultaneously or subsequently to holding information in VSTM/imagery. Therefore, when VSTM and the encoding of external input occurred concurrently, VSTM maintenance was found to inhibit visual encoding, reflected as a reduction of the TAE. Using TMS, it was shown that this inhibition takes place at the level of EVC. This reduction was found when the VSTM content matched the visual input, and when they were incongruent. However, when the encoding of external input occurred after VSTM maintenance phase had ended, VSTM maintenance was found to facilitate the former when the VSTM content matched the visual input. The subjective strength and the contrast of VSTM and mental imagery content (as reported by participants) affect visual detection of a briefly presented masked target. The reported visual contrast was positively associated with reporting target presence for both VSTM and mental imagery, in other words, inducing a more liberal bias. However, a differential effect was found for the subjective strength of the representations. Whereas the subjective VSTM strength was positively associated with the visual detection of the target, the opposite effect was observed for imagery. Finally, TMS applied at the EVC revealed a partial dissociation in the neural basis of VSTM and mental imagery by inducing delayed responses for the former selectively. Thus, while VSTM and mental imagery share neural resources, their neural mechanisms are partly dissociable at the level of early visual cortex.
  • Törnroos, Maria (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    The role of individual differences in perceptions of stress has long been recognized. Despite this, the models that are used to measure stress at the workplace the job strain model and the effort-reward imbalance model were developed to assess strenuous work characteristics and their health effects, regardless of the individual. Because work characteristics are usually measured using self-reports the measures cannot be completely objective. The present study examined the susceptibility of the job strain model and the effort-reward imbalance model to Five-Factor personality traits and cynicism. In addition, this study tested the longitudinal measurement invariance of the effort-reward imbalance scales. This study was part of the ongoing prospective, population-based Young Finns study. The measurements for the present study were carried out in 2001, 2007, and 2012. Five-Factor personality traits were assessed with a questionnaire on the Five-Factor model, and cynicism was assessed with a scale derived from the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory. Work characteristics were measured with questionnaires on the job strain model and the effort-reward imbalance model. The results showed that high neuroticism was associated with higher job strain and higher effort-reward imbalance and that high agreeableness was associated with lower job strain and lower effort-reward imbalance. High extraversion, high openness, and high conscientiousness were associated with lower job strain. Furthermore, high conscientiousness was related to lower effort-reward imbalance only in men. High job strain prospectively predicted higher cynicism six years later. The effort-reward imbalance scales achieved strict longitudinal measurement invariance and showed adequate criterion validity. Although developed to measure the structural work environment, the job strain model and the effort-reward imbalance model seem to be susceptible to Five-Factor personality traits especially to neuroticism and agreeableness. In addition, high job strain seems to have far reaching consequences on cynical attitudes. Furthermore, the results show that scores on effort-reward imbalance from different time points can reliably be compared with each other. This study shows that organizations and occupational health services should apply a more person-oriented approach to increasing wellbeing at work.
  • Sahlstedt, Heli (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    The aim of this study is to introduce how basic education works in Finland with the new comprehensive school form, in which all pupils from grades 1 9 study in the same school building. The school is specially designed and constructed for this purpose. The view point of this research is school pedagogy. This study describes the development of normal institutional school guidance towards the newest school form with a focus on the vertical and coherence development in the Finnish school system. The study examines experiences of unified comprehensive school practice from the view point of teachers, pupils and guardians. It investigates the diverse diversity of opinions between teachers, pupils and guardians and what things should be considered in the future when new schools like this are built. The research involved a case study of a new unified comprehensive school built in a capital region of Finland in 2006. The research data were collected in five different phases between 2005 and 2010. The data consist of answers from 275 guardians, 871 pupils and 64 teachers. The study used mixed methods, and the data were collected with Quest-MM according to closed and open questions. The qualitative data were analysed with the content analysis. The quantitative material was analysed by using the Kruskall-Wallis test and cross tables. According to the results, the teachers, pupils and guardians showed significant statistical differences in their opinions about the school. Altogether 83 % of the guardians and 71 % of pupils were satisfied with the unified comprehensive school. In fact, 70 % of the guardians and 60 % of the pupils wanted to see the construction of more unified comprehensive schools. The guardians focused on the safety of their own child in the school. They appreciated that in the new school form, their child did not have to change schools between grades 6 and 7, a transition that the parents usually found to be undesirable. The students tended to highlight the informal elements, such as friendship, the school environment and school rules; they also showed marked age-related differences in their views. The teens thought that the unified comprehensive school was suited mainly for the younger primary school pupils. The teachers were the most critical of the new school form; 53 % of them were satisfied with it, and only 29 % wanted to see more of them. The teachers considered the matter primarily from the point of view of their own work. They thought the unified comprehensive school was a rich working environment, but disliked it as an organization. According to the teachers, the unified comprehensive schools are built too large to function effectively. The action of a large school organization must be divided, so that the risk of the parts is to divide such action too much. Horizontal coherence did not work. Also, the guardians, like the teachers were skeptical of the number of pupils in the unified comprehensive school. According the guardians, large size of the school units reduced the safety of the pupils. The result show that one can see the need to reduce the size of the unified comprehensive school for the benefit of the pupils and teachers. Additionally, school ergonomics, school culture and pedagogy also deserve careful consideration. The school must to realise that pupils studying between the ages of 6 and 16 have different needs. The unified comprehensive school seems to require more resources or help from outside of the school in establishing their pedagogy and school culture from the beginning. ________________________________________ Keywords: basic education, comprehensive school, unified comprehensive school, school pedagogy
  • Niemelä, Reko (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    Doctoral dissertation Inclusionary practices in a Finnish pre-primary school context has been made in the context of the five-year EU project Includ-Ed (2006- 2011), which has 14 European universities as partners. The aim of the research was to find out the most supportive practices and the most unsupportive practices from a perspective of inclusion experienced by agents (persons). Agents are children, parents, teachers and administration and organisation members who were interviewed by communicative open interview. There were a total of 54 interviews. Inclusion is examined through perspectives of transformation and critical communication. Critical communicative methodology assumes that people can interpret their own behaviour and modify their actions based on that. To be able to analyse interviews, theory-based categories were used. After this, clusters were created using open categorisation. Of the results, when answering types are separated, 212 quotations were from professionals (teachers, administrators, members of organisations) whilst 88 quotations were from family and children. Professionals did make their voices heard more often than parents and children. Professionals gave over four times more transformative quotations than parents/children. Parents/children gave slightly more exclusionary quotations than professionals. In the light of research findings, parents and children are still unable to make their voices heard as well as they could, and parents attitude and preconceptions are unsupportive of inclusion. Lack of resources was the most unsupportive practice to inclusion according to the professionals. For all the agents, the most supportive practice to inclusion was co-operation. Keywords: inclusion, educational science, critical communicative methodology, content analysis, agents, ATLAS.ti
  • Klenberg, Liisa (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    Executive functions (EFs) are essential for coordination and controlling of other cognitive functions and behavior. EFs are involved in all purposeful activity, and for children, they are important for learning and functioning in school environments. Difficulties in EFs are common in school-age children with developmental disabilities, such as attention deficit disorder (ADHD). This thesis consists of three studies addressing EFs in school-age children. The first study employed neuropsychological tests from the Developmental Neuropsychological Assessment NEPSY to examine age-related differences in EFs in a sample of 400 children. The second study investigated the methodological factors related to EF measures in a sample of 340 children using response inhibition tasks from the NEPSY-II, the second edition of the Developmental Neuropsychological Assessment. The third study aimed at constructing a new instrument, the Attention and Executive Function Rating Inventory ATTEX, for the clinical assessment of EFs and verifying the psychometric properties of the rating scale in a sample of 916 children. Age-related improvement in EF task performance continued throughout the school-age period, proceeding from inhibition to attention control, and further to fluency of actions. A closer examination of response inhibition showed developmental variation even within this EF domain. The developmental change was apparent at school age, but different outcome measures and the cognitive requirements of tasks had an effect on how the development of response inhibition was depicted. In the assessment of everyday EF behaviors, the ATTEX rating scale demonstrated high internal consistency reliability and good criterion and discriminant validity for ADHD. The EF profiles were different for the ADHD subtypes, and children with predominantly inattentive symptoms showed more wide-ranging difficulties in EFs than children with combined symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity. Carefully examined, reliable, and valid measures are essential for both the scientific research and clinical assessment of EFs. Factors related to the measures, e.g., materials, stimuli, and the selected outcome measure, and the cognitive processes involved in tasks have effect on how development of EFs is depicted. Close examination of these factors can help to attain a more consisted account on EF development. In the clinical assessment of EF difficulties, the measures need to be sensitive to the actual difficulties that arise in every-day situations. These are best assessed with standardized rating scales. The new rating scale presented in this thesis proved to be a suitable measure both for screening and examining the detailed EF profiles of children in school situations.
  • Karhula, Kati (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    Health care personnel often have irregular working hours and stressful work characteristics, which may challenge employees possibilities to sleep and recover sufficiently. The aim of this study was to examine the association of stressful work characteristics, measured as job strain, with sleep and psychophysiological recovery in shift working health care professionals. As part of the Finnish Public Sector Study, 95 participants were recruited from hospital wards that belonged to the top (high job strain, HJS, n=42) or bottom quartiles on job strain (low job strain, LJS, n=53) as determined by the average job strain score among the employees of the ward. These participants experienced job strain at least as high (HJS group) or as low (LJS group) as the average on their ward. Measurements included a Trier Social Stress Test (TSST), and 3-week field measures of sleep-wake rhythm with sleep diary and actigraphy. The 3-week rosters included three pre-selected, circadian rhythm and recovery controlled measurement days, one morning shift, one night shift and a day off, and the following measurements: ratings of sleepiness (Karolinska Sleepiness Scale), Psychomotor Vigilance Test (PVT), 24h heart rate variability (HRV) measurements and saliva samples of stress biomarkers (cortisol and alpha-amylase). The rosters of the HJS group included more single days off and quick returns than the rosters of the LJS group. Severe sleepiness (KSS score of ≥7) was more common in the HJS group in quick returns. The HJS group reported poorer recovery from all work shifts and after morning shifts than the LJS group. High job strain was not associated with extended working hours. The HJS group had more difficulties in initiating sleep after evening shifts, more often reduced sleep efficiency before morning shifts, and took fewer and shorter naps before the first night shift than the LJS group. Additionally, the HJS group had more often lapses in the PVT during night shifts. Insufficient sleep (31%) and sleep complaints (often 68%) were common in shift workers regardless of the job strain group. The TSST resulted in, on average, a 2.27-fold increase in cortisol concentration in the HJS group and a 1.48-fold increase in the LJS group (non-significant group difference). The HJS group also had higher salivary alpha-amylase levels 30 minutes after awakening in the morning shift. Apart from that, the salivary cortisol and alpha-amylase levels, profiles and total secretion showed no statistically significant stress group differences. Heart rate and HRV, before and during sleep, were similar in both job strain groups. Shift work contributed to impaired sleep in both the high and low job strain groups, although the sleep impairments were more pronounced in the HJS group. Associations between job strain and psychophysiological stress-related reactions and recovery were modest. Intervention studies are needed to determine whether increasing recovery time by reducing the number of quick returns and single days off would also reduce job strain and improve sleep quality among shift workers. Emphasising the importance of sufficient sleep might promote shift workers´ recovery and well-being.
  • Oksanen-Lyytikäinen, Johanna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    The idea of this research was to articulate the meanings of costume and costume design through three contemporary operas Helsinkiin 2005, Le Saxophone 2011 ja Kohtaus kadulla 2013 process descriptions. The aim of this study was to research the meaning of costume and costume design in different opera contexts from the point of view of the costume design-er, but also from the viewpoint of the composer, stage director, performers and the audience. These meanings are considered in the entirety of the above-mentioned operas. Besides will be asked, how do production, performing context and the quality of the collaboration and interaction influence to the artistic pro-cesses from the viewpoint of costume design. As the basis of the multiple case study there was fenomenographic and semi-otic approach to the opera phenomena and producing and interpreting the mean-ings of the costume. The meanings of the costume were to be introduced by adapting methods of craft science, practice-led and artistic research. As main research material was used artists descriptions of their processes, diaries, notes and visual documents like sketches and photographs of the productions. Also material collected by interviewing and inquiry methods was used. As the research result I pronounce the context-based meaning of the costume. The role and meaning of the costume changes according to which phase of the process and from whose viewpoint it is considered. The meaning of the costume is different to different artists or producers and it changes during the processes. To the director costuming can give, besides visual stage picture, tools to create action with, and to the performer it for example will function as a help to create the character and as a protection during performances. To the audience costume tells of the backgrounds or the nature of the characters or something from the stories behind the artwork. When compared, the sketches produced during the artistic processes and the photographs taken from the stages, it was clearly to be seen that the costume sketches had their impact to the stage picture. Through the sketches of the com-poser it was to be noticed that the creative processes in different arts to some extent remind each other. The documentation and analyzing documents of the artistic processes opens up a great chance to create a picture of what happens during art making.
  • Joensuu, Matti (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    Job control has been a key concept in research on the psychosocial work environment and employee health for decades. A general hypothesis is that the more job control employees have, the lower their risk of stress-related diseases. However, the evidence to date has been inconclusive. The two components of job control, skill discretion and decision authority, may be differentially associated with health, which is a possible explanation for previous mixed findings. Therefore, this study examined the longitudinal associations of job control and its components separately, along with mental health and incident cardiovascular disease. The samples used were the Still Working study (N=13 868), the Finnish Public Sector Study (N=60 202) and the Individual-Participant Data Meta-analysis in the Working Populations consortium (N=197 473). Survey responses to job control scales were linked to information on sickness absences and hospitalizations due to psychiatric disorders and hospitalizations and mortality from cardiovascular diseases derived from national registers for initially healthy employees. The follow-up period ranged from one year for sickness absence to 20 years for mortality. The data were analyzed using Cox proportional hazard models, probit regression and random-effects meta-analysis. Employees from hospital wards were linked to information on hospital ward overcrowding in an instrumental variable regression analysis of an external measure for job control. Skill discretion and decision authority showed different, to some extent opposite and subgroup specific associations with mental and cardiovascular health. In several analyses a high decision authority was associated with an increased risk of future mental or cardiovascular ill health. In the Still Working cohort study, the adjusted hazard ratio for cardiovascular mortality was 1.47 (95% confidence interval, CI, 1.12, 1.93) for high decision authority and 1.01 (95% CI 0.76, 1.34) for high skill discretion. Job control as a combined construct was not associated with incident cardiovascular disease in the meta-analysis of prospective studies when adjusted for age, sex and socio-economic status (hazard ratio 0.95, 95% CI 0.75-1.19 for highest quartile vs. lowest quartile). In the instrumental variable regression hospital ward overcrowding did not function as an external indicator for job control. Job control appears to be an equivocal concept in terms of health risk as its components were differently associated with health outcomes. These findings suggest that decision authority and skill discretion need to be separated and different work contexts should be differentiated in studies on job control, mental health and cardiovascular diseases.
  • Virtala, Paula (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    Infants already demonstrate readiness for music processing. Although culture-specific music-processing skills are acquired through exposure to music, even in the absence of formal training, the processing of music sounds is known to be facilitated by music training from early on. Major vs. minor and consonance vs. dissonance categorisations have a central role in Western tonal music and are highly meaningful for Western listeners. However, their neural basis and its development have not been extensively studied. The present thesis examined the preattentive processing of Western music chord categorisations from infancy to adulthood by measuring event-related potentials (ERPs) of the electroencephalogram (EEG), using a mismatch negativity (MMN) paradigm. The effect of music expertise on their processing was studied in school-aged children and adults. In the MMN paradigm, minor chords, inverted major chords, and highly dissonant chords were presented infrequently as deviant sounds in the context of root form major chords. Since all chords were transposed to several frequency levels, the deviant chords introduced no new frequencies to the paradigm, and thus an MMN caused by simple physical deviance was prevented. The results demonstrate the facilitating effects of music expertise on Western music chord discrimination neurally in adults and school-aged children, and behaviourally in adults. Sensitivity to Western music chord categorisations, particularly consonance vs. dissonance, was evident already at birth. While there was no evidence of major vs. minor discrimination as indicated by MMN elicitation in school-aged children without music training, there was tentative evidence of it in newborn infants and non-musician adults. Only musician adults demonstrated sensitivity to root vs. inverted chords, indicating that the facilitating effect of music expertise on the neural processing of the chords grows with age and years of practice. The present thesis suggests that, building on early auditory skills, some implicit knowledge of Western music chord categorisations is acquired via exposure to music during development, without formal training. However, consistent neural representations of complex chord categories may require extensive amounts of formal music training.
  • Mononen, Riikka (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    The purpose of this thesis was to investigate the effectiveness of early mathematics interventions for young children with low performance in mathematics. Previous research has indicated that early mathematics skills are a strong predictor of later mathematics performance. The goal of early mathematics support by means of interventions is to improve mathematics performance, and consequently, to diminish the possibility of mathematics learning disability emerging later on. This thesis sought to complement and extend previous research in the field of early mathematics interventions, by reviewing early mathematics interventions, and investigating the effectiveness of two early mathematics intervention programmes. Study I reviewed mathematics interventions (N = 19) aimed at 4–7-year-old children with low performance in mathematics. For each intervention, effect sizes were calculated for mathematics outcome measures, and the pedagogical implementation was described. The effectiveness of the RightStart Mathematics (RS) (Cotter, 2001) instruction was investigated in Studies II and III. In Study II, the instruction was provided for Finnish kindergartners (RS group: n = 38, comparison group: n = 32) in general education classrooms, with focus on low-performing children. In Study III, the RS instruction was provided in special education classrooms for children with a specific language impairment (SLI group: n = 9, comparison group: n = 32). In Study IV, a mathematics intervention programme Improving Mathematics Skills in the Second Grade (IMS-2) (Mononen & Aunio, 2012) was developed, and its effectiveness for second graders performing low in mathematics was examined (IMS-2 group: n = 11, low-performing controls: n = 13 and typically performing controls: n = 64). In Studies II-IV, quantitative methods were used for analysing the interventions’ effects. According to the results of the review, in the majority of the interventions, the mathematics skills of the participating children improved more than the skills of the children in control groups, with effect sizes varying from small to large. Progress in mathematics learning was evident when instruction included one or more of the following instructional features: explicit instruction, peer-assisted instruction, applying a concrete-representational-abstract sequence, computer assisted instruction, or games. Study II showed that the RS instruction was as effective as the typical Finnish kindergarten mathematics instruction. The counting skills of the initially low-performing children improved to the level of their typically performing peers. Follow-up in the first grade revealed performance differences between the initially low- and typically performing children, highlighting the importance of continuously monitoring progress, and providing intensified support. In Study III, children with a SLI receiving RS instruction improved their counting skills to the level of their peers. In the first grade follow-up, the children with SLI performed similarly to their peers in addition and subtraction skills (accuracy) and multi-digit number comparison. In Study IV, the mathematics skills of the second graders participating in the IMS-2 intervention did not improve more than the skills of the children in control groups. However, the study provided valuable information about the functionality of the IMS-2 programme’s intensity and content. To conclude, in general, the results indicate that rather than waiting for children to fail, mathematics interventions can be used successfully to promote the early mathematics skills of children with low performance in mathematics, already before the onset of formal schooling and in the early grades. Therefore, identifying low performance in mathematics and providing sufficient support should be emphasised already in early childhood education, in accordance with the Finnish three-tiered educational support system. Keywords: early mathematics skills, low performance in mathematics, mathematics learning disability, mathematics intervention, review, specific language impairment, educational support
  • Sakurai, Yusuke (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    This doctoral thesis explored international university students academic engagement and factors contributing to its enhancement and impediment. It revealed characteristics of international students academic engagement by demonstrating similarities to and differences among various groups of students, including between international student sub-groups and between domestic and international students. The four studies that make up this thesis incorporated two survey datasets on students learning experiences at the University of Helsinki one set for international students at the Bachelor s and Master s level, and the other set for international and domestic doctoral students. Studies I and II focused on different subgroups of international Bachelor s and Master s level students. Study I especially explored the associations of different dimensions of students teaching-learning environment and academic engagement. The purposefulness of the course assignments and the relevance of learning contents were associated with adopting a deep approach to learning and being organised in their studies. Furthermore, the better the students perception was of how well their courses were organised and learning contents were aligned with each other, the lower was their stress level. The research further attempted to show whether the association model differed between two major international student cohorts in the same educational context: European and Asian international students. Study I concluded that the impacts of dimensions of the teaching-learning environment on students academic engagement did not differ between the student groups. However, the scores indicating students cognitive engagement, including the surface approach to learning and organised studying for the Asian students, were statistically significantly higher than those of the European students, but the sizes of the differences were considered to be very small. Study II further narrowed the scope by analysing Chinese students cognitive engagement vis-à-vis the other international students, with attention given to the students survey extreme response styles. The results suggested that the Chinese students used the surface approach more than the other students with a small amount of difference, but these results warrant additional attention when the students extreme response styles are taken into account. Furthermore, the study showed that the Chinese students applied the deep approach and organised study as much as the other students. The Chinese students might take a deep approach and organise their studies even more if the levels of their extreme response styles were equivalent to that of the other students. Studies III and IV shed light on factors associated with international doctoral students academic engagement in their studies. Study III used both quantitative measures and students open-ended answers about their academic experiences. It addressed influential factors in their experiences of satisfaction with their studies and thoughts about abandoning their programmes. Both positive and negative factors in research supervision and positive factors in the personal domain were significantly associated with student satisfaction. The doctoral students levels of academic satisfaction were lower in the Faculty of Arts, and higher among those who had not yet decided on the format of their doctoral thesis: monograph or article-based thesis. In addition, the results suggested that students who had problems in supervision and department-related matters, including financing, research facilities and administrative responsibilities, were more prone to have considered dropping out of their studies. Study IV examined the association of doctoral students motivation to undertake doctoral studies and the levels of their emotional engagement. It demonstrated the differences and similarities of the association between international and domestic doctoral students by integrating a data-driven statistical approach. The results suggested that students who started their doctoral studies with low motivation to extend their career prospects were significantly less satisfied. More international students than domestic students were classified in the cluster of students who began their studies hoping to develop their career prospects with moderate levels of research interest. This thesis contributes to our knowledge of the characteristics of international students academic engagement by demonstrating that students studying in the same educational context appeared to engage in their studies in a fairly comparable way. The thesis stresses the importance for university teachers to be sensitive about their own understanding of particular groups of students in the current, highly diversifying atmosphere of tertiary education. The comparison of different groups with the use of effect sizes consistently showed only very small or even negligible differences. Therefore, this thesis calls more attention to the practical size of differences between different cohorts, which have often been reported in previous comparative studies, but without a great deal of interpretation. Finally, the four studies could not demonstrate links between the students positive engagement in their studies and their academic peers. Hence, this thesis argues that international students may not take sufficient advantage of peer support and collaborative synergy during their university studies.
  • Zilliacus, Harriet (Helsingin yliopisto, 2014)
    Supporting Students Identities and Inclusion in Minority Religious and Secular Ethics Education: A Study on Plurality in the Finnish Comprehensive School The purpose of this doctoral thesis is to explore how education in minority religions and secular ethics supports students identities and inclusion in the Finnish comprehensive school. The focus is on students in grades 1 6 (age 7 13) in the Helsinki metropolitan area. The identities of the students are viewed from a constructivist perspective as their conceptions of themselves in the context of the instruction group and the school. The student s different identities, including his or her religious and non-religious identities, are examined as part of an intercultural educational context. In this context student inclusion is viewed as the student s experiences of him- or herself as equal and integrated. This article-based thesis takes a qualitative approach and is based on four articles, each targeting one sub-question which aims at answering the research problem. Article I focused on how students experience instruction in their own minority religious education or in secular ethics, and how they perceive themselves as part of the overall school culture. This study was based on a participant observation study in 2009 10 undertaken in five different minority religion and secular ethics classes in one comprehensive school. The findings indicated that minority students generally found having their own group to be a positive experience. However, the study also showed that students expressed a negative sense of difference in relation to majority students and that there were several practical concerns in the organization of the classes. The subsequent articles, Articles II IV, were based on interviews with 31 teachers and 3 teacher coordinators in 2011. Article II focused on how minority religion and secular ethics teachers view the task of supporting and including plurality within the classroom. Article III focused on how teachers and teacher coordinators view the inclusion of minority religious education in the school culture. The final article, Article IV, focused on how teachers of minority religions view the significance of education in supporting students identities. The findings within these articles illuminated how students identities were embedded in the educational context, which included both supportive and challenging aspects. The supportive aspects that the teachers and teacher coordinators emphasized included a sense of belonging and community in the group, the inclusion of students with immigrant backgrounds, as well as the support given to students diverse cultural and religious backgrounds. The support given to students backgrounds was strongly dependent on the size and structure of the mixed age class and the teachers capacities to take all students into account. A central challenging aspect included structural discrimination in the education. In teachers views, some minority students also felt separated and isolated in relation to majority students and were subject to instances of discrimination. Furthermore, the overall lack of dialogue within the schools and between the classes emerged as a challenge for including the minority students in the school cultures. The findings moreover indicated that the way minority religious education supports students identities includes challenges. The current system of education appears strong with regard to supporting students identities within a given tradition. However, it does not always take into account modern plurality and the individual identities of students. In teachers views students identities were frequently seen as bound to a particular tradition, and socialization into the religious tradition was clearly present. This puts into question the adequacy of the current model and educational practice. For the future development of religious education it is vital that the challenges in the educational context are met and that students identities are viewed as open to change and individual development.