Faculty of Educational Sciences

 

Recent Submissions

  • Niemelä, Mikko (Helsingin yliopisto, 2022)
    Curriculum integration refers to the integration of educational knowledge or to the building of an interdisciplinary curriculum with the objective of making learning more holistic. Key questions pertaining to curriculum integration include how to differentiate between and integrate knowledge within and across the boundaries of school subjects. However, school subjects often contradict curriculum integration because the subjects seemingly fragment the curriculum. This thesis explores what it means to adopt a knowledge-based approach to curriculum integration and examines the kinds of conditions set by knowledge integration with respect to teaching and curriculum design. This article-based thesis includes three studies. Two of the studies are theoretical, while the other applies quantitative empirical methods. The studies identify three major conditions affecting curriculum integration. The first study presents curriculum integration as a challenge for teachers precisely because it expands the demands of teacher knowledge. The second study points to the subject-matter specific character of curriculum integration, meaning that not all subjects can be equally integrated with one another. Given that curriculum integration creates challenges for teachers and is subject-matter specific, the third study suggests that it needs to be addressed more clearly as an issue concerning the organisation of educational knowledge in the written curriculum. To study the requirements of teacher knowledge and how they change when curriculum is integrated, the thesis applies Lee Shulman’s construct of pedagogical content knowledge. Then, to examine why knowledge matters at the level of written curriculum, it draws on discussions about powerful knowledge in education initiated by Michael F.D. Young and Johan Muller. These two frameworks serve in a mutually complementary way to assess both the level of teaching and that of curriculum design. The knowledge-based approach reveals that integrating educational knowledge is essential to the formation of school subjects and to the design of the curriculum as a coherent whole. The major claim of this thesis is that separate school subjects and curriculum integration are not opposing poles, but rather comprise the basic elements of teaching and curriculum design.
  • Vesterinen, Liisa (Helsingin yliopisto, 2022)
    This study investigated the reading and writing disorder among Finnish-speaking candidates of the Matriculation Examination. The study was based on dyslexia diagnostic assessment reports sent to the Matriculation Examination Board. The severity of the disorder had been graded with a four-point scale (no disorder, minor, moderate and severe disorder). The candidates’ difficulties with reading, writing, and foreign languages had been evaluated with screening tests and free-form descriptions. In addition, this study examined when the reading and writing disorder had been identified, and whether the candidates had enrolled into special education programmes during the various stages of school education. A multi-method research approach was chosen. The research data consist of a total of 793 diagnostic assessment reports of the spring 2008 candidates: 492 reports concerned females and 301 males. All the candidates spoke Finnish and were enrolled in either a regular school or an adult high school. The assessors of the reading and writing disorder, who were mainly special teachers, had employed a vast variety of screening tests to resolve the degree of the disorder. This study focused on data from the following subset of tests: standardized Niilo Mäki Institute tests aimed for youth and adults, as well as a so-called Tarzan-test tailored for upper secondary school students. According to the four-point scale of grading, more than half of the candidates had minor difficulties with reading (decoding and comprehension) as well as writing (spelling and productive writing). When it came to learning of foreign languages, the candidates showed an almost equal likelihood of minor and moderate difficulties. Both the test results and the free-form descriptions indicated the following key problems among the candidates: slowness in reading, and misspelling of words during writing. The candidates also had difficulties with productive writing to some extent. The foreign language difficulties greatly resembled the difficulties experienced with the mother tongue. Most of the reading and writing disorders had been spotted during comprehensive school. However, there was a significant number of candidates whose disorder had gone unnoticed until the upper secondary school. Most of the candidates in the group where the observation had taken place in the comprehensive school had received special education. The special education had reached only one tenth of the group where the observation had taken place later. A significant fraction (38 %) of the candidates had not been in a special education programme at any education stage. With regards to the disorder identification time and the access to the special education programmes, there were no differences that could be explained with gender or regional aspects. On the contrary, comparing regular schools to adult high schools did reveal differences. Looking from an equality perspective, it would be crucial that the reading and writing disorder is taken into account in the Matriculation Examination. This study indicates that there is room for improvement to ensure that the candidates with dyslexia can take part on an equal footing with students without the disorder. Keywords: reading and writing disorder, taking reading and writing disorder into account in the Matriculation Examination, dyslexia diagnostic assessment report, equality, decoding skills, reading comprehension, spelling skills, productive writing
  • Pyy, Iida (Helsingin yliopisto, 2022)
    Research on the relevance of emotions in political mobilisation has increased in recent decades. One reason for this may be the increasingly polarised and diversified nature of the political culture in liberal democracies. This thesis contributes to this discussion from the viewpoint of Martha Nussbaum’s philosophical work on political emotions – a perspective that has not yet been comprehensively examined in the field of education. The study aims to explore both the tensions and the possibilities involved in education for political emotions with respect to constructing and pursuing collective political aims. It elucidates how Nussbaum’s work could increase our understanding of the role of political emotions in political mobilisation and provide guidance for education in terms of addressing various social and political challenges.  This thesis is a theoretical inquiry and employs the methods of philosophical research, including theoretical and conceptual analysis as well as philosophical argumentation. The thesis consists of three interrelated studies that approach the relevance of Nussbaum’s work to education from different angles. Furthermore, through the studies, Nussbaum’s work is discussed in three frameworks of political education: global citizenship education, democratic citizenship education, and human rights education.  The first study explores how Nussbaum’s work can increase our understanding of the possible harmful effects associated with negative political emotions (such as fear and anger). Drawing from a recent case of educational policy-making in one of the largest cities in Finland, and from Nussbaum’s theory of political emotions, the first study elucidates the problematic consequences that negative political emotions can have for the political culture, educational policy-making, and for global citizenship education. This study also emphasises the importance of following established democratic procedures, policies, and guidelines in educational decision-making. Furthermore, the study argues for the reinforcement of positive political emotions (such as hope and compassion) as a long-term educational objective.  The second study examines how Nussbaum’s theory of political emotions – more specifically, her understanding of democratic politics and the role of emotions in political mobilisation – may contribute to the contemporary philosophical debates on citizenship education. While the study focuses on contesting agonistic models of citizenship education, it also addresses the limitations of deliberative and liberal theories, and illuminates the relationship of Nussbaum’s theory to these contesting approaches. Drawing from Nussbaum, the second study highlights the important role of political emotions in education for democratic citizenship, yet challenges the centrality of political conflict in citizenship education. It further argues that citizenship education can and should play a part in shaping the way students come to understand the nature of the political: as a collective striving towards shared goals, supported by constructive political emotions, rather than a conflictual relation between ‘us’ and ‘them’.  The third study focuses especially on envisioning the practical implementations of Nussbaum’s theory of political emotions. The study suggests that the relevance of Nussbaum’s work to education is associated with its potential for offering guidance on how to develop the motivation ultimately needed to work for social justice. In the third study, Nussbaum’s theory, particularly the concept of political compassion, is discussed in the context of human rights education. The study suggests different ways in which the pedagogic capability of narrative imagination, a concept drawn from Nussbaum’s educational account, could be practiced in classrooms when teaching and learning about human rights issues, such as racial discrimination. Therefore, the third study takes the first steps in imagining a ‘Nussbaumian pedagogy’. As a whole, the thesis proposes that through Nussbaum’s work it is possible to argue that emotions matter for political mobilisation. The study also suggests that a model of citizenship education informed by Nussbaum’s theory of political emotions could contribute to citizenship education theorising by avoiding some of the problems associated with the deliberative, liberal, and agonistic models of citizenship education. Furthermore, the thesis suggests that Nussbaum’s work can provide education with guiding ideals and principles that can have particular relevance in the current theoretical, educational, and an increasingly polarised social and political landscape. Nussbaum’s theory might help in articulating some constructive and solution-oriented suggestions for education that are much needed in our interconnected world that faces global challenges. However, this study finds that Nussbaum’s ideas need to be brought into discussion with the ones articulated by scholars from more critical schools of thought. Furthermore, this thesis argues that while political emotions are focal for political action as well as for education, the nature of different political emotions and their role in society should be critically reflected upon in order to understand both their ambivalences and their possibilities. Only when political emotions are exposed to serious scrutiny, can they be beneficial in education for the good of societies.
  • Hummelstedt, Ida (Helsingin yliopisto, 2022)
    This dissertation focuses on Finnish multicultural education on the level of discourses in teacher education and practice in schools. Earlier research on multicultural education, both internationally and in Finland, has shown that good intentions to celebrate diversity and integrate culturally different Others do not always end up promoting social justice for all pupils, and instead often merely reproduce unequal power relations. In the Finnish context, multicultural education has often concentrated on those considered immigrant pupils but reports and research show that pupils who become racialised as non-whites and/or perceived as immigrants and non-Finnish are still often marginalised or made victims of racism in education. Thus, the aim of this dissertation is to investigate what kind of multicultural education is taught in Finnish teacher education and in schools and to determine its implications for social justice. The theoretical framework in the dissertation is critical multicultural education, which aims to examine and act upon all kinds of inequalities created and sustained in schools and education. The dissertation is also informed by critical theories on race. The study consists of three publications, each encompassing one sub-study with one level of Finnish multicultural education and one set of data: teacher education programme policy documents, teacher educator interviews, and video observations of teaching by a teacher specialised in multicultural education (multicultural education in practice). The analysis of the data is based on a social constructionist paradigm informed by critical multicultural education. I used discourse theory for the analysis of the teacher education programme policies and teacher educator interviews, and an applied version of conversation analysis for the analysis of the video observations of the teaching situations. The sub-study of the teacher education programme policy documents found that the dominating discourses on multicultural education conformed to a conservative framework, constructing the immigrant Other as a problem and as someone to be integrated into Finnish society. The policies also contained liberal and critical discourses, but the critical discourses focusing on social justice often used concepts other than multicultural ones that generally emerged as an othering concept. The problems constructed in the different discourses led to different implications for teaching: the conservative discourses focused on educating the Other, the liberal discourses on appreciating diversity, and the critical discourses on educating and acting against inequalities. The sub-study of teacher educators found the dominating discourses to be those that promoted a liberal multicultural education that acknowledged and appreciated diversity. Although in the minority, there was also a conservative discourse that constructed the immigrant Other as a problem or a threat, and several discourses maintained the dichotomy of Finns and the multicultural Others. The discourse on self-reflection shifted the gaze to the teacher students and teachers instead of the Others, and the critical discourses aimed to examine inequality and act for equality. In the sub-study of the video observations of teaching situations led by a teacher specialised in multicultural education, categorisation on the basis of race, nationality and gender emerged frequently among the pupils. A closer analysis of the use of the categorisations showed that the way in which the pupils used them in regard to their classmates did not grant all pupils the same agency and belonging, and the dichotomy of Finns and immigrants was also sustained on this level. The categorisations were mostly reacted to by other pupils and not so much by the teacher, who focused more on the pedagogical dimension. On the whole, the dissertation shows that although Finnish multicultural education has some critical discourses, the dominating discourses are liberal and conservative, and the positions and solutions they produce often hinder social justice more than enable it. The analysis suggests that the subject position of the multicultural immigrant Others is constructed as the opposite to that of Finns, rendering the position of the Other a position of deficit and the position of a Finn as unachievable for those once constructed as Others, with race being a central factor in this construction. The analysis also showed that diversity was simultaneously constructed as both the new norm and as something outside it, to a larger extent existing in the schools than in teacher education. The analysis of problems and subject positions in the discourses showed the importance of which problems are chosen to be focused on and what kind of positions are enabled for the different actors in education. The analysis also showed that pupils are active agents involved in the categorisations relevant for social justice every day in schools. The study suggests implications for the improvement of Finnish multicultural education to promote social justice. It proposes that Finnish multicultural education needs to articulate itself as explicitly antiracist and to re-articulate Finnishness as inclusive and dynamic. The study argues that critical analysis is needed of subject positions and the problems constructed in the discourses on multicultural education at different levels of education, and that we need to concentrate on the lack of social justice as the problem for which we must find solutions. The study also suggests that teachers need education in critical reflection on norms, power and privilege in order to be able to engage in discussions on these issues with their pupils. To enable this, teacher educators must also themselves critically reflect on their complicity in the reproduction of injustices and act consciously to disrupt it. Further, multicultural education ought to be developed to benefit all pupils and students, implying equal participation in the articulations of problems, contents, and discourses. In this process, all actors in schools and education should be positioned as agents of social justice. The study advocates a combination of critical multicultural education, antiracist education, norm critical education and other closely related pedagogies in the process of developing and implementing education for social justice. It further recommends including the emotional dimension of critical multicultural education in future research and using the tensions between intentions and outcomes as opportunities for continuously developing the field. ________________________________________ Keywords: Finnish multicultural education, critical multicultural education, race, social justice, discourse theory analysis, teacher education programme policies, teacher educator interviews, teacher video observations
  • Vuorinen, Kaisa (Helsingin yliopisto, 2022)
    This study arose from the need for new knowledge and materials to apply positive education and character strength teaching in Finland. One of the promises in the Finnish National Core Curriculum (2014, p. 14) is that every student has the right to grow into his or her full potential as a human being and as a member of society. However, one of the main challenges in any educational organization is how to nurture students’ capacity to fulfill their potential. The goal of positive education is to make every learner aware of their own strengths, also the capabilities that are not typically visible in traditional schoolwork. This thesis examines how usage of students’ personal strengths is related to their happiness and how character strengths can be taught to students and teachers to benefit their social skills and well-being. As part of the thesis, two new character strength intervention programs with a lot of practical material were developed for both students and teachers. The theory base in this thesis comes from positive psychology (Seligman & Csíkszentmihályi, 2000), the paradigm that focuses on the positive aspects of life, and its educational applications. This thesis consists of three original studies. First the link between the usage of personal strengths and general happiness was examined with a sample of Finnish 10-16-year-old students (n=418). Second, the usage of personal strengths, social skills and well-being in students aged 10-13 (n=175, of which 17 had special needs) was promoted via a controlled 16-week character strength intervention that was developed for the purpose. And finally, in Study 3, it was researched how character strengths, particularly compassion, can be explicitly taught in a six-week controlled intervention for early childhood head teachers (n=95). The first main finding was that the students’ usage of their personal strengths is related to their general happiness, both directly and indirectly via school-related happiness and school engagement. A total of 53 percent of students’ overall happiness could be explained by the structural equation model specified for the purpose. The result shows the importance of being able to use one’s personal strengths in schoolwork and it reveals one of the potential factors capable of fostering positive school experiences and happiness. The second key finding came from the intervention study that evidenced that all boys in the whole intervention group improved in anti-aggressive behavior and in consistency of interest with statistical significance. The girls in the mainstream intervention group showed a statistically significant increase in empathy and perseverance of effort. The students with special needs seemed to benefit from explicit character strengths teaching, however with no statistical significance. In addition, improved teacher-student and student-student relationships were documented by the teachers. The teachers who implemented the intervention expressed great satisfaction in their interviews. They praised the improved social cohesion among their students and a positive change in their pedagogical working habits as teachers. The third main finding in the thesis was that the early childhood head teachers’ participation in the character strengths intervention brought a significant increase in their identification and usage of personal strengths. Additionally, the teachers reported advanced skills in creating a more compassionate, supportive organizational culture in early childhood education and care (ECEC) settings. To conclude, adopting a strength-based approach in schools and in ECEC settings and equipping students and teachers with character strengths knowledge seems to promote their well-being. However, running interventions and testing new pedagogies is a challenging task. These challenges are discussed in this thesis. The thesis adds to both the theoretical and practical development of character strengths teaching and teacher education. Given the importance of teaching well- being-related skills to students with special needs, one suggestion of this thesis is to consider the role of positive education in greater depth in inclusive classrooms. In addition, knowing the salience of ECEC to young children’s well-being and learning, a strength-based approach should be promoted early on. In the last chapter of the thesis, implications for future studies and practices are suggested. This thesis has relevance for researchers in the field of positive education, special education, inclusive education, and basic education. It also includes ideas for guidelines for teacher education, policy makers and school principals, teachers, and other stakeholders to promote strengths education in school and in ECEC settings. Keywords: positive education, character strengths, well-being, happiness, intervention study, children with special educational needs
  • Kauppila, Aarno (Helsingin yliopisto, 2022)
    This study analyses citizenship and governmentality concerning persons with learning disabilities. It contributes to academic debates in disability studies and educational sociology by analysing the educational and societal positioning of persons with learning disabilities. In addition, the study participates in social policy research debates concerning social services for and living conditions of persons with learning disabilities. The dissertation consists of four academic articles and a summary. The articles analyse Finnish national and international disability and education policy from the early 1990s to the end of the 2010s as well as everyday education practices of the vocational programme called “Preparatory education and training for work and independent living” (the training programme) at a vocational special education institution. The summary discusses and scrutinizes the themes and findings of the articles in their historical context. The research data consists of (1) national and international policy documents, (2) interviews conducted with nine experts in vocational special needs education, and (3) ethnographic fieldnotes and interviews from fieldwork conducted in a vocational special education institution during the school year in 2015–2016. The concept of governmentality and theory on the relation between normalcy and disability form the theoretical framework for this study. Utilizing these theoretical perspectives, the analysis focuses on various technologies and rationalities by which persons with learning disabilities are governed as citizens. The analysis of disability and education policies shows that since the 1990s the main objective of these policies has been to improve the socio-economic situation of people with learning disabilities and their opportunities to participate in society. In line with these policy objectives, in the last few decades persons with learning disabilities have had more opportunities for social participation, especially in education. Since the late 1990s, persons with learning disabilities have had the right to participate in both basic and post-compulsory education within the general education system. This however intersects with neo-liberal rationalization becoming mainstream in political reasoning. The neoliberal reasoning of self-sufficiency and economic independence has altered the legitimization of social and educational provision for persons with learning disabilities. Analysis of the interviews with vocational special needs education experts and the ethnographic data from the training programme shows how segregated educational arrangements are legitimized and how persons with learning disabilities are governed within these arrangements. The training programme does not lead to vocational qualifications. Instead, its societal function is to guarantee students who are not seen as able to cope with vocational education an opportunity to participate in post-compulsory education. Therefore, the training programme is legitimized though its societal function; participation in it is considered as societal participation per se. In contrast to this view, the analysis of the content of the programme makes visible how the students are actually guided to social services and trained to live as self-sufficiently as possible within these settings. By historizing both the expansion of educational options for persons with learning disabilities and the mainstreaming of neoliberal reasoning in disability and education policy, the study shows how disability and education services have been separated during the last decades. This separation has depoliticized the connection between social services and education. Through depoliticization, the educational objectives and practices of the training programme are defined as an educational matter, and therefore, as both unquestionable and reasonable. It is argued that this change has affected the societal positioning of persons with learning disabilities as deserving poor citizens since the 1990s.
  • Hautakangas, Merja (Helsingin yliopisto, 2022)
    The development of self-regulation skills is a significant developmental goal for a child because these skills are pivotal for learning, establishing positive interactions, and forming a sense of belonging, and self-efficacy. Various intervention programmes have been developed to facilitate children’s self-regulation skills. Currently, studies on the effectiveness of intervention programmes to enhance children’s self-regulation skills in Finland are limited despite the widespread adoption of such programmes. The purpose of this doctoral thesis is to examine the Kids’ Skills intervention programme (Furman, 2003). While the programme has been in use since the 1990s in Finnish education to promote children’s self-regulation skills, little research knowledge on Kids’ Skills is available. The research objective of this thesis is to understand how children’s self-regulation skills develop with the help of the Kids’ Skills intervention in Finnish early childhood education and how professionals use the programme to enhance these skills. Research attention is also directed to children’s and their guardians’ experiences of the intervention programme. The objectives of this doctoral study are addressed through the following research questions: 1) How do early childhood education professionals promote children’s self-regulation skills through the Kids’ Skills intervention programme, and 2) How do children’s self-regulation skills develop in the Kids’ Skills intervention programme?. The context of this doctoral thesis is early childhood education and pre-primary education and special education. This mixed methods study was carried out as a ten-week intervention. The participants comprised 28 children between the ages of four and seven years old from early childhood education and pre-primary education, their guardians, and 14 early childhood education professionals working in day-care centres in Finland. In addition, the study included a control group of 15 children, their guardians, and professionals. The research data were gathered prior to, during, and after the intervention. The quantitative data were collected by using the Head-Toes-Knees-Shoulders test (Ponitz et al., 2008.), and the Children Behaviour Rating Scale form (Bronson et al., 1995). In addition, the video footages were analysed using the Adult Engagement Scale (Laevers, 1994). The research was complemented with qualitative data collected from the early childhood education professionals and children participating in the study. These data consisted of written accounts from the professionals and visual-narrative data from the children. The quantitative data were analysed via ANOVA and t-tests. Qualitative thematic content analysis was used for analysing the professionals’ accounts and the visual-narrative material produced by the children. The thesis contains a summary and three empirical articles. The first article focused on investigating the effects of the Kids’ Skills intervention on children’s self-regulation skills and how professionals promoted these skills. The second article focused on education professionals, and it studied how children’s self-regulation skills were supported in a Kids’ Skills intervention, also from a pedagogical perspective. The third article investigated how children described changes in their learning of self-regulation skills in the intervention and how these changes were reflected in their social environment. The results indicated that the child's self-regulation skills improved significantly with the aid of the Kids’ Skills intervention. The results suggest that the child’s development of self-regulation skills was driven by the programme’s child-centredness, growth mindset and the emphasis placed on the child’s inclusion and agency. The professionals enhanced the child’s self-regulation skills through sensitive co-regulation, encouraging the child in a goal-oriented manner while supporting their autonomy and self-confidence in their abilities. The professionals using Kids’ Skills were highly committed to promoting the child’s self-regulation skills, whereas such commitment could not be observed in the control group. In their own drawings and recollections, the children described how their personal challenges had become strengths. For example, feelings of anger had turned into compassion towards a peer. The children also described decrease in their aggressive behaviour, and increased friendship skills. In addition, the children described changes in the roles and dynamics within their peer group. For instance, they gained the courage to actively participate in shared games and were accepted as participants. The thesis indicates that children’s self-regulation skills can be enhanced in early childhood education with the aid of the Kids’ Skills intervention, but the success of the program is dependent on the commitment, pedagogical expertise, and pedagogical leadership of early childhood education professionals.
  • Kuosmanen, Sinikka (Helsingin yliopisto, 2022)
    The Art Narrative is a two-part and four-task study of art education in early childhood education within the constructive cultural framework of education and development. My research is guided by Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological systems theory (1979, 1989, 2005) of sociology of education, Bruner’s (1989, 1996, 2003) constructive cultural psychological theories of the development of representative, narrative and practical thinking and dialogic learning and teaching, Vygotsky’s (1978) sociocultural theory of the child´s proximal development zone and play aa the principal focus of research on early achildhood and Räsänen´s constructive multisensory holistic conception of art knowledge. My research seeks to determine how early childhood art education manifests itself in the context of early childhood education and what aspects of the constructive cultural framework guides my work. The first part of my research utilizes the empirical part of my 1994 licentiate thesis, which is an is an autoethnographic, retrospective and reflective oral history study. The second part of the study continues the results of the first part. It comprises both a theoretical and an analytical study of the literature and my own research experiences with a body-mind-art interactive data set regarding early childhood art education and its functional implementation. My first research uses Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological systems theory to explore viewa and actions of my own and others’ related to early childhood art education from 1980 to 2020. My second research task focuses on how early childhood art education manifests itself as a narrative model in Bronfenbrenner´s bioecological systems theory, Bruner’s theories of cultural psychological education and representation and Räsänen’s multi-sensory understanding of art knowledge. My third research task explores art pedagogy in early childhood education based on Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological theories and Bruner’s theories of narrative and practical thinking development and dialogic learning, representation theory as well as Vygotsky’s theory of proximal development zone and playfulness. I examine the art activity and skill set of early childhood art education and art learning based on Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological system theory, Brunner’s representation, and Vygotsky’s proximal-zone development theory. My fourth task combines the results of the second and third tasks into two models, an interactive narrative model of early childhood art education and an art pedagogical plot and story art model suitable for early childhood education based on Vygotsky´s views on play. My 1994 licentiate thesis in education provides the basic material for my autoethnographic research. I used the material compiled, but not processed, for the licentiate thesis statically and content-analytically in my dissertation. The former material includes interviews with children, parents, and employees in the mid- 1980 s and my own notes related to the practical implementation of art education in kindergartens and the views that guide it. I supplement the first research material by interviewing employees and children in kindergarten in the mid- 1980s and their parents in the spring of 2020. The latter material comprises the quantitative and quantitatively elaborated part of my licentiate thesis and an empirical analysis of the theoretical and research literature related to early childhood development and early childhood art education. In the first part of the research, I engage in a reflective and retrospectively reminiscent dialogue with my research data. I compare my research and the results I obtained with other research literature on early childhood art education completed between 1978 and 2020, either directly or closely related to it. I also examine expert discussion on the topic and the social decisions that influenced pre-school art education such as the day-care system, early and art education, and staff training. I transform the qualitative material I have collected into narrative episodes and place them in the structure of Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological systems theory and timewise between the 1980s and 2020. I study the chronological variation in the narratives. I examine my own actions and those of others’ and my experiential interpretation thereof, comparing them over time and reflecting on them. Although my licentiate thesis (1994) employs bioecological systems theory in macro-, exo-, meso-, and micro-environments and interaction among them, in the dissertion my reasoning focused on the most immediate microenvironment and describes my owing individual characteristics and child development and those of significant adults. By studying these, I was able to verify the various roles of children and adults in an art education event. Through this qualitative research and by transforming interviews into experiential mini-narratives, I produced a meta-narrative of the starting points and challenges of early childhood art education. It was a paradox narrative of change. While the children’s perspective and the individual’s positive conditions, especially those of their parents, such as attitudes, motivations, and skills regarding engagement in art education, strengthened over the period 1980– 2020, threats from external circumstances increased. These circumstances had a differentiating effect, thereby causing and maintaining inequality in art education in the micro-environment. Children remained on the level of art lovers, art no longer became an integral part of their lives. The planned co-operative roles of early childhood educators, parents and early childhood education workers as immediate art educator became random, depending on the situation. In the second part, I explore art knowledge and the skills of child´s yearly years. I do so with the help of both my previous research and other philosophical theoretical research literature suitable for my current theoretical frame of reference. With the constructive cultural framework of my research as a starting point, I examine what early childhood art education has to offer and what is worthwhile implemening. Based on Bruner’s theories of cultural psychological education and representation and Räsänen’s holistic conception of art knowledge, I study the child’s body-mind and the art entity. I begin by exploring bodymind personality and art as separate phenomena and knowledge attributes, actions, and skills. From this knowledge and skills, I compile a structure of early childhood art education, an art narrative model based on a constructive cultural frame of reference. Applying the theory of representation, I modify the model of spiral information acquisition and the narrative form realized for it through narrative and dialogical interaction. I place this in the environment of early childhood education and treat it as a everyday pedagogical practice, i.e. artistic play acting in accordance with Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development and concept of play. My many years of research materialize into the idea of the significant role of art education in early childhood education between home and hobby activities. The specifics of early childhood education are the group of children, play as the main activity of early childhood education, the narrative development of the child’s thinking and the significant role of the guiding adult and other children in the child’s zone of proximal developmental. In kindergarten, a child encounters the same children and adults daily and for several years. The activity includes a wide variety of encounters, short-lived and long-lasting, as well as changing and repeatedly similar. Key concepts: early education, art education, early education in music, visual arts, literature, word art, drama and theater, mental, motor, social, emotionaland early development of play, autoethnografic oral history research.
  • Huilla, Heidi (Helsingin yliopisto, 2022)
    In this doctoral dissertation, urban segregation and disadvantaged schools were examined. The main aim was to analyse how academically successful urban schools deal with socioeconomic disadvantage and what creates challenges for these encounters. The study is positioned in the fields of sociology of education, urban geography and school development studies, and consists of a summary and four sub-studies. The study continues the Bourdieusian research tradition, utilising the concept of institutional habitus. Schools are understood as parts of larger national and local contexts. Institutional habitus is defined as the school culture that has in its focus the interplay between the pupil base of the school, school practices and the collective meanings that are attached to these. The ethnographic data were produced during fieldwork in the mid-2010s in three primary schools in the Helsinki metropolitan area. The data consist of field notes written during 79 observation days and 70 interviews with school staff, pupils and parents. In addition, 69 scholarly articles were analysed for the first sub-study. The aim was to produce a theoretically generalisable understanding of urban schools and socioeconomic disadvantage. The main finding is that the institutional habitus of the three case schools and their pupils’ habitus are in alignment. Schools have a tendency to favour white middle class background pupils but there was an attempt to tackle this tendency in the schools in this study. It was also detected that disadvantaged schools encounter four challenging dilemmas. First, they need to encounter disadvantage and social problems while they also need to aim for respectful and fruitful co-operation with the families. In this, socioeconomic disadvantage and social class positions and life-styles were often unnecessarily mixed. Second, schools need to balance between support and demand. While they cannot give up on their pupils, if they demand too much, it might lead to severe consequences especially for the disadvantaged pupils. Third, schools need to project a good image, even when they need to discuss and describe problems realistically. This is because of the reputation game that schools need to take part in. Fourth, the work communities are simultaneously strong and fragile. While they create a sense of belonging and support to their staff, they exclude some. Disadvantaged schools need to solve these dilemmas in their everyday work, which creates a fifth dilemma: they need to deal with these challenges while they constantly need to develop and reflect on their practices and meaning making.
  • Lemos, Monica (Helsingin yliopisto, 2022)
    This dissertation provides an analysis of educational management, based on Cultural-Historical Activity Theory, within school and beyond its walls. To begin with, I analyzed the definition process of educational management that was furthermore used to produce and evaluate the management plan, a tool to reorganize an educational system. After that, I introduced a case in which a school reorganized its management based on a creative chain of activities to transform itself and the local community. Finally, I analyzed secondary students’ social movements as a form of paving the way to organize educational management from the grassroots. The whole research process was supported by formative interventions, leading to an intravention, under the umbrella of critical collaborative research, in which different stakeholders took part in different stages of the research to negotiate and act. In the formative intervention, the researcher played a central role in supporting participants in the organization of the activities and in the different learning cycles that took place in each bond of the creative chain of activities. The intravention was the result of the formative intervention. While the formative intervention enabled an environment collaboratively guided by the researcher, in the intravention stakeholders developed and enhanced the tools used in the formative intervention, In a different perspective, an exploratory study was also conducted, though investigating how secondary students developed their own intervention in the form of social movements as an attempt to reorganize the school. Concerning data, the Management in Creative Chians project comprised 120 hours of recorded videos of the formative meetings, which objective was to define the concept and support coordinating the educational management in the city. In addition to the formative encounters, different data sources comprised: interviews with educational managers, educational management plans, presentations used to organize and document the encounters, teacher planning, and educational management reports. Whereas in the students’ social movements, data derived from 122 Facebook pages posts related to the interconnected social movements: 56 pages from the movements that happened in São Paulo, and 66 pages about the movements in Rio de Janeiro. Data were collected between October 9, 2015, at the beginning of the first movement, until April 30, 2016. To analyze data from the Management in Creative Chains Project, qualitative methods were applied. Data were firstly organized based on the thematic content and afterwards, discursive analysis based on argumentation organization was conducted. In the secondary students’ social movements, in addition to qualitative methods, such as content and multimodal analysis, network analysis were also applied. I summarized the findings into five scientific articles of the dissertation (Article I - Article V). In Article I, the focus was on the formation of the concept of educational management. In Article II, the tool management plan was analyzed during its production and implementation. Articles III and IV dealt with a specific school case in which school members and the community worked together to solve a flood issue. Articles I and II were part of the Management in Creative Chains project, while Articles III and IV present an intravention, which was an extension of the management in a creative chain project. Article V introduced the exploratory study in which secondary students occupied their schools to fight for better educational conditions, providing the understanding of a form of educational management from students’ perspectives. This dissertation provides an interconnected thread of theoretical concepts and methodological framework that led to the analysis of different forms of expansive learning. Besides, the dissertation sheds the light on the analysis of educational management beyond schools’ walls.
  • Haapaniemi, Janni (Helsingin yliopisto, 2022)
    The main purpose of this doctoral thesis is to explore the characteristics of the integrative approach to learning. The study builds on the sociocultural approach to learning, emphasising pupils’ interactions, collaboration and agency in school. Tools are viewed as important mediators for learning. The empirical part of the thesis is based on two data collections. The first set of data were collected in three Finnish comprehensive schools in Spring 2017 through observations of eight different home economics lesson structures for grades 7–9 (pupils aged 13–16) in which an integrative approach to learning was used as a standpoint for planning the learning activities. Additionally, data were collected with five teacher interviews. The second data collection included observations from two home economics lessons with the same planned lesson structure, together with using the diamond ranking method with 8th grade pupils (aged 14–15) from one Finnish upper comprehensive school in Autumn 2019. Here, teacher interviews were conducted to strengthen interpretation of the observations and increase the credibility of the data. The thesis represents a compilation of three original publications. The study presented in Article I characterises the tools and pedagogical arrangements used in teaching with an integrative approach to learning. The study highlighted in Article II explores the teacher perspective on the integrative approach to learning from a curriculum development and teacher autonomy point of view. Finally, Article III describes a study that gives voice to pupils on the integrative approach to learning by examining which practices pupils considered important for working on collaborative and integrative learning tasks. The study utilises triangulation and combines multiple methods of data collection to access a nuanced view of the classroom reality in home economics related to the integrative approach to learning. The results emphasise the role of the teacher. Participating teachers did not feel taking an integrative approach to learning diminished their teacher autonomy but, instead, provided opportunities to develop their professionalism. Teachers assume the role of enabler in the integrative approach to learning for pupils, but only when the teacher communicates the integrative objectives to the pupils and carefully chooses the tools that enhance the integrative approach and the pupils are acquainted with those tools. Also, pupils considered the teacher’s role in making supportive pedagogical choices important when working with a learning task utilising an integrative approach to learning. As a main conclusion, I argue that collaboration is of utmost importance for effectively implementing an integrative approach to learning: through collaboration between teachers, the integrative approach can be used as a tool to develop the school’s collaborative culture. Moreover, collaboration between pupils in integrative learning tasks is important, as pupils considered collaborative ways of working being enhanced by interthinking. Additionally, when the teacher’s instruction through the integrative approach to learning reaches the pupil level and pupils comprehend its meaning can they learn to become integrative thinkers. The results suggested that this work is only beginning in Finnish home economics classrooms. This thesis does not cover all characteristics of the integrative approach to learning and leaves several perspectives for further study. The case study approach offers possibilities for using this study as a steppingstone for developing a school’s collaborative culture, teacher autonomy and lesson implementation towards an integrative approach to learning in home economics but also in other school subjects. Keywords: integrative approach to learning, sociocultural approach, tools, collaboration, diamond ranking method  
  • Maukonen, Martta (Helsingin yliopisto, 2022)
    Participation, reinforcement and resistance A case and action research study on the Aggression Replacement Training (ART) intervention The aim of this case and action research study is to describe the participation of five fourth-grade boys in the Aggression Replacement Training (ART) intervention. The data is mainly qualitative. The data collection methods used in this study were active participant observation, recorded intervention meetings and Multisource Assessment of Social Competence (MASC) questionnaire surveys. Researcher’s aim was also to develop her own professional skills and work by adopting the ART method as part of the teaching of students with special needs. The participants were members of a small group for socially and emotionally challenging pupils in a mainstream school. The researcher had a triple role: an ART instructor, a researcher and a teacher. The study shows that the pupils participated in the intervention but also resisted, for example, being taught social skills. One’s status position in a group can be so strong that it is difficult to learn new behavioral strategies and skills and use them in a familiar context. The study also shows that challenging behavior, such as impulsivity and disruptive behavior, seems to be fairly enduring according to the measurement results. In the peer assessments, there is almost no change in the impulsivity and disruptive behavior of participants. In the final self-assessment, the participants assessed their skills as even weaker than in the first assessment. This may be due to the fact that the participants became more aware of their social skills and were, as a result, able to be more realistic in their final self-assessments. To this end, numerous method guides and materials for teaching prosocial skills have been produced in early childhood education and in schools. Emotional skills have also been studied extensively in recent years. The whole operational culture of schools should be based on common educational aims, so that, for instance, teaching social and emotional skills would not be dependent on individual teachers but rather a joint goal shared by the whole school community. Keywords: ART-Aggression Replacement Training intervention, social competence, social status
  • Eskelinen, Kristiina (Helsingin yliopisto, 2022)
    The aim of this dissertation is to study children’s supervised after-school activities organised in educational spaces. For this purpose, the researcher conducted an ethnographic field study by attending after-school activities to observe and discover what kind of activities are arranged, how children perceive and narrate their afternoons. The methodology consisted of participatory observation, together with review and photo elicitation interviews of photographs taken by the children. The ethnographic research data is complemented by an analysis of documentary data on after-school activities. The research is a study in educational sciences with emphasis on the new social studies of childhood. Children’s photographs and interpretation of the images, as well as writing about them, are the key questions in this research, which emphasises the significance of children’s views, and considers children active agents and data producers and constructors of their own childhoods. The goal of the research is to understand the structure of children’s afternoons and how children themselves construct their afternoons. How do children photograph and narrate their after-school activities? How do we interpret children’s photographs and photo stories and how do we write about them? The research is composed of five publications and a summary. The first publication addresses questions raised about the nature of after-school activities and children’s free time. The second one studies documents governing the after-school setting. The third publication approaches the after-school activities from a parti-cipatory viewpoint. After careful consideration of the methodology for interpreting visual ethnographic data the first analyses were performed. The fourth publication reflects on the institutional leisure of children. Children’s views, objectives set for after-school activities and the tension between them are studied. The fifth publication is a study of the challenges in analysing, verbalising and writing about photographs, particularly those taken by children, including presentation of and theorising with some of the images. Use of visual methods in ethnographic research with children offer alternative perspectives into children’s worlds, experiences and meaning making. The photo elicitation method, also called ‘talking pictures’ gave the children a free hand in photographing and narrating their afternoons. However, children’s activities and photographing were somewhat constrained by the institutional environments. The aim was to keep the photographic data as open as possible by scrutinizing them from a number of perspectives. The concepts of territory and territoriality helped recognise various structures of the after-school activities, peer relationships of children, use of spaces and ways of acting. The photo elicitation method opened up an opportunity to see and hear children’s own views. The concept of Punctum exposed ways that children broke institutional practices, while the concept of the Decisive Moment enabled narration of events depicted in the images. Writing and theorising with images, as ‘a plugging of theory into data into theory’, photo elicitation as well as the concepts of Punctum and the Decisive Moment constituted a set of theoretical tools for contemplation, providing deeper insight into the photographic data and helping to transform meanings conveyed by images into writing. Analysis of the photographic data increases understanding of what is important to children, what kind of activities go on simultaneously during the supervised afternoons, what the institutional practices are and how children settle into them. One of the questions that came up during the research was the tension between children’s self-selected creative play and activities that are supervised and controlled, the serious and non-playful element of children’s leisure. Friends and uninterrupted play with friends were indicated as the most important thing in the photos and photo talks with the children. Analysis of the documentary data, on the other hand, explored the organisational principles of after-school activities, their history and grounding and how they became a part of the wellbeing debate. While safety, protection and wellbeing were highlighted as the primary criteria for the activities, also learning and educational objectives were considered important. It is therefore vital to discuss how institutional after-school activities should be constructed, what kind of an environment the after-school setting provides, whether or not children are being seen and heard and what children’s opportunities for participation and agency are. ________________________________________ Keywords: after-school activities, childhood, childhood studies, children, ethnography, photograph, photographing, photo elicitation, visual methods
  • Kuusimäki, Anne-Mari (Helsingin yliopisto, 2022)
    Modern technology provides efficient digital platforms to parent-teacher communication. However, little is known about how digital communication (DC) serves the partnership, the delivery of feedback and the passing on of clear information. In this dissertation, Joyce Epstein’s theory of “Overlapping Spheres of Influence” is adopted to examine Finnish parents and teachers views on DC in both urban and rural areas. Study I focused on the application of a new 14-item Digital Communication Scale (DCS) to elicit the views of parents and teachers on how DC serves partnership, feedback and the clarity of messaging. According to the results, the DCS showed a clear three-factor structure. Parents (N=1,123) and teachers (N=118) were satisfied with DC parent-teacher partnership and the exchanging of information. However, the parents believed that they received less encouraging feedback about their children and the teachers experienced communication as more unclear than the parents did. Rural parents and teachers were more positive than their urban peers on how DC fostered their collaboration. Study II investigated the views and expectations of parents (N=400) and teachers (N=80) on the content of DC, and how feedback on pupils should be expressed. The results for teacher well-being were reflected upon. Study indicated that it is important to deliver information about study-related matters and behavioral issues digitally to support the learning of pupils. Teachers should think carefully about the digital feedback they deliver, because parents do not wish to be told about minor or infrequent misbehavior in their children. If a child exhibits frequent behavioral problems or is facing sensitive issues, both parents and teachers prefer to communicate by phone or face-to-face. The findings confirmed that parents and teachers wanted more encouraging feedback on pupils. In sum, respectful DC includes elements of (1) clarity and readability, (2) informativity, frequency and effectivity and (3) quality. Study III examined the predictors of parental (N=1117) contentment with the amount of encouraging digital feedback. According to the results, the pupil´s grade level predicted the strongest parental contentment with encouraging feedback. Second, the parents of pupils in lower-secondary school were more content with the amount of encouraging digital feedback than their peers with children in primary school. Furthermore, a neutral or a positive parental attitude to digital communication predicted higher levels of contentment with the amount of encouraging feedback than experienced by parents with a negative attitude. Third, highly educated parents were less content with the amount of encouraging digital feedback than their less-highly educated counterparts.
  • Muinonen, Mari (Helsingin yliopisto, 2022)
    Primary school pupils’ emotions and actions related emotions during digi-tal content creation project In this qualitative research primary school pupils’ emotions during the collaborative digital content creation project have been studied. Emotions expressed in the learning diaries were examined, and also how the pupils’ actions could be described from an emotional point. The research attaches itself to a constructive paradigm the philosophy of science, and the goal is to understand the phenomenon studied and through it further understanding of the dimensions of digital project work. The research context is a digitalised learning environment and the operating culture within it, and digital content creation while working on an open learning task in which the pupils decide, as a group, the goals, the schedule, the method, and the instruments to be used within the project. It also demonstrates the combining of the role of teacher and researcher and the possibilities that pedagogical freedom gives to scientific research. The research was conducted in two primary school classes in Eastern Finland in the years 2015 and 2020.The materials used were the semi-structured personal learning diaries (N=62), that the pupils produced during the project, and which were analysed using content- and theme analysis. The results of the study were analysed through the relation between actions and feelings using affective science from the psychological aspect, mirroring the results with dimensional modelling, control-value theory of achievement emotions as well as emotions in collaborative learning. The material collected evidenced four actions related to the emotions expressed by the pupils. The actions were named as follows: a) unorganised and unfocused action, b) yielding and backing off, c) attaching or sliding, d) getting along or arguing. Working in a digital learning environment, during the digital content creation project, pupils learned and practiced competence in multiliteracy, ICT-skills, and emotional skills. Pupils used their abilities in problem-solving in many situations. The use of their informal learned digital know-how in schoolwork was evidenced as an added value. The pro-jects produced in a digital environment and in digital form brought the group to interact with humour, playfulness, creativity, and a general feeling of community with each other. This tied the group together and left a positive feeling of the work. The results of the research can be used in planning digital projects for schools and methods of digital teaching and more widely in developing a digital operating culture that takes in consideration pupils’ feelings. Theoretically the research gave further information especially on the importance of digitalisation and pupils feelings in communal working. Keywords: emotions, digital project, collaborative learning, digital content creation
  • Korkealehto, Kirsi (Helsingin yliopisto, 2022)
    The aim of this doctoral dissertation is to gain a deeper understanding on the aspects that contribute to higher education students’ social and academic engagement when language studies are implemented with the blended learning approach. Another aim is to discover the elements to enhance spoken interaction in the foreign language in blended learning language courses. Based on the results of sub-studies I-III, I argue that students’ academic and social engagement are intertwined, alternating, and nurturing one another during the learning process. Similarly, teacher engagement and student engagement are reciprocal phenomena nourishing one another and depending on each other. In addition, I argue that university of applied sciences students’ foreign language spoken interaction can be activated and enhanced in blended learning courses given the learning material, learning activities and digital tools are meaningful, relevant, timely and aligned with the learning objectives. This dissertation comprises three original studies; they focus on one language course each in the context of universities of applied sciences. Each sub-study experiments various opportunities that digital technology provides for language learning: social networking sites, gamification, telecollaboration and multimodality. Regardless of the course design all courses are based on the ecological language learning approach and the notion of engagement. In addition, authentic learning and students’ collaboration are in the focus; the target is that the students are producers rather than consumers of digital media and they act as active learners within authentic learning activities. All three courses were implemented with the blended learning approach. Sub-study I investigated first-year health care students’ (n=23) perspectives on a gamified professional English course regarding particularly engagement, enjoyability and language learning. The course was a three-credit, field-specific English course which duration was 10 weeks, including five face-to-face sessions. The course aimed to prepare students for communicating in multi-professional and intercultural situations within the health care sector. The course implementation was based on gamification with a background storyline. The students' reflective learning diaries and a post-course questionnaire formed the data which were analysed via content analysis method. The results indicate that gamification and appropriate digital applications augmented student engagement, enhanced language learning, and provided enjoyable learning experiences for the students. Further, students’ collaboration and a tolerant stress-free course atmosphere had a positive impact on learning and engagement according to the students’ self-reflections. Sub-study II explored the opportunities a telecollaboration project provided for online collaboration, language learning and student engagement. The participants were 26 higher education German language students, 12 in Finland and 14 in New Zealand. The students used a closed Facebook group for posting on given topics. The required five posts combined videos, photos, audio, and text. The duration of the project was six weeks, and it formed a part of the German course in both countries. The course design was informed by social networking sites in language learning and telecollaboration. A mixed method approach was used to collect quantitative and qualitative data. The qualitative data were analysed by content analysis method, and they included pre- and post-project questionnaires, interviews, and Facebook-logs. The results suggest that the students regarded Facebook as an appropriate tool for community building. In addition, collaboration, the use of communication tools, authenticity, enjoyment, and teachers’ support fostered student engagement and had a positive impact on students’ language learning and intercultural competence. Sub-study III discovered the impact multimodality and regular in-pairs conducted video calls had to spoken interaction in the target language and to student engagement. The research was conducted, and the data were collected in a 5-credit Business English course for 1st-year business administration students (n= 22) in a university of applied sciences. The course was divided into 16 weeks and 8 topics; during the course there were 5 face-to-face sessions. The students deployed various digital tools and particular attention was given to spoken interaction; hence the students were instructed to complete spoken discussions using an online video call system once a week according to the week’s topic using English in authentic, business-related situations. The data included students’ learning diaries and a post-course online questionnaire mapping students' perception. The data were analysed according to the content analysis method. The findings indicate that students’ academic and social engagement were fostered by course design with authentic assignments and study material as well as students’ activity and collaboration with peers. Further, collaboration, students’ own activities and digital technology contributed the most to spoken interaction. To conclude, the three sub-studies reflect universities of applied sciences students’ perception on the aspects that enhance engagement in digital learning environments and the methods to activate their spoken interaction in the foreign language. On the bases of the sub-studies, it became apparent that teacher role is paramount prior, during and after the course. Besides timely knowledge on digital tools, teachers need to master the traditional teacher competences such as subject content, pedagogy, guidance, facilitating and interaction. In addition, students’ own activities contribute immensely on their engagement and learning. Regarding spoken interaction, the data indicate that with relevant peer and teacher support and regular interaction students’ self-compassion and error-tolerance in terms of their own competences grow which leads to enjoying the regular spoken activities in the target language, and finally contributes positively to spoken interaction. Similarly, students’ self-reflection ability increases which enables targeted rehearsal of the language skill which in turn activates and enhances spoken interaction. Digitalisation offers myriad opportunities for individual and flexible learning paths regardless of time and place but does not decrease students’ nor teachers’ role. On contrary, students need to be active learners and teachers need wider range of competences in creating optimal learning experiences for their students. ________________________________________ Keywords: student engagement, blended learning, multimodality, social networking sites in learning, telecollaboration, spoken interaction, English for specific purposes, German as a foreign language, higher education
  • Mäkipää, Toni (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    Assessment and feedback are quintessential components of learning. If used properly, they can advance learning in myriad ways. The national core curriculum for general upper secondary education (2016) underlines that feedback is a crucial aspect of the relationship between a student and a teacher. With teacher feedback, students receive valuable information on their learning, how they have achieved their goals, and what they should do next. Likewise, the core curriculum describes the importance of diverse assessment practices. However, international research has established that there has been a lack of feedback in education. Therefore, this study was conducted to explore Finnish general upper secondary students’ perceptions of teacher assessment and feedback practices. This thesis comprises three sub-studies, for which a survey was used to collect the data. Both quantitative and qualitative methods were used. The purpose of sub-study I was to investigate students’ perceptions of assessment and feedback in general upper secondary schools. This study did not focus on specific subjects. Rather, the purpose was to explore general perceptions about assessment and feedback. The data (N=918) consisted of closed and open-ended questions, which were analysed using deductive content analysis and oneway ANOVA. The results showed that teachers tend to rely heavily on exams and that assessment in general is one-sided. The students also reported a lack of feedback although differences exist between teachers and subjects. Sub-study II focused on students’ perceptions of feedback in Swedish and English courses. The objective was to ascertain whether the perceptions differ between proficiency levels. The data (N=255) consisted of closed-ended answers, which were analysed using one-way ANOVA, one-way MANOVA, and exploratory factor analysis. Based on the analyses, it could be noted that no differences were found in English courses, whereas higher proficiency students in Swedish courses were more willing to correct their mistakes, found teacher feedback to be more useful, and received more feedback compared to lower-level students. A moderate correlation was found between proficiency level and the usefulness of feedback. The main aim of sub-study III was to explore the kind of feedback students find encouraging, and how they consider feedback to be one of several teacher assessment practices. The data (N=282) comprised one open-ended question and one closed-ended question with nine items. Inductive content analysis, oneway ANOVA, and one-way MANOVA were used in the analysis of the data. The results showed that feedback on the content of work is perceived as encouraging, particularly feedback on how to improve the work. Students related teacher assessment practices primarily to assessing exams and giving course grades. Feedback was not regarded to be an important teacher assessment practice. In conclusion, it can be stated that the current assessment and feedback practices give rise for concern. Assessment practices are not as diverse as the core curriculum stipulates, and the amount of feedback is limited. It also seems that feedback has not been useful for every student and that students have not internalised the role of feedback in teacher assessment practices. Therefore, the role of feedback about diverse assessment and feedback practices should be advocated more in teacher education, and in-service training for teachers is needed. Keywords: feedback, assessment, foreign languages, general upper secondary education
  • Perander, Katarina (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    My aim with this dissertation was to explore different factors that impede and enhance students’ transition to higher education in Finland. Studying in higher education requires self-regulated learning skills, self-efficacy, regulation of academic emotions and effective study strategies, which were also focused on in this dissertation. The theoretical framework for this dissertation was based on the social cognitive theory that perceives the student as an active participant in the learning process, who can regulate thoughts, emotions and actions in accordance with personal factors and the environment. This dissertation was composed of three part-studies, published in three articles, that contribute to the understanding of the complexity of the factors that affect the transition to higher education. Qualitative content analysis was used as methodological approach in all part-studies. The aim of the first part-study (Article I) was to examine how first-year university students perceived their learning strategies, self-regulated learning skills and academic emotions in and how they reflected on them in reflective journals. The findings showed that students perceived several challenges during their first semester in higher education. These challenges were related to independent learning, and more particularly to self-regulated learning. Moreover, the first part-study also showed that self-regulated learning was closely intertwined with the academic emotions perceived by the students. Thus, the students perceived different academic emotions both to affect self-regulated learning strategies and to be a result of those strategies, which indicated how complexly weaved they are with the learning process. In addition, this part-study demonstrated that reflective journals were useful in raising students’ awareness of their academic emotions and study strategies as well as their metacognitive awareness. Hence, this first part-study clearly indicated a need to provide students with opportunities to adapt to studying in higher education by normalising feelings of insecurity and by supporting self-regulated learning skills. The aim of the second part-study (Article II) was to explore how upper secondary school educators (teachers and study counsellors) perceived and described their students’ self-belief, study habits, academic emotions and behaviour. This part-study was conducted as an interview study. By understanding what happens before the transition to higher education it is possible to carry out targeted interventions also on previous levels of education to ease the transition. The findings from this second part-study revealed clear stereotyped gender perceptions and expectations among the educators the in upper secondary schools. This was especially troublesome in relation to the attribution of success. Girls were perceived as succeeding academically due to their effort and boys due to their ability. Thus, the girls were described as diligent, yet anxious, and the boys as lazy and indifferent about school. These findings are worrying on several levels. Firstly, they show that despite all the efforts to decrease gender inequality at school, gender roles are still reinforced via biased perceptions and expectations. Secondly, the support provided for the students may not be adequate when students are perceived through gendered lenses. This can have aggravating effects on the transition to and the studying in higher education since gendered perceptions affect self-belief and aspirations. Hence, this second part-study indicated that to provide all students with adequate support and guidance, these gendered perceptions and expectations need to be acknowledged and rectified. The third part-study (Article III) focused on analysing the effects of an intervention for first-year university students aimed at supporting their transition to higher education. The students participated in a compulsory workshop on study strategies during their first semester in higher education and reflected on their learning strategies in reflective journals. The aim of this part-study was to explore how the students perceived the workshop and thereby provide an example of how students can be supported during their first year in higher education, to enhance study progress, retention and finally graduation. The findings of this third part-study showed that small measures for first-year higher education students can have a major impact on students’ transition. When students became aware of their study strategies and what affected them, they were able to make changes that were needed for a smoother study path. This third part-study also showed the importance of the workshops for the students' emotional regulation when the students could reflect on their study habits, as well as to receive and to give peer support, in a safe environment. Thus, the findings indicated that interventions offered to first-year university students can enhance their self-belief and academic competence by providing tools and strategies for the adaptation to the demands of higher education. By supporting students’ self-awareness, they can identify the strategies that benefit them the most. This dissertation adds to the research field by implementing theory into practice via the recognition of students’ own perceptions of their study habits and by empowering their agency beliefs in their own studying. The findings of this dissertation show that interventions that support students’ self-efficacy beliefs, self-regulated learning skills and regulation of academic emotions ought to be a part of the introduction to higher education. Moreover, this dissertation shows a need for an explicit focus on gender equality in teacher education and in in-service training for teachers. The awareness of stereotyping and its reproduction of rigid gender roles needs be brought to the attention of all educators from early childhood education onward. Studying in higher education requires a variety of study skills and first-year students would benefit from being able to practise and acquire these skills in the first year of higher education and not to be expected to develop these skills on their own outside the university context. Thus, by acknowledging the challenges many students encounter in the transition to higher education and by normalising feelings of insecurity, students’ stress levels and feelings of inadequacy can be reduced and therefore their wellbeing enhanced. How to meet students’ challenges during first year in higher education would also be useful to be implemented even stronger in university pedagogy and university teaching. Keywords: transition to higher education, self-regulated learning, self-efficacy, academic emotions, intervention, gender
  • Saarinen, Auli (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    An ePortfolio is an evolving electronic resource that acts to record and store the artefacts of learning and reflections for an individual learner. It may reflect the progression of a student’s learning process, or it can testify the level reached. This thesis analyzed the longitudinal use of an electronic portfolio in craft studies for a period of six years (2013-19). The Educational Design Research (EDR) was implemented in three parts containing year-long iterations. The students (ages 9 to 14 years) traced their craft process activities by photos, narratives, recordings and assessment assignments. In the first study, the functions, and the benefits of the ePortfolio method were emphasized and general user experiences based on pupil interviews (N=38) were outlined. The results indicated that an ePortfolio (realized through the iPad application, Book Creator) is a workable method in craft education. The identified key functions were collection and management of information, communication, and verification of development. The experienced benefits were related to supporting the working process: memory, understanding and activities. In the second study the data comprised of the textual and visual content of the students’ (N= 38) ePortfolios. The results indicated that the most emphasized areas in the textual and visual content of students’ ePortfolios were a combination of the process and free learning reflection. The results confirmed that if ePortfolios are used in a flexible way with open assignments, variations on use and the end-product are self-evident. In the third study the data contained a six-year-long tracing of learning and the final interviews (N=8). The interview focused on students’ experiences of the eportfolio method and its development. The longitudinal textual content was conceptualized by applying Anderson and Krathwohl’s “Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, and Assessing”. The results indicated that the students’ knowledge type was transformed from versatile to a more limited, and cognitive process levels were transformed from concrete to a more abstract level. The interview data confirmed the findings. Suggested improvements were technical and platform issues, and practical functionalities. The implications drawn were linked with the ePortfolio’s pedagogical foundation and the development of the method. Diverse functions and benefits helped provide the answer to the main research question of the ePortfolios’ pedagogical dimensions: memory and communication support, learner-centered activity to consolidate the ownership of the learning process, and the versatile use of technological tools to train ICT skills, as well as more general skills. The long-term progress showed the transformation of knowledge type and cognitive process, and that the model of progress in ePortfolio usage simulates development.
  • Luodeslampi, Juha (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    The character of religious education was widely discussed during the planning stage of comprehensive school in the late 1960s and in the early 1970s. This study aims at adding the teachers’ own voice to the overall view. Its main question is what shared issues there were in the career trajectories of RE teachers born in the 1930s at the outset of comprehensive school. This study examines the career trajectories of the Finnish Religious Education (RE) teachers via an autobiographical retrospective approach and via archival materials from the aforementioned decades. The research data consists of retrospective narratives written by now-retired Finnish RE teachers born in the 1930s (N = 62). The data was collected in 2011 and analyzed with methods of qualitative content analysis. The first part of the study asks what important aspects teachers promoted when the new school system was born and what kind of an overall picture could be illustrated. The second one asks what kind of challenges RE teachers faced and solved. The third one is about the relationship between one’s reli-gious background and professionality in career trajectories while the fourth one is centered on RE teachers’ career orientations. According to these studies, the confessionality of RE was the major concern for teachers. They started to defend it and initiated a strong focus on pedagogical development in their work as a response for the societal demands and challenges that they faced as far as RE as a subject was concerned. Most of the teachers had been affiliated with the revivalist movements in some point of their life but they kept their personal religious life distinctively apart from their professional role as teachers. The fourth article represents four examples of the teachers’ ways to tell about their respective career trajectories including religious aspects, youth support, pedagogical development, and political activities in associations. Together, these four articles state that teachers have perceived their subject as a very special and valuable one while finding it notably challenged by political discussions. They defended it mostly by developing their pedagogical abilities and related instruction. They started to develop pedagogy, professional skills, and learning material in order to prove their high level of competence and professionality as well as the equally high quality of the teaching materials and subject contents to show in so doing that RE brought as valuable a contribution to the curriculum and to general education as the other subjects did.

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