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  • Mattsson , Markus (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    In this Master s thesis I examine the measurement invariance of the Driver Behavior Questionnaire (DBQ), the perhaps most widely used questionnaire instrument in traffic psychology, across samples of Finnish and Irish young drivers (18 - 25 years of age). The DBQ was developed in the beginning of the 1990s based on principal component analyses. The questionnaire was originally based on a well-tested theory in cognitive ergonomics (the Generic Error Modeling System, GEMS), but in the research that has ensued, the item pool and the factor structure has been determined in an exploratory fashion. This has resulted in an abundance of DBQ versions, which comprise anything from nine to over one hundred items and from one to seven factors. Further, in research articles based on the DBQ, it is a common practice to calculate sum or average scores and compare them across subgroups of respondents. The 28-item version of questionnaire, which is currently perhaps most widely used, is thought to measure two, three or four latent variables. In this thesis I use confirmatory factor analysis and, specifically, analysis of measurement invariance to examine which of the three alternative factor structures functions as the most fitting description of the responses of Finnish and Irish young drivers. The analysis of measurement invariance is based on fitting a series of increasingly restrictive models to data. At each stage of the analysis, an increasing set of parameters are constrained to equality across the samples under comparison. In case the constrained model does not fit the data worse than the unconstrained model, the constrained model can be applied in all (in this thesis both) data sets. The models that are fit to data are, in order: 1) The configural model in which only the number of factors is constrained, 2) the weak invariance model, in which factor loadings are constrained to equality, 3) the strong invariance model, in which also the intercept terms of each item are constrained to equality and 4) the strict invariance model, in which also the error terms of each item are constrained to equality. In addition, models of partial invariance are applied. In these models, only some of the constraints related to each stage of the analysis are preserved. In addition to comparing the models statistically, their fit to data is examined using various descriptive statistics and graphical representations. As a central result I propose that the four-factor model offers the best fit to both data sets, even though the model needs to be modified in an exploratory mode of analysis to ensure sufficient fit to data. Further analyses show that two of the four factors are different in nature in the two samples and that only in the Irish data set do all of the items load on the factors they are expected to. On the other hand, the analysis of the other two factors shows that the items that load on them are interpreted essentially similarly in the two samples and that weak invariance can be assumed on their part. In addition, partial strong invariance can be assumed in the case of one factor, even though even then the values of most of the intercept terms need to be freely estimated in the two data sets. As a conclusion I suggest that, in contrast to the prevailing practice, comparing sum scores based on DBQ factors is dubious and that comparing latent variables scores may be justified only in the case of one factor out of four. As a practical recommendation, I suggest that the factor structure of the DBQ be further developed based on theories of cognitive ergonomics and cognitive psychology and that invariance analyses be performed as a matter of routine before carrying out comparisons of groups based on results of factor analyses.
  • Kilpinen, Raija (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    The purpose of the research was to give a micro level perspective to joy of learning. In the theoretical part of the research I study the concepts of learning, emotion and joy of learning. Learning is seen in this research as a social action. The research problem was: In what kind of situations is joy of learning visible in the video material of the high school students’ school day? The research material of the first grade high school students was recorded in a high school during three days. I analyzed the material with the help of conversation analysis, which gave tools for the detailed processing of the material. For the analysis, I chose interaction situations in which there was initial evidence of joy of learning. The choice criterions were laughter, vocal pitch, volume, prosody, facial expressions and gestures. The analysis shows that joy of learning was visible during the school day. In the classroom, the students expressed their emotion less intense than outside of the classroom, although the topics of the interaction situations were the same.
  • Tähtinen, Minni (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    This thesis analyses how young, blogging girls see and experience commercialism in blo-gosphere. My aim is to find out what kind of consumers these girls are and which qualities are typical among them. Do thes girls feel that blogs have the possibilty to have an influence on other peoples consuming and does commercialism have some kind of role in their blogs. The-re are some previous studies about adults and older adolescents and their roles in finnish blo-gosphere and that is why this study concentrates on 13¬–15 year old girls. The theoretical background of this thesis is based on consuming, social media and commercialism on internet and blogs. The data of this study was collected from 13–15 year old girls who write blogs quite reguralry. They (N=17) answered to five different open questions and were able to see all the other girls’ answers and comment on them. Beside this data I also used some blogs and blogposts that these same girls have written. This is a qualitative study that was analysed with the following methods: qualitative content analysis, themes and types. In the analysis I introduce some common thoughts and thoughts that vary from other answers. I have created three different types of a young, blogging girl. These types can be used when constructing curriculas and lessonplans especially in home economics classes These girls’ thougts about consuming do vary quite a bit according to my data. Their wish to be a critical consumer came up in many answers and some of them were able to show some qualities of critical consuming in their answers. These girls were also able to find some factors that have an influence on their consuming in social media. They had different opinions regar-ding the commercialism of the blogosphere. It is a common thought that their own blogs have some forms of commercialism in them even though they don’t have any official co-operation with any companys. Their thoughts of commercialism in social media were very mature.
  • Pesälä, Juuso (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    This study aimed at providing additional information about the effects of gender and the education level of parents to a child's school performance. On the basis of previous research, it was known that in the Western countries the school performance of girls is somewhat better than boys. It was also known that parental education predicts children's school performance. The study aimed to find mediating factors which could explain the effect of these variables. The data used in this study was part of a follow-up study which is collected by the Finnish Centre for Educational Assessment. It contained quite a large (N 1606-2316) set of data, where one age-group of primal school students in the city of Vantaa was measured - in 6th grade, 9th grade and in secondary school. At each time of measurement, information about the participants’ school performance was collected. Participants' cognitive performance was measured, and they were also asked about lifestyle, and about their methods of study. According to the results of this study, the effect of gender and parents' education to the children’s educational performance is at the same level as international studies have reported. The effect of gender was mediated by certain motivational factors. It was possible to explain the whole effect of gender by motivational factors. The effect of parental education was mediated by the cognitive performance of the participants. In general, this study confirms earlier observations about the subject, but it also provides some new information. In particular, the link between student's gender and motivational factors is interesting. It might provide a useful starting point for future studies, and it may direct research towards more detailed knowledge of school motivation. It seems that the effect of parental education was mediated by the cognitive performance of the participants. However, the details of this effect remain largely unknown.
  • Kattelus, Enni (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    Objectives. Narrative means a way of report, understand and structure a lived experience. It is an important mean of self-expression and interaction and people use it to share information with each other. The ability to narrate appears when child becomes an active participant in fan-tasies, stories and actions related to himself. Children with speaking disabilities often use com-munication books or other equipment as an alternative or augmentative mean of communica-tion. Their possibilities to narrate can be more limited than speaking children, due to several reasons. This study describes the characteristics of augmented narratives that are formed with communication books. This study also describes how the characteristics of narratives differ when the elicitation method is changed. Also the role of communication partner and communi-cation aid is discussed. Methods. Study consists of two physically disabled 13 to 16-year old boys who used communication books as a alternative mean of their communication. The research material was gathered during the spring of 2014. The material consists of video recordings of examinees performing three kinds of narrative assignments. The video material was transcribed and analyzed quantitatively and qualitatively in the contexts set by the research questions. Results and conclusions. Macrostructure of the narratives produced by communication book varied. Most diverse narratives filled the characteristics of a perfect narrative whereas the most compact narratives mainly focused on describing individual events. The narratives were mainly short and use of grammatical function words was scarce. Expressions of cohesion was mainly scarce and monotonous as its best. Narratives of children communicating by AAC-means differ from ones of children developing normally and expressing themselves with speech especially on microstructures’ behalf. These results support and complement previous research. Further research is important to achieve a sufficient perception of particularities of augmented narra-tives so that the communication aids can be developed to better support the language develop-ment and expressional needs of these children.
  • Nuutinen, Johanna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    The main purpose of this study was to find out what kind of means the home economic teachers use to ease pupils who need support in the learning process. The goal of this study was learn how information of the support needed was transferred to teacher and to learn what kind of additional resources are available. In addition, this study focuses on teachers’ reactions to integrate the pupils in a normal teaching situation. Also this study focuses on tools that teacher education offers to meet pupils needing special support. The data for the qualitative study were collected during the spring 2014 in two separate stag-es: by collecting critical incidents and semi-structured interviews. The data were collected by discretionary sampling. Ten home economics teachers working in Pirkanmaa and Uudenmaa region took part in this study. The data were analyzed by qualitative content analysis. According to the main outcome, pupils are heterogeneous groups and the need for support varies from minor to major. The main problems areas for pupils according to teachers are learning and behavioral problems. Also social and psychological problems have increased. The information of support needed among new students was transferred from class teacher to home economics teacher but in some cases the need for support was noticed during clas-ses. Teachers have several means to support pupils’ learning. For example, the teachers used demonstrative means, graphic guidance and they split working stages into smaller de-tails. Sometimes it was also possible to get a supportive person into the classroom. The teachers used more time and effort to evaluate the pupils in need of assistance and assigned more practical tasks for them. The communication between teacher and parent is very im-portant according to the interviewees. The idea of integration of the pupils needing support into the normal teaching program is good, but to bring this into practice is challenging. According to the teachers their education did not give them the tools needed in teaching special pupils. Many teachers would like to have more practical guidance to support their teaching methods. Hopefully the findings of this study will raise discussion and help the newly graduated home economics teachers to meet special pupils at their work in the future.
  • Pääkkönen, Siiri (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    Aim of the study. The fundamental frequency of speech (f0), the fundamental frequency minimum and maximum (f0min-f0max) and the vowel formant frequencies (F1-F3) are acoustical elements that make the difference between the voice of a man and a woman. Making a solid judgment of ones gender based on his/hers voice is not easy, but based on the acoustical elements mentioned above it can be judged quite reliably. F0 is considered to be the best acoustical element in making gender judgments, but also F1-F3 and f0max-f0min have been proven to be important. No Finnish research has been made. The aim of this study was to gather data about acoustical properties (f0, f0min-f0max, F1-F3) of voice and investigate the correlation between the acoustical properties and perceived gender and voice femininity or masculinity. This study investigated also did the subjective evaluations and the listeners evaluations differ from each other. Methods. Ten female, nine men, three male-to-female transgender people and two female-to-male transgender people participated as speakers in this study. They evaluated subjectively did their voice sound like male or female and how feminine or masculine it sounded on a VAS scale. They also gave prolonged vowel, reading and spontaneous speech samples that were acoustically analysed. The vowels /a/, /i/ and /u/ and two read sentences were collected into a listening test that was held for 25 people performing as listeners. They evaluated on a separate forms did the voice sound like male or female and how feminine or masculine it sounded on a VAS scale. Results. The men of this research had the lowest and the women the highest acoustical properties of voice (f0, f0min-max, F1-F3). Between all of the acoustical properties (except /i/ F2) of voice and evaluation of gender and voice masculinity or femininity there were statistically significant or very significant strong or very strong correlation. When the fundamental frequency was 153–244 Hz, the fundamental frequency minimum was 68–137 Hz and maximum was 233–359 Hz the voice was evaluated more often (over 50 % of the evaluations) as female voice and feminine. Also the higher the vowel formant frequencies were the more often the voice was evaluated as female and feminine. The listeners evaluated the reading speech very differently than the speakers evaluated their own speech. With the women’s and men’s gender judgments there was almost a 100 % agreement, but this was not the case with the transgender people. The listeners evaluations of the voice femininity or masculinity differed most of the time (75 %) statistically significantly from the speakers own evaluations.
  • Niemi, Miia (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    Background and aim. Bilingualism is a worldwide and old phenomenon. It is also a current topic in speech therapy. Bilingualism can be defined in many ways, for example by the age when a person has been exposed to his/her languages. Bilingual children are common clients in Finnish speech therapy field due to increased immigration. When evaluating the linguistic skills of a bilingual child the speech therapist might need to co-operate with an interpreter. In this research the aim was to identify how the SLT’s feel the co-operance with the interpreters in evaluation situations. There is only few former studies about this subject, especially in Finland. Some studies have been made to examine the co-operation of the interpreter and another healthcare provider. In this study we also asked if there are some typical challenges in the co-operation and could something be done to develop this liaison. Methods. In this study 12 SLT’s were interviewed. They worked in the capital area of Finland. I contacted the leading SLT’s to recruit the examinees. The SLT’s had been working 2-34 years and they all had evaluated bilingual children in co-operation with an interpreter. The semistructured interview material was gathered and transcribed in the autumn 2014. After transcribing the material was separated into four main themes for reporting the results. Results and discussion. Co-operation between SLT and interpreter shows out to be working mainly fine. Typical challenge mentioned is for example achieving a natural interaction. There are still some lacks in the language skills of the interpreters and the SLT’s hope to develop the co-operation with a better guidance (also in the training program of logopedics) and diverse co-operation opportunities. The SLT’s seem to appreciate interpreters’ social skills, language proficiency, natural interaction with children and flexibility in diverse therapy situations.
  • Surakka, Susanna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    Target. There are currently few tools to evaluate young adults’ linguistic abilities in the Finnish language. Previous studies have shown that nonword repetition, sentence repetition and grammaticality judgment are typically weak functions in language impairment in some languages. The aim of this study was to create a tool for evaluating grammaticality judgment and pilot that tool. The assessment tool developed here is based on Poll, Betz and Miller’s (2010) study on identification of clinical markers of specific language impairment (SLI) in English-speaking adults. In addition, the studies of grammatical difficulties by Finnish-speaking children with specific language impairment were also considered when developing the new tool. Methods. Six young adults with the history of SLI and six young adults with typical language development, matched as closely as possible with the SLI persons, participated in this study. Participants were 19;2-20;8 years of age. This study started with creation of the new assessment tool. Data were then collected using the assessment tool. Altogether 108 sentences were created to evaluate grammaticality judgment. Out of these 50 sentences were translated from the study of English-speaking young adults, 48 sentences were created based on the studies of Finnish-speaking children having SLI and the remaining 10 sentences were training items. Participants listened to sentences and were asked to judge their grammaticality and by indicating whether the sentence was right or wrong. Data were analyzed mainly quantitatively due to the relatively small number of participants. Results and conclusions. The participants with SLI made more errors in this test than did their peers with typical language. However, the result was not found statistically significant. Participants with SLI also used more time running the test than their counterparts. SLI participants made most of the errors in sentences, which included accusative case or tense inflection. The results are similar to the study on English-speaking young adults. Therefore, examination on a larger test group is needed in the future.
  • Makkonen, Mira (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    Objective. Chronic stress is known to be a significant cause of disease incidence. The current study was set out to assess the relationship between innate temperament and vital exhaustion, a consequence of long-term stress. Previous studies have mostly focused on studying vital exhaustion in relation to cardiovascular disease. Among other things, vital exhaustion has been shown to be a precursor of myocardial infarction and has been associated with cardiovascular risk factors. Similarly, temperament traits have been linked to disorders and risk factors related to vital exhaustion. The direct evidence of the relationship between temperament and vital exhaustion is, however, limited. The aim of this study was to determine whether temperament, as defined by Buss and Plomin, predicts vital exhaustion. Methods. The sample consisted of 1132 adults participating in the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns (CRYF) Study. Temperament was measured in 2001 using the EAS temperament inventory. Vital exhaustion was measured in 2001 and in 2007 using the Maastricht Questionnaire. The associations between temperament traits and vital exhaustion were examined by linear regression analyses. All analyses were adjusted for the effect of gender, age, education level and marital status. In additional analyses, vital exhaustion in 2001 was further controlled when predicting vital exhaustion in 2007. Results and conclusions. Higher emotionality and lower sociability predicted higher vital exhaustion over a 6-year time interval. Lower activity also predicted higher vital exhaustion six years later, although it was not associated with vital exhaustion at baseline like the two other traits. As a whole, temperament independently explained very little of the variance in vital exhaustion when vital exhaustion at baseline was taken into account. The results suggest that temperament plays a more important role in explaining the level and stability of vital exhaustion than explaining the increase or decrease in it.
  • Värtö, Saara (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    Aims. The aim of my research was to study those teachers who have not undergone any teacher education and their thinking about teacher’s work. This phenomenon was chosen as the research subject because it has been studied very little compared to the research on regular teachers in Finnish schools. My research task was to study the thoughts on and experiences of working as a teacher and formal qualifications of teachers without teacher education. Moreover, the aim was to outline the teaching career of these teachers as well as their thoughts on and experiences of teacher education and professional development. Methods. The research was conducted through literature and through the narratives of six people who either are working or have been working as teachers without any teacher education. Three of these people worked as teachers without any teacher education at the time of the research whereas the other three had applied and been accepted into teacher education after having already worked as teachers. One of the latter had also already graduated with a certificate of education. This was a qualitative study and the data was gathered by doing theme interviews and analysed by using inductive qualitative analysis. Results and conclusions. Many similarities were found in the narratives of the interviewees and a more detailed examination of the themes revealed some outliers. The ways the interviewees had ended up working as teachers were very similar but their plans for the future differed. The thoughts on and experiences of working as a teacher were quite similar whereas formal qualifications elicited contradictory thoughts among the interviewees. Teacher education also divided their opinions. The interviewees who had undergone teacher education evaluated the effectiveness of the education in a similar manner. Nearly all the interviewees also criticised teacher education widely. The interviewees felt they had progressed in different areas during their career, even though most of them had not actively sought personal or professional development. Overall, the research elucidated a phenomenon that had been studied very little beforehand. It also revealed some important themes in education policy, which merit further study.
  • Lang, Camilla (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    This Master’s thesis addresses the challenges and opportunities faced by the aging and aged (45-64-year-olds), and offers suggestions for solutions for the situation in the Finnish labour market. The purpose of this thesis is to highlight and critical- ly evaluate those paradoxes in the working life, in which political aims and societal actions do not seem to meet with the actual situation in the labour market. These paradoxes are related to the themes of extending the length of careers, labour shortage and ageism. In Finland the topic has been widely discussed in the public domain because of the changing labour market and the difficult economic situation first during the depression in the early 90’s and now again after the recession between 2008 and 2009. The research data consists of columns published in the national newspaper Helsingin Sanomat from 2009 when the recessi- on ended until the research was conducted in 2014. The method of analysis is qualitative content analysis. All of the research questions used in the analysis were data-oriented. Age-related challenges in the working life are scru- tinised in the research through exploring working life systems, individual qualities and diversity in work communities. The suggestions for solutions are scrutinised from the perspectives of responsibility and tangible actions. The conclusions of this research suggest there are multiple problems and challenges related to the aging and the aged in the labour market in relation to recruiting and laying off employees, inflexibility of pension schemes and discriminatory attitu- des. On the other hand, there are also positive connotation with mature age such as work and life experience, flexibility and loyalty towards an employer. The suggestions for improvements highlight joint responsibility of the situation shared by political leaders, employer and the aging themselves. The suggestions also emphasise the importance of more flexible solu- tions for the working life and eliminating ageism. Overall, eliminating ageism in the working life is an complex issue as there are so many parties involved, it is difficult to locate and the experiences of discrimination vary. In any case, examining all the contradictions and paradoxes related to age and the working life and taking them apart makes it easier to relate the challenges the aging population faces and their possibilities in the labour market. By doing this it is possible to affect the actual situation in the labour market.
  • Karlsson, Kati (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    The aim of this study was to describe the experiences of the mentors of adult practical nurse students. The focus was on “how the mentors experience the process of on-the-job learning” and “how the mentors can support student’s professional growth during the on-the-job learning period”. The data of this study consist of 12 semi-structured interviews of mentors of adult practical nurse students. The interviews were first tape recorded and then transcribed verbatim. Mentors described mentoring of students’ as a process, that consist of elements such as mentor’s own perceptions of her role as a mentor, adult learner´s attitude towards learning, support of professional growth and the meaning of environment and support. The mentoring was seen as a process. Mentoring of an adult student was seen as a challenge but also as a chance because the adult learners do have plenty of experiences. Mentors pointed out various factors that have an effect on success of mentoring. Such factors were: mentors experience of their own role, students’ attitude towards learning and guidance, supporting professional growth and importance of working environment as well co-operation with educational institution. Mentors experience of being an expert of their own work was important as well to be able to adjust guidance in benefit of a student’s individual needs and goals. Adult learners were expected to take an active role of their own learning and to take benefit of their own experiences. Mentors did feel that they were responsible for students’ professional growth. Working environment end co-operation with educational institution had important role in successful guidance. Mentors opinion was that guidance during the work-place learning should be mainly emphasized on mentor and workplace. Co-operation with educational institution was considered important but mentors also felt that they are best experts of their own work. Mentors hoped and expected support, resources and respect to their mentoring. .
  • Astikainen, Heidi (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    Consumers are told to eat seasonally to reduce the environmental impacts of food. Finnish food culture has a long tradition of eating seasonally. Although, it seems that consumers perceptions of the seasons of food products have disappeared due to the wide variation of groceries and changes in lifestyle. The aim of this study is to find out the perceptions of seasonal food of one consumer group, university students. The more detailed aims are to find out university students` perceptions of seasonal food, how do students see seasonal eating as a part of environmentally friendly choices and do students consider seasons of the food products when choosing food. The data for the study were collected from students studying at University of Helsinki with a web-based questionnaire in December 2014. There were all together 401 respondents, and they came from all faculties. 339 of the respondents were women and 62 of them were men. The age varied from 19 years old to 59 years old and the average age was 27. Both quantitative and qualitative data were gathered with the questionnaire. The quantitative data were analyzed statistically using cross tabulation and Khii square test, independent groups t-test, one way analysis of variance and Tukey´s test, and Spearman´s correlation. The qualitative data from open questions were categorized and the frequencies of categories were counted. Students were familiar with the term seasonal food. The most frequently named seasonal foods were vegetables, berries and fruits. Meanings related to food availability, production and cultural traditions were most common for the seasonal food concept. Most of the respondents were considering seasons of the food products when choosing food. Students seemed to recognize the role of eating seasonally in reducing the environmental impacts associated with food. Cheaper price, better taste and quality and the variety they brought to the diet were most mentioned reasons to eat seasonally. Students who did not eat seasonally mentioned the lack of information as the biggest reasons not to do so. There should be a clear definition of seasonal food in order to guide consumers to eat seasonally. Consumers` perceptions could be useful when building these definitions. More information about seasonal foods should be available and seasonality should be more clearly seen in supermarkets. Even though eating seasonally would not have huge impact on reducing the environmental impacts of food production and consumption, it could be the first and quite easy step towards more sustainable eating. It could also provide a way to get people to pay more attention towards food they are eating.
  • Pickering, Anna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    Aims. The purpose of this study was to show in what ways a school task is carried out in interaction. The task in question was giving a presentation in an upper secondary school Finnish lesson on an elective topic. The theoretical framework used was learning as changes in participation. Previous research has tracked various changes in participation longitudinally, i.e. across several conversations. In such studies, learning is indicated by changes in repair type, in use of learning objects, and in epistemic stance and topicalization of epistemic stance. Although these by themselves cannot be considered evidence of learning, they show what kind of contingent practices of understanding are used to accomplish the task. This is known as doing learning. Previous research has often focused on second language learning, but rarely on first language learning. Neither has the accomplishment of one task across several days been much researched. For these reasons, the accomplishment of one school task longitudinally in the context of first language learning was chosen as the focus of the current study. The research question is: How is a school task accomplished in interaction? Methods. The data were a set of videos originally recorded for the Språkmöten project. One sixth-form student is followed by a video camera for three days during both classes and recess. From the videos, I chose the parts in which the presentation for the Finnish lesson is discussed. I analyzed them using conversation analysis. Results and conclusion. I demonstrated empirically how the different phases of the presentation task fit together. I showed that doing the task involves a lot of intertwined telling and negotiation. “Doing learning” could be seen in the explicit, longitudinal orientation towards change: in this way, the presentation task was taken forward and accomplished. The data showed how the understanding of the presentation task developed. They also showed how the requirements of the school on the one hand, and the students’ own ideas on the other, were integrated into the process. The showing of affect (i.e. emotions) was demonstrated to be part of “doing learning”. The results help us to understand learning outside the classroom and school enjoyment. In further studies, the same methods may be applied to explore tasks in interaction in other contexts, e.g. universities and workplaces.
  • Viitala, Sini (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    Small group size is considered to be the best option for groups of children under three years old. More and more children in day care centers also spend time in small groups. Small group activities are seen as a structural solution of the challenges the large daycare groups face. The new Early Childhood Education Law will require the wellbeing of children to be taken better into consideration when forming daycare groups in the future. The purpose of this study was to examine the toddlers parents and educators conceptions of group size as well as issues related to small-group activities and the concept of primary nursing in daycare under the age of three. The aim was to find out how small group activities and the use of primary nursing is justified and how these arguments reflect the quality of early childhood education in the groups of children under three years of age. This is a qualitative research using theme interviews as the research method. The study includes interviews of nine educators working at a day care center in groups of children under the age of three and interviews of three parents who had their toddler in day care treatment. The results of the survey suggest that groups at toddler day care treatment are formed primarily on the basis of structural factors, even though the children would benefit more if their needs and pedagogical perspectives would be taken into consideration. However when forming small groups the pedagogical and individual needs of the children were given more weight, though structural factors played a significant role as well. The study suggests that parents will appreciate the small treatment groups. Similarly, the educators in day care centers consider the small groups facilitating the implementation of high-quality early childhood education.
  • Rapala, Emma (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    The purpose of this study was to examine the experiences of three Finnish volunteer teachers in developing countries. Specific point of interest was to understand the functions of volunteer learning experiences in developing teacher identities. The objective of the study is to understand the possibilities of personal and professional growth that international volunteer teaching can provide. In this study, identity was seen as socially constructed narratives (Sfard & Prusak 2005). Learning was considered the bridge between actual and designated teacher identities. Teachers’ professional growth was seen as interplay between developing the teacher’s personal identity, professional identity and collective identity (Heikkinen 2001). This study follows constructivist theories’ conception of knowledge as socially and subjectively constructed. A narrative approach defines the study as a whole. The research method applied was a combination of autobiographical narrative interview (Schütze 2005) and a semi-structured interview. The subjects were three Finnish teachers who all had taken part in an international volunteering program for six months. The collected data was analysed using Polkinghorne’s (2005) analysis of narratives and narrative analysis. Analysis of narratives was utilised in categorizing the teachers’ learning experiences. Narrative analysis then was applied to construct a new narrative: a typical story of the functions of international volunteering in teacher identity development. The teachers’ learning experiences through volunteering were substantial and strongly linked to the teacher’s personal background. The learning experiences were categorized as follows: 1) adapting in a new country, 2) working in the school community, 3) facing challenging situations in teaching and 4) cultural encounters. All categories except for the first one were linked to teacher identity development in the teachers’ narratives. Learning experiences were utilized in two ways: realizing designated identities and creating new ones. International volunteering can support teachers’ professional growth, but learning experiences are not linked to professional identities automatically without reflection. For the organizations providing international volunteering opportunities, it is important to indentify the reflexive nature of volunteering and be organized in guiding teachers to reflect their experiences.
  • Mattila, Satu (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    Purpose. The purpose of this study is to describe the factors that influence junior high age young people as they connect with friends and peer groups, especially from the view of a student who is somehow distinct from the group. The term somehow distinct is used to encompass the wide variety of factors that may influence an adolescent who is left to the fringes or totally outside of a peer group. As inclusion and multiculturalism increases in schools it is important to understand adolescent belief and value systems in order to create an atmosphere that is open to diversity and strengthens peer relationships at school. This study examines short essays by young people on the subject of being an outsider to their peer groups and the preconditions and terms of friendships. In addition, what circumstances support or prevent the ability to join a group and form friendships. In past years this topic has been researched from the point of view of the experiences of special needs students and of general adolescent peer relations. (Ellonen, 2008; Hoikkala & Paju 2013; Korkiamäki, 2014; Koster, Nakken , Pijl & van Houten 2009; Saarinen 2012). In this work the angle of approach is the thoughts and feelings that the somehow distinct adolescent brings out in the peers representing the majority of the group and how to support him/her in order to get to join the group and how to strengthen his/her social competence. Methods. For this study, data was collected from two secondary schools. The students were selected from one class at each school and a total of 49 students returned write-ups. Essays were prompted by four questions about what it means to be an outsider, what factors lead to being outside of the group and the conditions for the process of forming peer relations. Student essays were transcribed and sorted by theme. Themes that emerged were then interpreted by using content analysis. Results and conclusions. The research highlighted the challenges that diversity poses in adolescent groups. Young people looked for direction from adults and guidance in situations where someone was outside of the group. They also brought forth ideas how the social competence of a young person distinct from the group could be supported. Group dynamics and general social climate in the classroom seemed to influence how diversity was handled. There were subtle differences between boys and girls as far as what components supported and what prevented the forming of peer relations. Girls were especially influenced by outward appearances and favored the opinions of girls high up in the class social hierarchy as to who should be accepted in the group. Boys’ ability to form peer relations were supported more by social skills and mutual conversation topics and hobbies.
  • Tulensalo, Liisa (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    Aims: The etiology of mental disorders in childhood is still partially unknown. In the last decades researchers have started to study the role of prenatal factors, for example maternal prenatal anxiety symptoms, on child psychological symptoms. In most previous studies prenatal anxiety has been studied as a part of stress and together with depression, so studies concerning particularly its association on child psychological symptoms are still rare. In this study we examine if maternal prenatal anxiety in different trimesters is related to child internalizing, externalizing and total problems at the age of 1 to 5 and does the timing of the prenatal anxiety symptoms matter to child symptoms. We also study if maternal postnatal anxiety mediates the association between prenatal anxiety and child psychological symptoms, and if there are differences between genders within these associations. Methods: This study is a part of the multi-disciplinary Prediction and Prevention of Pre-eclampsia (PREDO) -study’s psychological branch. The sample size of the current study was 1962. Maternal pre- and postnatal anxiety symptoms were assessed with the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) self-report questionnaire four times during pregnancy and when the child was 1 to 5 years old. Paternal anxiety symptoms were also collected with BAI six months after birth. Child’s internalizing, externalizing and total problems at the age of 1 to 5 were assessed with The Child Behavior Checklist 11⁄2–5 - questionnaire rated by the mother. The associations were investigated using linear regression analysis, controlling for postnatal maternal and paternal anxiety symptoms, many sociodemographic factors and other factors associated with fetal development. Results and conclusions: Results indicated that higher maternal prenatal anxiety symptoms were associated with elevated internalizing, externalizing and total problems in the children. High anxiety symptoms especially during the last pregnancy trimester were essential considering child psychological symptoms. Moreover, although maternal postnatal anxiety symptoms partially mediated the association between maternal prenatal anxiety and child psychological symptoms, prenatal anxiety also had independent effects on psychological symptoms in the children. There were also differences between genders, since maternal prenatal anxiety during the first trimester appeared to be particularly important for boys’ psychological symptoms. Results provide strong evidence that prenatal anxiety has a direct, independent effect on child’s psychological symptoms and support the notion indicating that the fetal environmental factors have impact on child’s development.
  • Juurikkala, Katariina (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    Aims. The purpose of this study is to explore, interpret and describe Ghanaian home economics education. The data for the study were collected during my university exchange in Ghana in the spring 2014. The theoretical background focuses on learning and teaching and cultural relatedness in those two phenomena. It also sets Ghana in the context of Sub-Saharan Africa with the focus on Ghanaian education. This study describes the contents and the implementations of home economics education through a cultural perspective. Methods. The data were collected using three different methods. It consists of interviews of three local home economics teachers and a learning assignment for 22 pupils which was implemented in a home economics class. Also, the data were produced by observing home economics classes in two different junior high schools for six weeks. The data were analyzed with qualitative content analysis. Results and conclusions. According to the study, home economics appeared as a subject that increases well-being. From the teachers’ point of view home economics has far-reaching impacts for pupils’ futures. The teachers had an urge to make pupils learn. The role of a teacher was significant in the classes and the interaction between pupils and teacher quite one-sided. The inadequate resources for teaching made it difficult to teach with diverse teaching methods. The results of the learning assignment reflected the contents and the implementations of home economics education. The answers were many-sided but less creative. Culture was strongly present in everything. The study does not qualify for broad generalizations about Ghanaian home economics education. However, culture and its impacts on teaching and learning are important to take into consideration in every educational context.