From the start, the reform of student admissions for Finnish universities and higher education institutions in 2018 has elicited considerable public criticism and discussion. The reform was based on the objective of accelerating the transition of adolescents from general upper secondary school to higher education, as well as strengthening the status of the matriculation examination as the endpoint of general education for adolescents. However, the reform was carried out mostly without consulting general upper secondary schools, which may be one reason for the critical reception alongside the emphasis on the advanced syllabus in mathematics in general upper secondary school. The reform, which was perceived to have been imposed from above, also appears to have obscured the many deficiencies of the previous admissions based on entrance examinations.
The project delved into the effects of the reform specifically from the perspective of general upper secondary schools and their students. The principal research question was how the admissions reform has affected students’ choice of courses and subject-specific tests completed in the matriculation examination as well as their wellbeing and future plans. At the same time, the aim was to determine how general upper secondary school teachers as well as guidance counsellors in general upper secondary school and basic education perceive the impact of the reform on adolescents’ choice of general upper secondary school and on their progress in studies at this level. The project also assessed, in light of research literature, the nature of the Finnish matriculation examination as part of the establishment of educational career paths in relation to corresponding qualifications in other Western countries.
For the benefit of education policy decision-making, the project provided up-to-date information on the effects of the student admissions reform of 2018 on general upper secondary school students’ study progress, course choices and matriculation examination test choices, as well as their wellbeing and their future plans. In addition, the research provided information on the views of general upper secondary school teachers, guidance counsellors and principals on the reform and its impact on the quality and scope of the education provided, as well as on student wellbeing and potential burnout on the other. In addition to these, the prior research collected in connection with the project will provide comparable information on the nature of the final examinations in upper secondary education in Finland and other countries as well as their impact on and utilisation in the student admissions for higher education.
The project received funding from the Finnish government.
The DigiVOO research project, a consortium formed by Tampere University and the University of Helsinki, investigated the impact of digitalisation on learning, learning situations and learning outcomes of lower secondary school students. The research was implemented as an evaluation by the Ministry of Education and Culture.
In order to assess the effects of digitalisation, the data collected by the Centre for Educational Assessment CEA since 2001 was combined with the new data and the results were be compared with the national data. In addition, log data were also analysed and students were interviewed.
The nationwide study examines how the COVID-19 situation has affected children's education, the work of all those involved in school-related activities and the well-being of families. The aims of the study are to provide an overall picture of the impact of exceptional circumstances on school attendance and to collect information in preparation for the next school year.
Data were collected in May through electronic surveys that were distributed to the rectors of all Finnish basic education schools, teachers, members of student welfare services and other people working with students in the schools, 4th to 10th grade students and parents or guardians of the 1st to 10th grade students. The school situation will continue to be monitored during the 2020‒2021 school year.
The study is carried out in collaboration with the Research Group for Education, Assessment and Learning (REAL, Tampere University), the Research Group on Children’s and Adolescents’ Health Promotion (NEDIS, Tampere University) and the Centre for Educational Assessment (CEA, University of Helsinki). The research is funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture.
The #newschool project was part of the New Comprehensive Education programme. The programme's aim was to support student-centeredness of comprehensive schools, increase teachers’ skills, and strengthen open and community-oriented school culture. As part of the #newschool project in 16 municipalities, process training was organised for the leadership teams of schools in the area in order to develop interactive school culture and leadership. University of Helsinki Centre for Educational Assessment participated in the #newschool project by producing research-based knowledge to support the development of leadership-team work. The research mapped the leadership structures of comprehensive schools participating in the project. The research focused particularly on examining leadership teams and interaction between leadership teams and school communities.
In the project Powerhouse of Guidance (Vetovoimala), the usability of two different assessment tools for measuring students’ functional capacity was investigated together with Luovi Vocational College, Valteri Centre for Learning and Consulting as well as Helsinki Vocational College. A nationwide operating model was developed for transitions from the upper comprehensive school to upper secondary level for students who need special education or intensified special. The project was executed years 2018–2020.
The longitudinal research project MetrOP (Educational Outcomes and Health of Children in the Differentiating Helsinki Metropolitan Area) centred on the learning and wellbeing of the adolescents in the 14 municipalities of the Helsinki Metropolitan Region. Over 8 000 7th graders participated in the study in its 1st stage in 2010. More recently, majority of these pupils have now continued with their studies in high school or vocational schooling. The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Helsinki, the Finnish National Board of Education, the University of Tampere, and the National institute for Health and Welfare.
In autumn 2018 the Centre for Educational Assessment carried out a survey on the functionality of the support of development, learning and studying in the City of Vantaa. The survey focused on mapping out the implementation, appropriateness and sufficiency of support in early childhood education and pre-primary education, in Finnish- and Swedish-language basic education and vocational education.
Read more about the survey here (in Finnish only).
The crucial question in today’s global educational and labour policy was what kind of information and compentencies do the young people get from school and what were the new skills/competencies the labour market expects from them. CEA took part in a comparative research project “Key Competencies in Contemporary School: Curriculum and New Educational Practice”. The project was led by professor Isak Froumin from the Higher School of Economics (HSE). In addition to the University of Helsinki, other educational institutes were involved: from Russia, Poland, England, USA, Canada, South Korea and China.
The aim of the investigation was to create (local) descriptions about how the 21st century key competencies can be seen in the schools in different countries. In Finland the focus was on the data of the basics of the curriculum of the year 2014 and the information concerning its’ introduction.
The Educational Department of Vantaa ordered a follow -up for the digital learning project for the years 2015-2018 (the former name The tablets in Vantaa: new joy and interest in learning). The aim of the study was to survey the use of digital equipment in pre- and basic education and on the second grade and to investigate its’ connection to learning and motivation.
During the spring of 2017 CEA took part in a comparative study of four countries organized from Japan. The study was led by the research unit of the Japanese Benesse trust (BERD). The targets were the parents’ outlooks and practices in upbringing of children in nursery age and how the parents see themselves as parents and educators. The international report was completed during the spring 2018 and the report based on the enlarged, Finnish data will be released at the end of 2018. CEA and Benesse worked together already in 2008 in the research project “International Survey of Six Cities”. This survey clarified school children's attitudes towards learning.
The government funded the Support in learning -project which clarifies the materializing a child's or a pupil's right to support in early childhood education and in pre- and basic education. The study lasted until the pupils have moved on to the second grade.
The study was completed in the end of September 2018 in collaboration of the CEA researchers and the educational researchers in the University of Tampere.
The several languages and religions in school –project produced and spread as versatile data as possible about the need for teacher resources in different school forms. In this context the focus was on minority mother tongues and religions as well as Finnish or Swedish as the second language. During the study the researchers found current, research based and functional models in the education of these languages and religions. The researchers seeked and examined information of educational resources and pedagogical practices in early childhood education, pre- and basic education, vocational education, upper secondary school, teacher education and updating training. Free, ethically high standard of interaction was emphasized between researchers and organizers of education on all phases of the project.
Centre for Educational Assessment CEA and Spanish CARSA (Consultores de Automatización y Robótica, S.A.) worked together from October 2017 to April 2018 in a project financed by European Commission’s Joint Research Center: Evidence of Innovative Assessment (EvIA): Literature review and case studies (EvIA). The cooperation lasted from October 2017 to April 2018. CEA’s part in the project was to prepare a literacy survey clarifying innovative assessment and to write a synthesis of the whole material.