3rd BeSP Symposium
  • Professor Christa Fouché, The University of Auckland
  • Professor Ilse Julkunen, University of Helsinki
  • PhD, Docent Keegan Knittle, University of Helsinki
  • PhD Heidi Muurinen, University of Helsinki
  • Adjunct Professor Aino Kääriäinen, University of Helsinki
  • Professor Antti Malmivaara, National Institute for Health and Welfare
  • Professor Taru Lintunen, University of Jyväskylä
  • B.Soc.Sc. Lari Hokkanen, Demos Helsinki


Professor Christa Fouché, The University of Auckland

Christa Fouché is a Professor of Social Work at the University of Auckland and Director of a Centre for Community Research and Evaluation, which builds evidence of promising practices in communities through affirming partnerships. Christa has a joint appointment in the University’s Office of Research Strategy and Integrity where she is involved in the development of strategic research initiatives and researcher development opportunities across the University. She is passionate about supporting researchers to do practice-relevant research that makes a difference to communities.

Results to Practice: Navigating Complexities to Create Meaningful Impact

The impetus to ensure that research findings make their way to better services is nothing new. In fact, the importance of linking research findings to improve services, and the most effective ways to do that, have been debated in the literature for decades. Resources relating to knowledge translation, mobilisation, exchange, and dissemination to assist various stakeholders to enable evidence to impact practice are numerous and diverse. Several authors increasingly advocate for reflections on how well knowledge translation is done while indicating that mechanisms for dissemination are not functioning optimally or consistently. It is imperative for stakeholders to be clear on the when, how, and why of their choices for knowledge dissemination, but that they should progress beyond ‘best ways’ and even the availability of ‘effective resources’ to evaluating how well the evidence was diffused. This presentation will briefly highlight ways excellent practice research findings and creative practice can be combined to enable meaningful impact. Creative ways for disseminating co-constructed knowledge must be carefully considered and any dissemination mechanisms should be in line with the goals of the required impact, fit the practice research results, and respond to the appropriate audience.

Professor Ilse Julkunen, University of Helsinki

Ilse Julkunen is a Professor in social work at the University of Helsinki. Professor Julkunen is a scientific leader of the Mathilda Wrede Institute, a practice-research unit at the intersection of education, research and practice operating in close cooperation with the Centre of Expertise within the social services. Together with professor Gillian Ruch she has co-edited Relationship-Based Research in Social Work: Understanding Practice Research (2016). In 2017 she has contributed together with professor Elisabeth Willumsen a chapter on Professional boundary crossing and interprofessional knowledge development to the book on Social and caring Professions in European Welfare States. Recently she has finished a study on Urban Social Work with Migrants and contributed to the Routledge Handbook on Practice Research. Her research concerns vulnerable young people, unemployment, transitions, practice research methodology and comparative research.

Beyond Knowledge Translation – Making Sense of Relations and Alliances

Building on a close reading of the scientific literature from the fields of social sciences, management, policy and science and technology on knowledge transfer iterated with a research experience of practice-based research within social work and welfare services this presentation engages with the relational understanding of knowledge transfer in research in practice. It asks what happens in the multi-way process of knowledge transfer and tries to makes sense of the relationality in that process by turning towards the sociology of translation and to the potentials of socio-materiality and actor-relational views on knowledge transfer. The findings showed that the association between types of knowledge sources and knowledge alliance partners evolves in the interaction that takes place within knowledge networks. Network actors that may initially be important sources of knowledge become, over time, key members of alliance networks. This makes sense since it is through repeated interaction that the trust required to form working alliances is generated. However, there seems to also be some forms of underlying interdependence--for instance a common professional network or infrastructure which increases the repeated interaction and formation of future alliances.

PhD, Docent Keegan Knittle, University of Helsinki

Keegan Knittle is a Health Psychologist and University Researcher in Social Psychology at the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Helsinki, Finland. He has developed several health behavior change interventions embedded in existing healthcare pathways, each of which have involved co-design processes. His research interests center around motivation for physical activity and exploring within-persons (idiographic) routes to health behavior change.

Experience-Based Design: Improving services and interventions

Experience-based design (EBD) methods were developed within the UK National Health Service as a way to optimally redesign existing healthcare pathways and improve patient care. While many care improvement interventions consult with service stakeholders, the EBD approach goes further to capture the observed and perceived experiences of actual services users. Although EBD methods have been utilized primarily in healthcare settings, they can be applied to optimize interventions across a wide range of settings. This talk will use real-world examples to introduce workshop participants to the four steps of the EBD process: (1) Capturing the experience, (2) Understanding the experience, (3) Improving the experience, and (4) Measuring the improvement.

PhD Heidi Muurinen, University of Helsinki

Heidi Muurinen, D.Soc.Sc, holds a position of team manager in the adult social services in the City of Espoo, Finland. Her doctoral research focused on experiment-driven and collaborative approach in designing social services, knowledge production related to practical experiments and pragmatist philosophy in social work research. She is a part of Heikki Waris Institute, a joint research and development structure of municipalities in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area and the discipline of social work at the University of Helsinki, Finland.

Reasoning and knowledge production in practical experiments

Practical experiments and the culture of experimentation are considered to promote innovation and improving practices. However, improving practices requires thorough reasoning during the design process. To conceptualize the knowledge production related to the practical experiments, I turned to pragmatist philosophy in my doctoral research.

In pragmatism, the key principle in knowledge production is to consider the practical consequences of concepts, theories and notions. Pragmatism aims to solve genuine practical problems and emphasizes fallibilism, instrumentalism, practical experiments and the collaborative nature of knowledge production. When a theory is tested and provides guidance or removes a specific trouble, it is confirmed as knowledge. If the theory cannot be tested in practice, it is a belief treated with caution.

Recognizing the iteration of abductive, deductive and inductive reasoning in a practical experiment helps steering the design process. The iterative use of the forms of inferencing and thorough reasoning turns an experiment into a reflective experiment which creates better conditions for evaluating situational consequences as well as doing practice-based research. Furthermore, considering different reasoning strategies can help to discover new working hypotheses, utilize different sources of knowledge, consider the perspectives of the different parties and to design the experiments in a way that creates better prospects for learning.

Adjunct Professor Aino Kääriäinen, University of Helsinki

Aino Kääriäinen is Senior Lecturer (D.Soc.Sc) in Social Work at the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Helsinki, Finland. Her research interests include documentation in social work, parenthood after divorce and integrating practice and theory in social work. She also acts as expert member at Helsinki Administrative Court in children's care issues.

Integrating theory and practice in social work

Social work research has listed several barriers for research-minded practice and the relationship between theory and practice has long been discussed. Pragmatist philosopher John Dewey considered that theories should be used as helpful instruments in analysing situations and in forming hypotheses that are experimented with in practice settings. This made us wonder, how social workers could be supported to apply theory in their everyday practice?

In 2012 we designed a “Practice and Theory” pilot intervention group. The group is an academic-practitioner intervention aiming to support social workers in integrating theories and research as part of their practical work. This presentation describes the results of a three-case study of the pilot intervention group.

Professor Antti Malmivaara, National Institute for Health and Welfare

Antti Malmivaara, MD, PhD, works as the Chief Physician at the Centre for Health and Social Economics of the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare. He has published extensively on effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of conservative and operative treatments and rehabilitation. He is in the Executive Board of Cochrane Rehabilitation, being the chair of the Methodology Committee. He is a member of the European Academy for Rehabilitation Medicine, and chairs its Foresight Committee. He has introduced the concepts of real-effectiveness medicine, benchmarking controlled trial (BCT) and Optimizing medicine for assessing and advancing effectiveness in ordinary health care settings.

How to study and advance effectiveness in health care: optimizing medicine

Evidence of effectiveness can be obtained by experiments (randomized controlled trials, RCTs) or by observation (benchmarking controlled trials, BCTs). Double blinded RCTs quantify the biological or physical effectiveness of an intervention, while non-blinded trials quantify effectiveness in ordinary health care settings. Comprehensive description of patients and interventions is mandatory for generalizability of evidence. Information, advice, support and promotion of functioning produce effectiveness. Biological and physically acting interventions may add to this effectiveness. Competence, evidence based medicine, quality assessment and benchmarking are tools for optimizing effectiveness in health care.

Professor Taru Lintunen, University of Jyväskylä

Taru Lintunen is a Professor of Sport and Exercise Psychology in the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences at the University of Jyväskylä. Dr. Lintunen’s research interests are in the areas of motivation and behaviour change in physical activity, and social and emotional learning and group phenomena in sport and exercise. In these areas she has completed intervention research in Finland with strong applied focus. She is the author and co-editor of several textbooks in the field of sport, health, and exercise psychology. Recently she co-edited with professors Hagger, Cameron, Hamilton, and Hankonen The Handbook of Behavior Change. Cambridge University Press (2020).

Practice-Based Research: Use of Action Research Case Study Method and Personal Experiences in Physical Activity Contexts

Action research is a cyclic process of planning, acting, observing and reflecting. The process is observed and then changed on the basis of the experience gained. The central feature of an action research based on a case study compared with other qualitative research methods, e.g. single time interview, is the temporal data gathering and the use of several data gathering methods during the implementation or field phase. This affects the analysis, reporting and trustworthiness of the approach. In an action research case study, abductive content analytical procedures are used. Through abductive logic, the analysts explore the social and natural world through practical engagements with it, derive working models and provisional understandings, and use such emergent ideas to guide further empirical explorations. It represents a combination of purely deductive logic and inductive logic. In the course of our research programme, we have developed the methods of analysing, reporting and describing action research case studies. We have experience on intervention studies developing social, emotional, and group skills of school students, university students, teachers, and athletes. Case examples are presented in the talk.

B.Soc.Sc. Lari Hokkanen, Demos Helsinki

Lari Hokkanen (B.Soc.Sc.) works at Demos Helsinki on themes related to governance innovation and evidence-based policy. Lari has a background in social policy with a focus on behavioural approach to policy design. He has a lot of experience from the intersection of public sector and experimentation. During Juha Sipilä’s government, he coordinated experiments within the spearhead project on “Access to art and culture will be facilitated”. Recently Lari designed and evaluated an RCT (survey experiment) for Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, and is now building an evaluation framework for new digiskills training pilot (RCT), which is developed in cooperation with Google.org, Nesta and SAK. Lari believes in the transformative power of evidence-based policy, if and only if, its inherent democratic and normative aspects are kept in.

Translating practices into policy relevant evidence within the policy process: Design for Government Framework as a Case

Science and technology studies kindly remind us that scientific facts are dependent on the existence of scientific institutions. Even thinking about evidence-based policy, it’s good to remember that scientific evidence itself is nothing. Facts change nothing by themselves. In order to influence policy, sound infrastructure and institutions are needed. I explore the base for this kind of infrastructure through what Demos Helsinki has learned about doing experiments and advancing experimentation culture in Finland and abroad. What are the mechanisms that connect experiments to policy processes? How those links should be built?