Get to know the scholars belonging to the Research Group for History and Social Science Education.
Jukka Rantala, Professor

Jukka Rantala is a professor of history and social science education. His PhD thesis in 1997 dealt with the attempted political purges of Finnish teachers after the Second World War. Rantala has been working as a teacher educator since 1991. In the field of history education, he has carried out research on young Finns’ historical thinking and the historical consciousness of children. In the history of education, his main focus has been on the formation of Finnish teacherhood and the political ethos of Finnish teachers. He has published eight scientific monographs in Finnish, addressing the topics of consuming history, the historical consciousness of young children, and the political orientation of Finnish teachers, among other things. He has been an editor for several academic anthologies. He is also a nonfiction author, having published textbooks and teaching material for comprehensive school and university.

Sirkka Ahonen, Professor Emerita

Sirkka Ahonen is a Professor Emerita of history and social science education. Her PhD thesis, presented at the University of Helsinki in 1990, dealt with the historical thinking of adolescents. Her research interests range from the formation of historical identity to the history of school politics and the use of history in post-conflict countries. She is active in European cooperation in the fields of history didactics and history of education. She has published the English monographs “Clio Sans Uniform – A Study of the Post-Marxist Transformation of the History Curricula in East Germany and Estonia, 1986–1991” (1992) and “Coming to Terms with a Dark Past – How Post-Conflict Societies Deal with History” (2012).

Janne Säntti, University Lecturer

Janne Säntti is a university lecturer in pedagogical studies for adult education at the University of Helsinki, and associate professor in educational sciences. His PhD thesis dealt with how teachers’ professional identities and roles changed in post-war Finland. Säntti has mainly studied Finnish teacher education in post-war Finland, especially the formation of academic teacher education. He is currently interested in digitalisation and future visions of education, and rhetoric analysis as an analytical tool. Säntti sits on the board of the Finnish Society for the History of Education where he is the chief editor of the Society’s yearbook.

Mikko Puustinen, University Lecturer

Mikko Puustinen is a university lecturer in history and social science education. His research interests include also teacher education. Recently, Puustinen has studied the disciplinary base of history and social science in close connection with disciplinary literacy and powerful knowledge. During 2018 and 2019, Puustinen implemented an observational study that shed light on what goes on in Finnish history classrooms. Puustinen is part of the international KOSS network, which draws from the concepts of ‘powerful knowledge’ and ‘epistemic quality’. His other research interests include economic literacy education and the meanings that in-service teachers perceive in educational research and theory.

Amna Khawaja, University Instructor

Amna Khawaja works as a University Instructor. Her doctoral thesis in 2024 dealt with historical literacy in Finnish primary classrooms. Khawaja is part of the international KOSS network, which draws from the concepts of ‘powerful knowledge’ and ‘epistemic quality’. She has been involved in several research projects, such as the HisLit project on historical literacy and the PARVI project on teachers' perceptions of assessment.

Tanja Taivalantti, University Instructor

Tanja Taivalantti works as a University Instructor in History and Social Science Education. She is finalising her dissertation on the historical narratives and identities of Finnish speaking young people. In her research, Taivalantti focuses on the relationship between history education and the identity construction process of young people. She is involved in the Youth and History research project, which is a comparative European survey on historical consciousness and political attitudes among adolescents. Taivalantti has also taught history and social science and supervised teacher trainees at the Helsinki Normal Lyceum, the teacher training school of the University of Helsinki.

Jari Salminen, Researcher

Jari Salminen, PhD, Docent in educational sciences. His PhD thesis, presented at the University of Helsinki in 2002, was concerned with the structural development of private secondary schools in Finland from 1872–1920. He later studied educational history, the historical formation of school curricula, and development work in schools. He has published several school histories and monographs. Salminen has held many positions of trust within the University of Helsinki and the Finnish Society for the History of Education. 

Najat Ouakrim-Soivio, Researcher

Najat Ouakrim-Soivio has studied the assessment of learning outcomes in history and social science in secondary schools within Finland, and the validity of grades at the end of secondary school in Finland. During 2011–2013, the project of assessing the learning outcomes in history and social science was carried out for the first time. Ouakrim-Soivio was the project manager for this nation-wide assessment (Ouakrim-Soivio et al. 2012). She has acted as an expert during the two previous processes of reforming the Finnish National Core Curricula (2004 and 2014), and was a representative of the Ministry of Education in the Steering Group for National Core Curriculum for basic education (2014).

Marko van den Berg, Researcher

Marko van den Berg is a teacher trainer. His current position is at the Normal Lyceum, which is the Teacher Training School at the University of Helsinki. He has also been working continuously as a university lecturer in the Faculty of Educational Sciences. Marko van den Berg finished his PhD in 2007. His post-doctoral scientific interests relate to the historical consciousness of young people, as well as the attitudes of Finnish youth towards various social questions. Recently, van den Berg has been studying the command of historical literature among high school students. He has also participated in textbook projects (history and social science) and been an expert in working committees that reformed the history and social science core curricula for comprehensive school. Marko van den Berg has served several times as a Pestalozzi programme trainer.