Doctoral Research Projects

Dissertation projects of Expert Group doctoral students

Leonardo Cedillo

Learning gratitude in school environment

 My doctoral thesis aims to exploring gratitude’s meaning and the ways it is promoted by teachers in first grade students in Finland. This is realized through the following research questions: what is the meaning of gratitude in school setting in Finland? What are the different psychological components of gratitude in school environment? What are the educational methods used by teachers to assist students understanding gratitude?

Terhi Esko

Societal Problem Solving and University Research: Science-Society Interaction and Societal Impact in the Humanities and Social Sciences

I study the societal impact of academic research through two case studies:  multidisciplinary urban studies (“policy-relevant science”) and research on learning difficulties (“welfare related science”).  My focus is on the forms and means of interaction between researchers and other societal stakeholders. In addition, I am interested in how the societal motives and developments affect the formation of research objects trough time. I have received funding through The Finnish Doctoral Programme in Education and Learning (FiDPEL) in 2012–2015.


Nasibeh Hedayati

Morality in Iranian schools 

As an article based thesis this study investigates Iranian students’ life purposes and purpose profiles. Further moral dilemmas in Iranian schools from teachers’ and students’ point of view are studied using both qualitative and quantitative research methods.

Hanne Laasala

Mindful Education, Cultivating Well-Being in Students, Teachers and Principal

My dissertation is an article dissertation, the two first articles of which will provide new information on the effects of mindfulness on teachers’ wellbeing and emotional intelligence competence, as well as on the self-management and emotional intelligence competence development of principals.

Päivikki Lahtinen

New possibilities pf collaboration – the photographs as instruments for enhancement of collaboration: an intervention study of home care encounters

The thesis explores client-service provider collaboration in daily work life situations in social heath care context in Finland and its new possibilities which are enhanced by seemingly neutral artifact, namely photograph.

Monica Lemos

Expanding educational management beyond school walls

This dissertation analyses how a new concept in educational management is produced during a formative intervention project for manager educators in São Paulo, Brazil. To begin with, I analyze the definition process in educational management that furthermore is used to produce and evaluate a management plan, a tool to reorganize the educational system. After that, I introduce a case in which a school reorganizes its management to transform itself and the community around the school to overcome a flood issue. The majority of the data was collected from meetings held in the Secretariat of Education, in Regional Boards of Education and in schools in the city of São Paulo Expanding educational management beyond school walls

Virpi Lund

Residents’ agency and learning through participation in urban development

The doctoral thesis is to explore residents’ agency when they attempt to participate in and influence their neighbourhood’s development and local governance practices. The main methodological approach is applied ethnography through following the participants in residents’ workshops and community workshops based on the method of Change Laboratory.

Niina Manninen

Social services students’ life purposes – a case study from Finland

This exploratory mixed methods case study aims to find out what kind of self- and other-focused life purposes Finnish social services students identify themselves with and how service during their studies affects their life purposes and helps them to develop their professional interactional competence.

Tarja Mäki

Tietomallien käyttö rakennustyömaan työnjohdon työssä / Using Building Information Modeling in construction site managers’ work

The research investigates the uses of building information models in construction sites and the changes in construction site management brought forth by the implementation of new tools. The research provides new scientific and practical information concerning the construction site managers’ work, uses of building information models, their benefits and challenges as well as collaboration between construction site managers and designers and the needs to develop collaboration. The funding is provided by the Finnish Work Environment Fund.

Mikko Niemela

Knowledge Integration in Education and Science

Core questions of the study are: a) what is integration in education, b) why integration is done, c) what kind of benefits and challenges are expected, d) how it is executed currently in Finnish schools, and d) how integration in schools is parallel and connected to practices of interdisciplinary science. Funding is provided by the Finnish Cultural Foundation (Lauri Järvi Fund)

Moona Niiko

Mindsets at the university of Helsinki viikki normal school – a case study in teaching first graders

Description of the thesis: This qualitative case study examines first grade teacher’s mindsets in teaching. The data includes observation and stimulated recall interviews with a class teacher whose mindsets were first identified with a mindset inventory. The final results depict how mindsets reflect on teacher’s understanding about learning and how mindsets actualize in teaching. 

Birgit Paju

The school staff’s perception of their ability to teach special education pupils in inclusive settings in Finland

The primary intent of my dissertation is to examine the factors and contradictions that identify the school staff’s ability to meet the needs of special educational (SEN) pupils in their daily teaching situations. Focusing the improvement of inclusive practices on all pupils calls for the collective resolution of contradictions and the development of tools and models that facilitate the educational change.

Heidi Paju

Political formation of vocational education: A comparative study of Finnish and Estonian vocational education systems

The emphasis of the research lies on a comparative study of Estonian and Finnish Vocational Education Training systems. The research adopts two methodological approaches: historical comparative approach, and critical policy analysis.  Funding: Seed funding from Journal of Vocational Education and Training

Katrin Riisla

From Individual Knowledge to Collective Practice: Exploring Transitions in Knowledge Creation and Sharing  

Creating and sharing knowledge function as precondition for innovation, creativity and value creation in organisational and network contexts but also cater for the new demands of collaboration and work in multi-professional teams of today’s working life. Knowledge creation and sharing are thus some of the most important elements of creative behaviour in any organisation. While there is a substantial literature documenting the importance of knowledge and its role in creativity, there is limited research on how individual knowledge becomes the knowledge of a collective and ultimately collaborative practice. My dissertation addresses this research gap. It investigates individual and collective knowledge creation and sharing during and after a formative intervention. The study will explore how and why knowledge transitions occur between an individual and the collective in the process of creating new collaborative practice using a long-term perspective. My hypothesis argues that this transition process includes certain key elements that can contribute to increased collaboration, innovation and creativity. Their identification can help teams and organisations create more effective knowledge creation and sharing practices in organisational contexts beyond this study and thus further enhance their creativity and innovative development.

Rina Ronkainen

Growth mindset appearing in a didactic relationship

This qualitative case study examines first grade teacher's growth mindset in teaching. The data includes theme interview, observation and stimulated recall interviews. The final results describes how teacher’s growth mindset appears in planning and reflection of teaching and how growth mindset actualize in teaching. 

Rachel Sinquefield-Kangas

The role of arts engagement in the development of empathy.

Through my research I explore art experiences and exercises as they promote the development of empathy in adolescents.

Liubov Vetoshkina

Historicizing craft: The object as intercultural and intertemporal unifying factor

The dissertation explores the role of objects in understaniding of revitalization and sustaining of traditional craft and artesan work.  The longitudinal ethnographic data comes from three wooden shipyards in Finland, Russia, and India. This doctoral project started as a part of an international research project Concept Formation and Volition in Collaborative Work (No 253804, funded by Academy of Finland, duration: 01.09.2011-31.08.2015). The thesis recieved funding from former Finnish National Doctoral School on Education (currently, FinEd network) and from Finnish Cultural Foundation.

Yan Won

Comparative studies on the Finnish and Chinese science curriculum 

The doctoral thesis is an article-based one to investigate how aims for scientific literacy and 21st century competencies are implemented in National Primary Science Curricula in Finland and China. Further empirical research would be done based on the analysis results of the intended curriculum. The funding is provided by China Scholarship Council for doctoral studies

Junfeng Zhang

Teachers' and students' mindsets in learning.

Empirical research on mindset has indicated that mindset could predict individual multiple achievement including academic, cognitive, motivational, affective and even socioeconomic through the mediation of social-cognitive approaches. In the light of the current research, we hypothesize that both students’ and teachers’ mindsets have an impact on students’ learning outcomes. This research aims to illustrate 1) review of current research for teachers’ and students’ mindsets in learning, 2) whether mindset in learning is culturally bound by comparing mindsets both in different backgrounds,3) cross-culture predictors to growth mindset in learning.