Members of our team.
Kirsi Tirri

Dr. Kirsi Tirri is a full Professor of Education at the Faculty of Educational Sciences at the University of Helsinki and a visiting Professor at St. John's University, New York, USA. Professor Tirri has been the President of ECHA (European Council for High Ability) for the years 2008-2012 and the President of the SIG International Studies at AERA (American Educational Research Association) for the years 2010-2013. She served as a President of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters for the years 2016-2017. She was Research Director at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies for the years 2017-2019.

Her research interests include school pedagogy, moral and religious education, gifted education, teacher education and cross-cultural studies. She has published 13 monographs and numerous journal articles related to these fields. She serves in 13 Editorial Boards of educational journals. She has supervised 27 doctoral dissertations in education and theology and mentored many postdoctoral students who are now professors and researchers in education. She has led the Finnish team in many national and international research projects.

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Sonja Laine

University lecturer PhD, MA (Ed.) Sonja Laine

Research themes:

  • Gifted education, conceptions of giftedness
  • Differentiated teaching
  • Teachers’ and students’ mindset about learning 

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Ita Puusepp

Doctoral student Ita Puusepp

Topic of thesis: Changing mindsets about learning among elementary school students

Description of thesis: This article-based doctoral dissertation focuses on researching mindsets related to learning and  aims to connect psychological, educational, and neuroscientific data in order to construct and test a mindset intervention program that will improve students’ learning outcomes during elementary school.

Funding: Finnish cultural foundation 


Kati Jääskö-Santala

Doctoral student Kati Jääskö-Santala

Topic of thesis: Teachers´ implicit theories of learning and their implications for pedagogical thinking and practice

Description of thesis: This article-based doctoral dissertation will focus on researching teachers' implicit theories of learning and their implications for pedagogical thinking and practice. This research will give an overview of Finnish class teachers' and special education teachers' mindsets about intelligence and perceptions of neuroplasticity, how a growth mindset and understanding of brain plasticity is actualized in teachers' pedagogical thinking and practice, and special education teachers' evaluations of a mindset intervention program for students with special needs.

Matthew Billington

Doctoral student Matthew Billington

Topic of thesis: Mindsets about foreign language learning among university language teachers and students 

Description of thesis: This article-based, mixed-method dissertation assesses the growth or fixed mindsets of second/foreign teachers and learners at Finnish Universities. Moreover, it investigates 1) the association between students’ fixed or growth mindsets about their language-learning ability and their experience of foreign language classroom anxiety, 2) the relationship between language teachers’ fixed or growth mindsets about language-learning and their feedback style, and 3) the connection between language teachers’ mindsets and their knowledge of neuroplasticity.

Elina Kuusisto

Dr. Elina Kuusisto  is a Docent of Education at the Faculty of Educational Sciences, the University of Helsinki, Finland. Her academic writings deal with: moral and religious education, more specifically:

  • moral sensitivities such as ethical sensitivity, intercultural sensitivity, interreligious sensitivity
  • purposeful teaching and life purposes
  • talent development and growth mindset 

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Khalil Gholami

Dr. Khalil Gholami currently is an Associate Professor at the Department of Education, University of Kurdistan, and a Docent at the Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Helsinki. He conducts research on teaching and teacher education and currently he is working on teachers professional identity and agency. His ongoing article is about "construction and deconstruction of student teacher's identity". In addition, he is a pedagogical expert in higher education; his recent project on land use planning of higher education institutions in the province of Kurdistan aims at developing a road map for higher education in this province.

Source of funding: sabbatical grant, University of Kurdistan

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Inkeri Rissanen

Academy Postdoctoral Researcher Inkeri Rissanen, Faculty of Education and Culture, Tampere University 

Fields of expertise: Multicultural education, religions and worldviews in education, teachers' intercultural competencies, growth mindset pedagogy

Research topics: Malleability beliefs and diversity beliefs as part of teachers' intercultural competencies, teachers' mindsets and growth mindset pedagogy, Muslim inclusion in schools, Islamic religious education

Rina Ronkainen

Doctoral student (Tallinn University) Rina Ronkainen

Topic of thesis: Growth mindset appearing in a didactic relationship

Description of thesis: 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.

Yingying He

Doctoral student Yingying He

Topic of Thesis: Teachers’ purposes in voluntary teaching: the case of China

Description of thesis: By adopting a purposive and motivational approach, this project seeks to comprehend the personal and professional identity reformulation of Chinese pre-service volunteer teachers. This study will answer 1) Why do Chinese pre-service teachers volunteer and how do their teaching motivations different from those who do not volunteer? 2) What are the life purposes of Chinese volunteer teachers, and how does volunteering influence their life purposes and career choices? 3) How do Chinese pre-service teachers reformulate their personal and professional identity during their volunteer teaching? By integrating motivation and life purposes into a model of volunteer identity, this dissertation will present a thorough profile of the life purposes of Chinese pre-service teachers and give meaning to their volunteering and identity reformulation.