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Article

Solveig Cornér, Kirsi Pyhältö, Jouni Peltonen and Søren S.E. Bengtsen

This paper aims to explore the support experiences of 381 PhD students within the humanities and social sciences from three research-intensive universities in Denmark (n

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to explore the support experiences of 381 PhD students within the humanities and social sciences from three research-intensive universities in Denmark (n = 145) and Finland (n = 236). The study investigates the cross-cultural variation in the researcher community support and supervisory support experiences, factors associated with their support experienced and the perceived support fit.

Design/methodology/approach

The study used a mixed methods design, both quantitative analyses and qualitative analyses (open-ended descriptions) were used.

Findings

The results showed that students in both Danish and Finnish programs emphasized researcher community support over supervisory support. The Danish students, however, reported slightly higher levels of researcher community support and experienced lower levels of friction than their Finnish counter partners. The results also indicated that the only form of support in which the students expressed more matched support than mismatched support was informational support.

Practical implications

The results imply investing in a stronger integration of PhD students into the research community is beneficial for the students’ progress. Building network-based and collaborative learning activities that enhance both instrumental and emotional support and a collective form of supervision could be further developed. The possibility of Phd student integration in the scholarly community is likely to lead to more efficient use of finacial and intellectual resources in academia and society more broadly.

Originality/value

This study offer a unique contribution on doctoral students’ academic and socialization experiences in terms of explicationg the sources of support, support forms and support fit among Danish and Finnish doctoral students. Both invariants and socio-culturally embedded aspects of support experience among the students were detected.

Details

Studies in Graduate and Postdoctoral Education, vol. 9 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2398-4686

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Article

Lotta Tikkanen, Kirsi Pyhältö, Tiina Soini and Janne Pietarinen

The purpose of this paper is to gain a better understanding of how national board administrators, more precisely, officials at the Finnish National Board of Education…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to gain a better understanding of how national board administrators, more precisely, officials at the Finnish National Board of Education (FNBE) have perceived the primary influencing factors, or “regulators”, of the national core curriculum reform and the success of the implementation. The alignment between the identified regulators was also explored.

Design/methodology/approach

Altogether, 23 FNBE officials participated in this mixed methods study.

Findings

The results showed that the officials perceived the core curriculum reform as a systemic entity: the reform was implemented using a top-down and bottom-up strategy, and several regulators were identified at different levels of the education system. The officials also viewed the implementation as successful, and identified more promoting than hindering factors in it. However, they emphasised regulators at the administrative level, whereas regulators at the district or national levels were less often identified. They also highlighted the importance of orchestrating collaboration in comparison with the other regulators.

Practical implications

The results imply that in addition to considering separate determinants of reform success, it is important to pay attention to sufficient alignment between the regulators at different levels of the education system in order to better understand and promote the implementation of a large-scale reform.

Originality/value

This study provides new knowledge on national board administrators’ perspectives on what regulates the implementation of a large-scale curriculum reform.

Details

Journal of Educational Administration, vol. 55 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-8234

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Article

Yusuke Sakurai and Kirsi Pyhältö

This study aims to explore the disciplinary characteristics of doctoral students’ generic skills learning experience at a Finnish university.

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to explore the disciplinary characteristics of doctoral students’ generic skills learning experience at a Finnish university.

Design/methodology/approach

An online survey measuring doctoral students’ generic skills learning experience was administered to all doctoral students of the university and 1,184 responses were obtained. The study conducted exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis, principal component analysis and heatmap analyses.

Findings

The results suggested three major trends. First, students’ scores for research integrity skills were consistently lower in the hard sciences, such as biological and environmental sciences, pharmacy, veterinary medicine, science and medicine. Second, students of the law showed a unique trend; their scores for research integrity, leadership and entrepreneurship skills learning were remarkably higher than those in other faculties, but they had the lowest scores for communication skills.

Research limitations/implications

The data represented students at one Finnish university, so institutional and geographical differences fell beyond the scope of this paper. Furthermore, the results could reflect either the authentic levels of students’ acquired skillsets or self-interpretation of experiences governed by their disciplinary values. Accordingly, the immediate generalisability of the findings to individuals and different contexts should carefully be considered.

Originality/value

The findings can contribute to improve doctoral training practices. In addition, the survey results are useful for the further development of inventories, as doctoral students’ engagement in generic skills development has been attracting attention in higher education.

Details

Studies in Graduate and Postdoctoral Education, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2398-4686

Keywords

Content available
Article

Jenni Sullanmaa, Kirsi Pyhältö, Janne Pietarinen and Tiina Soini

Shared understandings of curriculum reform within and between the levels of the educational system are suggested to be crucial for the reform to take root. The purpose of…

Abstract

Purpose

Shared understandings of curriculum reform within and between the levels of the educational system are suggested to be crucial for the reform to take root. The purpose of this paper is to explore variation in perceived curriculum coherence and school impact among state- and district-level stakeholders.

Design/methodology/approach

The participants (n=666) included state- and district-level stakeholders involved in a national curriculum reform in Finland. Latent profile analysis was employed to identify profiles based on participants’ perceptions of the core curriculum’s coherence and the reform’s impact on school development.

Findings

Two profiles were identified: high coherence and impact, and lower consistency of the intended direction and impact. State-level stakeholders had higher odds of belonging to the high coherence and impact profile than their district-level counterparts.

Practical implications

The results imply that more attention needs to be paid in developing a shared and coherent understanding particularly of the intended direction of the core curriculum as well as the reform’s effects on school-level development among state- and district-level stakeholders.

Originality/value

The study contributes to the literature on curriculum reform by shedding light on the variation in perceived curriculum coherence and school impact of those responsible for a large-scale national curriculum reform process at different levels of the educational system.

Details

Journal of Educational Administration, vol. 57 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0957-8234

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Article

Jenna Vekkaila, Kirsi Pyhältö, Kai Hakkarainen, Jenni Keskinen and Kirsti Lonka

This article is intended to contribute towards furthering the understanding of researcher development as demonstrated by doctoral students' learning within scholarly…

Abstract

Purpose

This article is intended to contribute towards furthering the understanding of researcher development as demonstrated by doctoral students' learning within scholarly communities. The article does this by reporting the findings of a study that explored the students' key learning experiences during their doctoral journey.

Design/methodology/approach

The 19 participants were natural science doctoral students from a top‐level research community in Finland. The data were collected through interviews that were qualitatively content analysed.

Findings

The participants emphasised the significance of participation, development as a scholar, developing specific research competences as well as learning to balance between doctoral research and other institutional tasks. They situated the key learning experiences in collaborative academic contexts such as research activities, taking courses, and academic meetings. The participants generally perceived their experiences as positive and enhancing.

Originality/value

Significant learning experiences identified by natural science doctoral students themselves are rarely studied. The results of the study reported in this article may be used by doctoral trainers, supervisors and students to create environments that foster students' learning and researcher development through their participation in scholarly communities.

Details

International Journal for Researcher Development, vol. 3 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2048-8696

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Book part

Tiina Soini, Kirsi Pyhältö and Janne Pietarinen

The national core curriculum is renewed in Finland approximately every ten years, the most recent one being 2016. The core curriculum sets the general goals, providing the…

Abstract

The national core curriculum is renewed in Finland approximately every ten years, the most recent one being 2016. The core curriculum sets the general goals, providing the foundation for district- and school level curriculum development work (Finnish National Board of Education, 2016). The messages from transnational educational policy (e.g. OECD) are apparent in the core curriculum. However, districts, schools and teachers are highly autonomous in upholding, resourcing and deciding about the curriculum making at the local sites of activity. Accordingly, the curriculum making relies heavily on shared sense-making as a tool for cultivating transformative learning throughout the educational system. The chapter draws on the results of the national “School Matters” research project (2014-2018), to provide the meta-analysis of the sense-making in national curriculum making. Results suggested that the shared sense-making focused on engaging educational practitioners in learning at all layers of the system. However, the means for facilitating shared sense-making between the different layers of the system and curriculum was perceived to be less coherent by the stakeholders at the district and school level, than at the state level. This implies that the educational providers should not only be involved in co-creation of the aims, contents and values of the curriculum document, but also in designing novel and ecologically valid ways for orchestrating the complex and dynamic curriculum making.

Details

Curriculum Making in Europe: Policy and Practice within and Across Diverse Contexts
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83867-735-0

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Article

Jenna Vekkaila, Kirsi Pyhältö and Kirsti Lonka

The aim of this paper is to explore doctoral students' engaging and disengaging experiences among a group of students whose doctoral processes had been prolonged for more…

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this paper is to explore doctoral students' engaging and disengaging experiences among a group of students whose doctoral processes had been prolonged for more than seven years.

Design/methodology/approach

The participants were 16 doctoral students in the behavioural sciences. The data were collected with interviews employing a visualisation of their doctoral journeys, and were content analysed qualitatively.

Findings

The results suggested that the students described their engagement in doctoral work in terms of dedication, vigour and occasionally absorption. In turn, disengagement was described in terms of insufficiency, cynicism and sometimes exhaustion. Interestingly, the source of engagement was typically a sense of belonging in the scholarly community, whereas the students often reported a lack of autonomy and a lack of belonging as sources for disengagement.

Research limitations/implications

Further longitudinal studies are needed to explore the development of engagement in doctoral work among students from different contexts.

Practical implications

In terms of developing more engaging learning environments, the findings imply that by enhancing students' sense of belonging to their scholarly community and their experiences of autonomy within it their engagement in doctoral work, and further, development as researchers can be fostered.

Originality/value

This study extends the understanding of what may engage or disengage students from their doctoral studies and the essential relationship between the sense of autonomy and that of belonging in doctoral student engagement, in particular in the context of prolonged doctoral studies in the behavioural sciences.

Details

International Journal for Researcher Development, vol. 5 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2048-8696

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Book part

Yusuke Sakurai and Kirsi Pyhältö

Academic engagement is considered to be a hallmark of an optimal studying experience and a key to academic success for all students, including those from abroad…

Abstract

Academic engagement is considered to be a hallmark of an optimal studying experience and a key to academic success for all students, including those from abroad. Accordingly, creating an engaging learning environment for higher education students is among the most pressing issues currently facing universities. This essay first summarises authors’ research perspectives focussing on international students’ engagement in university studies. The authors especially have attempted to understand to what extent international students from different backgrounds engage in their studies and whether the impacts of factors in students’ learning environment on their academic engagement vary between different international student cohorts. Second, we introduce three emerging perspectives: students’ academic engagement in relation to their future self-visions, doctoral education and short-term study abroad programs, which are all closely tied with international education. Third, the essay proposes several gaps in the literature that the authors find important for future investigation to contribute to students’ academic engagement in globalising higher educational institutions.

Details

Annual Review of Comparative and International Education 2017
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78743-765-4

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Article

Yusuke Sakurai, Kirsi Pyhältö and Sari Lindblom‐Ylänne

This article's purpose is to report the findings and implications of a study that explored factors promoting and hindering international doctoral students' academic engagement.

Abstract

Purpose

This article's purpose is to report the findings and implications of a study that explored factors promoting and hindering international doctoral students' academic engagement.

Design/methodology/approach

An empirical study sought data through a questionnaire from international students registered for doctoral study at the University of Helsinki. Open‐ended and Likert‐scale survey data were qualitatively and quantitatively analysed.

Findings

The students commented most frequently (41 per cent) on the scholarly community as a factor in promoting their studies. Departmental issues had the largest proportion of hindering factors overall (34 per cent). Promoting factors related to the supervision they received and private domain factors were positively related to students' satisfaction with their studies. Considering dropping out was significantly associated with hindering factors related to their supervision and to departmental issues. Also, peers and colleagues were not significantly associated with students' satisfaction with their studies or with their contemplating dropping out.

Practical implications

The article addresses key issues that will be of interest and benefit to universities who wish to retain and attract overseas research students. In particular, it discusses the importance of wider scholarly communities in providing international doctoral students with a favourable study experience which may be enhanced by performing departmental tasks as an important part of enculturation within supportive scholarly communities.

Originality/value

This paper offers a novel way of understanding early career researcher development, as illustrated by doctoral students' academic experiences. It also taps into the under‐ examined area of international doctoral students' study experiences.

Details

International Journal for Researcher Development, vol. 3 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2048-8696

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Article

Marika Vänttinen and Kirsi Pyhältö

In many organisations a lot of effort is put into the formation of a strategy, but the implementation of strategies is lacking. This paper aims to explore the…

Abstract

Purpose

In many organisations a lot of effort is put into the formation of a strategy, but the implementation of strategies is lacking. This paper aims to explore the preconditions for a successful strategy process (i.e. a process which results in implementation) in the context of municipal services in Finland. As a case study, the implementation of the city strategy in the home care services in one Finnish municipality is to be examined. The practical goal is to explain, why the implementation of strategy is lacking. The theoretical purpose is to find prerequisites for successful strategy implementation.

Design/methodology/approach

The project was carried out by using an action research approach. The data collection and analysis methods were qualitative, including semi‐structured interviews, visual modelling of the strategy processes and observation of group discussions during the intervention day. The content of all the ten transcribed interviews and the transcription of the intervention were systematically analysed. In the context of the city strategy process, two types of fundamental prerequisites for learning were studied: the significance given to the strategy work, and the experience of agency in the strategy process.

Findings

The participants in the strategy process were divided into three different organisational levels, the experiences were consistent within organisational levels but they differed between them. Both the strategic‐ and operative‐level employees considered the strategic level as active strategy makers and the operative level as passive receivers of the strategy. Furthermore, the management‐level employees gave high significance to the strategy process, while the significance given to the strategy process by the politicians and the operative‐level employees was low. The above‐mentioned findings may be the reasons why the commitment of staff members to the strategy was low and its implementation ineffective.

Practical implications

In the strategy process of the case municipality, the understanding of the strategy process seemed to be fragmented and rigid, because the spontaneous conceptions of strategy were not problematised and discussed throughout the organisation. To build up a meaningful understanding of the strategy process, the spontaneous conceptions of strategy should be processed at all levels of the organisation. Furthermore, to prevent understanding from becoming fragmentated, the strategy representations should be processed in a common process. If it is supposed to be implemented, the strategy process should be seen as a continuous and comprehensive learning process.

Originality/value

The strategy process is a complex system in which many factors interact simultaneously. Despite this, the relationship between individual learning processes and the strategy process has not been researched before. The paper explores the strategy process as a holistic and systemic learning process in which individual and shared collaborative processes are intertwined.

Details

Management Decision, vol. 47 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0025-1747

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