The doctoral programme of educational science in the Institute of Education prepares its students for independent research work as well as for undertaking top specialist positions in the education system. The doctoral programme of educational science functions as a joint curriculum, incorporating the doctoral students from the Institute of Education and the Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences. The doctoral degrees are awarded by the joint council of the two institutes.
There are currently 45 doctoral students taking part in the doctoral programme of educational science, whose research topics are displayed in the following list. A profound overview of doctoral theses recently defended in the Institute of Education can also be found below.
Supervisors: Äli Leijen (University of Tartu), Margus Pedaste (University of Tartu), Miia Rannikmäe (University of Tartu)
Summary: The overarching aim of the thesis is to better understand how attitudes and behavioral intention interact in predicting mobile device use for educational purposes. Latter enables to design interventions that would address the essential aspects of mobile device use for educational purposes for teachers and students.
Practical value: Based on the results of the doctoral thesis educators will be more knowledgeable in supporting the adaption of mobile devices for educational purposes for teachers and students. This thesis will shed some light on potential misconceptions when it comes to the adaption of mobile devices in education.
Contact: liina.adov [ät] ut.ee
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/Liina_Adov/est?tabId=CV_ENG
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/Minni_Aia-Utsal/est?tabId=CV_ENG
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/David%20Anthony_Cerulli001/est?tabId=CV_ENG
Supervisors: Krista Uibu (University of Tartu), Mervi Raudsaar (University of Tartu)
Summary: The aim of the dissertation is to assess the impact of students’ as well as their teachers’ knowledge and attitudes on students’ entrepreneurial competence and their sub-competences in the transition from the first to the second level of basic school and from the second to the third level.
Practical value: The practical value of the doctoral thesis is to expand the level of understanding of students' development of entrepreneurial competence at different school levels of basic school.
Contact: kulli.hiiemae-metsar [ät] ut.ee
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/K%C3%BClli_Hiiem%C3%A4e-Metsar/est?tabId=CV_ENG
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/Pihel_Hunt/est?tabId=CV_ENG
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/K%C3%BClli_Kallas/est?tabId=CV_ENG
Supervisors: Miia Rannikmäe (University of Tartu), Regina Soobard (University of Tartu), Jack Holbrook (University of Tartu)
Summary: The aim of this study is to find out how primary school teachers understand the nature of science, and based on the results to develop and carry out scientifically justified intervention to promote these understandings. The intervention program is implemented during the follow-up study through two courses, and students' understanding and attitudes are measured both before and after the interventions.
Practical value: Based on the results of the doctoral thesis, it is possible to include topics or subjects in the primary school teachers’ curriculum, and to develop appropriate in-service training programs in order to promote teachers’ understanding of science and the nature of science.
Contact: aigi.kikkas [ät] ut.ee
Further information: https://www.ut.ee/en/aigi-kikkas
Supervisors: Äli Leijen (University of Tartu), Margus Pedaste (University of Tartu)
Summary: As a result of increased migration in the last years, Estonian school education has become increasingly diverse in terms of student backgrounds. Moreover, Estonia faces educational segregation as students of different home languages study in different schools (Estonian medium vs Russian medium) for decades. This educational segregation fuels segregation in the labour market, life quality and social inclusion. Based on the concept of an Integrated Estonian School, my thesis aims to propose solutions on how to educate students of different home languages together.
Practical value: My thesis should result in potential school models suitable for the Estonian context. Hopefully, these could be useful examples for other schools to follow.
Contact: laura.kirss [ät] ut.ee
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/Laura_Kirss/est?tabId=CV_ENG
Supervisor: Äli Leijen (University of Tartu)
Summary: The main aim of the research is to design an evidence-based in-service education programme for school teams (teachers, support specialists, school leaders) on inclusive education and assess how the training influences schools’ development activities in implementing inclusive education and which factors influence this.
Practical value: The practical value of the study is to enhance in-service training on inclusive education in such a way that it would have practical value in school development activities and would thus ensure the meaningful implementation of inclusive education at school level.
Contact: tiina.kivirand [ät] ut.ee
Supervisor: Evelyn Kiive (University of Tartu)
Summary: The aim of the thesis is to compose a methodical material for teachers and special educators, how to identify students with MLD and how to teach mathematics to students having mathematical learning difficulties for several reasons.
Practical value: Based on the results of the doctoral thesis a methodical material for teachers and special educators, how to identify students with MLD and how to teach mathematics to students having mathematical learning difficulties for several reasons will be completed.
Contact: triin.kivirahk [ät] ut.ee
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/Triin_Kivir%C3%A4hk/est?tabId=CV_ENG
Practical value: By educating teachers on how to implement the structured teaching components of the TEACCH programm, we can help children with ASD achive better academic skills. We also support the inclusion of children with ASD, because teachers know how to help them.
Contact: kristina.kutsar [ät] ut.ee
Supervisors: Krista Uibu (University of Tartu), Jaan Mikk (University of Tartu)
Summary: The aim of the doctoral thesis was to determine age and gender differences in text comprehension and the effects of teaching strategies on primary school students’ text comprehension, vocabulary, and reading interest.
Practical value: The findings revealed that primary school teachers use general as well as language teaching strategies in their lessons. Using suitable instruction according to students’ age and needs is of utmost importance in order to accomplish good results in the language lesson. Therefore, teachers need to know about what, when, and how to implement certain teaching strategies in their instruction (e.g., using more general teaching strategies at the beginning of primary school).
It appeared that extensive use of the grammar teaching strategy has an adverse effect on students’ text comprehension. Grammar is too abstract for some students, and therefore teachers should be careful before implementing grammar teaching in the classroom. For grammar instruction to be resultant for students, teachers should make strategic decisions about how to effectively teach it (e.g., using age-appropriate teaching activities that are also interesting for students). In addition, teachers have to be aware of their students’ characteristics and use age-appropriate texts and tasks in language lessons to promote their students’ text comprehension in the best possible way.
This doctoral thesis has shown that reading interest plays an essential role in students’ text comprehension. The strategy of developing reading interest supported all studied reading outcomes: students’ text comprehension, vocabulary development, and reading interest. When the goal is to promote students’ text comprehension, it is necessary to acknowledge the role of reading interest in the process.
Contact: maile.kasper [ät] gmail.com
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/Maile_Timm/est?tabId=CV_ENG
Contact: marju.lahtein [ät] gmail.com
Supervisors: Katrin Saks (University of Tartu), Irene-Angelica Chounta (University of Tartu)
Summary: The aim of this study is to create the prototype of the competence model which, while implementing the possibilities of learning analytics, enables teachers to analyse their teaching activities, develop their professional skills and collect necessary verification to apply for occupational qualification.
Practical value: The practical value of this doctoral thesis is to develop a prototype of a teacher self-assessment model (content analysis, recommended engines, development research). The application created by the research allows teachers to follow through and analyze their teaching practices and their professional development.
Contact: tiiu.leibur [ät] ut.ee
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/Tiiu_Leibur/est?tabId=CV_ENG
Supervisors: Merle Taimalu (University of Tartu), Krista Uibu (University of Tartu)
Summary: The aim of this study is to find out the basis on what teachers decide on the choice of learning material; to identify teachers' awareness of the criteria of learning material; to create criteria for the selection of kindergarten and primary school learning material as well as to implement them to the study of learning material.
Practical value: Criteria for the selection of kindergarten and primary school learning material have been created, which can be applied in the study of learning material. The knowledge gained from the study can be used in the level and in-service training of teacher training to develop new learning modules and to modernize curricula.
Contact: heily.leola [ät] ut.ee
Further information: https://etis.ee/CV/Heily_Leola001/est?tabId=CV_ENG
Summary: The aim of the doctoral thesis is to investigate an initial instrument for assessing teachers’ GPK (Teacher Knowledge Survey), and to gain more insight into GPK that is used in teachers practical work.
Practical value: The results of the doctoral thesis inform educational researchers in order to develop reliable and valid instruments for assessing teachers, which in return inform policymakers about educational organization.
Contact: liina.malva [ät] ut.ee
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/Liina_Malva/est?tabId=CV_ENG
Supervisor: Margus Pedaste (University of Tartu)
Summary: The aim of the doctoral thesis is to find out the key characteristics of inclusive education, then based on these characteristics to create a model to support the implementation of inclusive education in the early childhood education. Furthermore, the thesis aims to design a curriculum to systematically develop early years teachers’ skills to apply inclusive education, and to evaluate the needs of teachers’ professional development.
Practical value: This model contributes to evaluating the quality of inclusive education and how it is applied. Furthermore, this model should promote evaluating the needs of teachers’ professional development.
Contact: pille.nelis [ät] ut.ee
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/Pille_Villems/eng
Contact: kristipalk [ät] gmail.com
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/Kristi_Kollo/est?tabId=CV_ENG
However, this is not the case in secondary schools. While the lack of consensus among some stakeholders and researchers could be one of the causes. The fact that most secondary school teachers lack the confidence and capacity to effectively use social media in the context of their teaching is a major concern.
The study, therefore, aims at helping teachers to articulate the contextualization of social media in their teaching activities. So, we theorize the concept of affordance and establish how regular dialogue with tools could potentially create stronger relationships between the user and the tool. Essentially, this will potentially motivate teachers to effectively use these resources.
Contact: wilson.ofotsu.otchie [ät] ut.ee
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/Wilson%20Ofotsu_Otchie/eng?lang=ENG
Supervisors: Leo Aleksander Siiman (University of Tartu), Mario Mäeots (University of Tartu)
Summary: The goal of the research is to create a theoretical framework for extending the inquiry-based learning approach in technology-enhanced science lessons to include the development of students’ collaborative skills, in addition to their inquiry skills development.
Practical value: Doctoral thesis' innovativeness and importance for development of this scientific direction is to create a theoretical framework for extending the inquiry-based learning approach in technology-enhanced science lessons to include the development of students’ collaborative skills, in addition to their inquiry skills development.
Contact: meeli.rannastu-avalos [ät] ut.ee
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/Meeli_Rannastu/est?tabId=CV_ENG
Contact: aet.raudsep [ät] ut.ee
Practical value: The research could profit all educators and educational organisations to better understand the influence and possibilities of uncertainty in technology use at higher secondary education.
Supervisor: Irene-Angelica Chounta (University of Tartu)
Summary: The aim of this thesis is to provide a methodological framework that supports STEAM in K-12 education in two aspects: 1) by facilitating the acquisition of both, mathematical and music competences as well as domain knowledge, 2) by acquisition of 21st century skills, such as collaboration, communication, problem-solving and critical thinking.
To that end, we will design innovative and creative learning activities using intelligent virtual agents to guide students in computer-supported collaborative scenarios.
Contact: eric.roldan.roa [ät] ut.ee
Further information: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Eric_Roldan_Roa
Contact: liana.roos [ät] ut.ee
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/Liana_Roos/est?tabId=CV_ENG
Supervisors: Margus Pedaste (University of Tartu), Olev Must (University of Tartu), Karin Täht (University of Tartu)
Summary: The main aim of the doctoral thesis is to study the relationship between test-taking motivation and test performance in different testing situations, and to improve the understanding of how test-taking motivation can be measured within two different conceptual frameworks.
Practical value: The practical value of the thesis is an improved understanding of the relationship between test-taking motivation and test performance, and how this can be measured and accounted for in different testing situations. This knowledge can be useful for everyone who uses testing in their work (e.g. researchers and teachers).
Contact: gerli.silm [ät] ut.ee
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/Gerli_Silm/est?tabId=CV_ENG
Contact: triinu.soomere [ät] ut.ee
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/Triinu_Soomere/eng?lang=ENG
Contact: maarja.sormus [ät] ut.ee
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/Maarja_S%C3%B5rmus/est?tabId=CV_ENG
Supervisor: Toomas Plank (University of Tartu)
Summary: The aim of the dissertation is to study different possibilities of creating adaptive e-learning systems for teaching physics at basic and upper secondary school, based on the curriculum, the study process and the expectations of teachers and students in searching, selecting, reusing and linking study materials. An interactive process will be launched to create an adaptive, robust and user-friendly e-learning system with new features. The dissertation focuses on a comprehensive description of an ontology-based learning system.
Practical value: The project also has application value - the model is used to create new, innovative (adaptive) tools for physics e-textbooks.
Contact: ly.soord [ät] ut.ee
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/Ly_S%C3%B5%C3%B5rd/est?tabId=CV_ENG
Supervisors: Miia Rannikmäe (University of Tartu), Regina Soobard (University of Tartu)
Summary: Purpose of the current doctoral thesis is to develop the model of relevant science teaching-learning environment and determine factors influencing it perceived by lower secondary school students.
Practical value: The practical value of the dissertation is to develop the relevant model of teaching and learning environment describing the relationships between students’ interests, motivation and learning activities in science considering the importance of personal and social context.
Contact: moonika.teppo [ät] ut.ee
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/Moonika_Teppo/est?tabId=CV_ENG
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/Raili_Allas/est?tabId=CV_ENG
Defended on November 18th 2019.
Supervisors: Margus Pedaste (University of Tartu), Emanuele Bardone (University of Tartu)
Summary: In recent decades, Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) has gained a wider importance in the European Union where RRI is developed as a political framework in the governance of science. Although interest has increased in the conceptualization of RRI, the main problem is the lack of theoretical conceptualization as well as an explanation of RRI in practice. The literature indicates that RRI in science education is regarded in connection with the EU research politics, but there is still a deficiency of studies regarding the nature of RRI in education connected with scientific literature and also about integrating the RRI concept into education in a meaningful way.
Therefore, the aims of the present research were to determine: (1) the definitions and conceptual dimensions of RRI based on the relevant literature on the topic, (2) how science teachers perceive the emergence of Responsible Research and Innovation in their work, (3) a better understanding of the meaning that the term responsibility can have in different phases of inquiry-based learning, (4) the complementarity of RRI-related philosophies in science education and to consider responsibility as a part of the RRI-related philosophies in science education.
As a result of the study, RRI can be described as an effort to govern the process of research and innovation with the goal of democratically including, at the early stages, all stakeholders concerned in anticipating and discerning how research and innovation can or may work for the society as a whole. RRI can be described by the four conceptual dimensions – reflexivity, responsiveness, anticipation and inclusion – and with the two emerging dimensions – sustainability and care. Based on the empirical study of the current research, the RRI dimensions were conceptualized in education in the following categories: sense-making, action-taking, exploration and inclusion. In sum it can be said that RRI in education can be described as a process where teachers include learners meaningfully and where learners are given an opportunity to make sense, take action or explore the scientific knowledge or the technology-related processes.
Practical value: The practical value of the work stems from the contribution to the practice of the school for general education and curriculum development as well as to the politics. Attention should be paid on discerning responsibility in the learning process, a deeper understanding of the previously established approaches in science education (e.g. inquiry-based learning, socio-scientific issues) and development of the necessary training and teaching materials.
Contact: mirjam.burget [ät] ut.ee
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/Mirjam_Burget/est?tabId=CV_ENG
The processes at inferential and evaluative levels rely on various comprehension strategies that should be explicitly taught in reading lessons. In this doctoral study, the comprehension levels among the text comprehension tasks in the national standard-determining tests were examined, and an intervention program for teaching comprehension strategies was developed.
It appeared that national assessments tended to include too many literal-level tasks and few tasks at evaluative comprehension level. Also, distribution of tasks at different comprehension levels was fluctuating among the tests for the same grade in different years.
Multidimensional nature of text comprehension was considered in developing intervention program. The results showed that explicit teaching of text comprehension strategies enhanced students’ vocabulary and text comprehension at literal, inferential and evaluative levels. However, the students who attended the regular reading classes without focused attention on teaching of comprehension strategies increased only their literal text comprehension.
Furthermore, this study presents a model for designing theoretically relevant text comprehension tests that could achieve the goal of the national standard-determining tests: to provide instructionally relevant feedback to teachers. Detailed information about the intervention design and several examples of lesson scenarios, student materials, and strategy descriptions would be beneficial in the design of future interventions. The aforementioned examples could also assist teachers by showing them how to purposefully teach text comprehension strategies to improve comprehension.
Contact: triinu.karbla [ät] ut.ee
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/Triinu_K%C3%A4rbla/est?tabId=CV_ENG
Defended on September 9th 2020.
Supervisors: Diva Eensoo (National Institute for Health Development), Jaanus Harro (University of Tartu)
Summary: Injury deaths are often caused by risk-taking behaviour that in turn is associated with several personality factors (e.g., impulsivity) that are to a large degree heritable. Impulsive behaviour is strongly related to the functioning of both serotonin and dopamine systems. The main aims of this thesis were to find out 1) links between risk-taking behaviour and personality factors and markers of the function of the serotonin and dopamine systems, and 2) whether a previously used brief intervention to prevent risk-taking behaviour is still successful, if conducted by driving school teachers.
The results revealed that risk-taking has significant links with certain personality traits (e.g., impulsivity, extraversion, effortful control), higher activity of the dopamine system and lower activity of the serotonin system, but also with knowledge and skills.
Practical value: The results confirmed that the brief psychological intervention helps to reduce risk-taking behaviour. The efficiency of the intervention suggests that if the personal and biological factors causing risk-taking behaviour are known, teachers can deal with them. In addition to the knowledge of dangers, different situations need to be practiced and played through to increase the role of conscious behaviour in the decision-making process, and therefore to decrease the influence of unconscious and impulsive decision-making. In addition to the development of technical skills, there is also a need to develop safety-related and social skills associated with this activity.
Contact: kadi.luht-kallas [ät] sisekaitse.ee
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/Kadi_Luht/est?tabId=CV_ENG
It follows, that the training of reserve officers is important for EDF, however, there is only an 11-month training time available for this purpose. During that time, young men, who have no earlier military exposure, have to get the preparation to lead the military unit during the time of war.
The situation is even more complicated, because unlike in the case of other professions, in military profession, commanders cannot practice their job during peacetime other than in military exercises. This however may not provide sufficient authenticity. The same applies to the assessment of learning outcomes – it cannot be done with sufficient credibility. This in turn does not allow to take adequate decisions for enhancing training, selecting right personnel for different jobs and it also discourages research and development in the EDF. Thus, there is a need for a suitable instrument for measuring platoon leaders’ decision-making skills in critical battle leading situations.
The goal of this PhD project is to develop and validate an instrument for measuring low level military commanders decision-making skills in battle leading situations. To accomplish this goal, firstly a systematic literature review was undertaken to determine, what instruments and how had previously been used for the purpose of our interest.
It occurred, that the most suitable and also widely used instrument is the Situational Judgement Test. However, none of the found instruments focused on decision-making in battle leading situations. Thus, suitable instrument for measuring decision-making was designed and applied using a sample of cadets (134) from land forces basic course and conscripts (80) from the reserve commander basic course of the Military Academy of EDF. The developed test was found to produce reliable results, that enabled to distinguish well the test takers on the basis of the level of training and previous experience. It was thus concluded, that the developed test was well-suited to measure the decision-making skills of small unit commanders in battle leading situations.
Practical value: As a practical result of current PhD project, EDF will be able to use the instrument for a variety of purposes, including for example the evaluation and improvement of training as well as research and development. Future research could focus on finding out how well the test results predict commanders’ actual battle leading performance.
Contact: tonis.manniste [ät] mil.ee
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/T%C3%B5nis_M%C3%A4nniste/est?tabId=CV_ENG
Defended on March 30th 2020.
Supervisor: Piret Luik (University of Tartu)
Summary: The concept of cyberbullying is often defined based on and in parallel with the definition of traditional bullying. Cyberbullying researchers have begun to question whether and to what extent criteria specific to traditional bullying apply in the cyber environment. It has been suggested that there might be some cyber-specific criteria; for instance, anonymity and publicity, which could describe bullying that occurs in the cyber world more accurately. Furthermore, researchers have raised the issue of whether the definition of cyberbullying is consistent with how students perceive the phenomenon.
This thesis focuses on how students perceive cyberbullying based on suggested criteria (intentionality, repetition, imbalance of power, publicity, anonymity) and the type of cyberbullying behaviour (written-verbal cyberbullying, visual cyberbullying, impersonation, exclusion). Data was collected via focus group interviews and a questionnaire. In both cases, scenarios were used to collect the data. These scenarios described situations between a victim and a bully that could be considered cyberbullying.
The results of the study showed that two criteria were important for students when labelling scenarios as cyberbullying: imbalance of power and anonymity. In the context of cyberbullying types, it was easier for students to label the visual type and impersonation as cyberbullying and these types were also considered to be more serious than the written-verbal type and exclusion. In terms of gender and age, we found that there were no diametrically opposite differences on how boys and girls and students from different age groups labelled scenarios as cyberbullying based on the criteria. However, differences appeared in how students perceived the severity of the scenarios. In general, boys perceived cyberbullying as more serious than girls, and this was also the case with two cyber-specific criteria (publicity and anonymity). In terms of age, differences in severity evaluations also appeared in the context of cyber-specific criteria. In terms of gender, it seemed that these were more important to younger students (12–13 years) than older students (15–16 years).
Practical value: The practical value of the work lies in providing suggested themes that should be addressed with students at home and in the school environment to help boys and girls and students of different ages cope with the specifics of cyber communication. Furthermore, some recommendations are also provided for the definition and measurement of cyberbullying.
Contact: karin.naruskov [ät] ut.ee
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/Karin_Naruskov/est?tabId=CV_ENG
Defended on November 29th 2019.
Supervisors: Mari Karm (University of Tartu), Liisa Postareff (University of Helsinki)
Summary: The last ten years have been challenging for the graduates’ of higher education. In addition to acquiring a deep understanding of disciplinary knowledge, students are also expected to develop generic skills. These expectations challenge university teaching. This dissertation therefore focused on the relationship between teaching (i.e. the teaching-learning environment of the courses developed by teachers) and: (i) the students’ perceptions of the elements of the teaching-learning environment that enhance or hinder their learning; (ii) the students’ approaches to learning; (iii) the quality of learning outcomes.
The results of this study showed that the more the teachers use learning-focused approach to teaching, the likelier are the students to adopt deep approaches to learning and gain high-quality learning outcomes. The reverse is also valid. The greater is the teachers’ adoption of content-focused approach to teaching, the more likely are students to adopt the surface-approach to learning and obtain low-quality learning outcomes. In addition, this study found that the greater the teachers’ adoption of the content-focused approach to teaching is, the more did students report elements of the teaching-learning environment that hindered their learning.
Practical value: The results of this study suggest that it is insufficient to adopt elements that are inherent to the learning-focused approaches to teaching (e.g. enthusiastic and interesting lectures, variety in the teaching methods, a pleasant atmosphere, authentic and challenging course tasks) to support students’ learning. The teachers’ guidance, and the teaching structure and support for learning are also crucial. Therefore, it is not enough to just change the method of teaching or assessment to support the adoption of deep approaches to learning or the development of high-quality learning outcomes. It is also important to develop a constructive alignment between the elements of the teaching-learning environment, the formulation of the instructions of the assignments and the quality of interaction.
The results of the thesis have been applied to the development of the course feedback questionnaire in the University of Tartu and to the development of the courses for university teachers focusing on the elements of teaching-learning environment that enhance or hinder students’ learning (e.g. the design of the course and developing assignments).
Contact: kaire.uiboleht [ät] ut.ee
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/Kaire_Uiboleht/est?tabId=CV_ENG