Doctoral Theses in Educational Science
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 47 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.
List of doctoral students
Multilevel context: Handling with school bullying among Estonian teachers and non-teaching staff members
Supervisors: Kristi Kõiv (University of Tartu), Matti Meriläinen (University of Eastern Finland)
Summary: The aim of the research is to examine teachers’ and non-teaching staff members’ ways of preventing and handling school bullying in three levels (school, classroom, and individual level) of school context. Research focuses on (1) how teachers and non-teaching staff members collaboratively prevent and handle school bullying, and (2) which school context multilevel factors may influence these actions.
Practical value: The research identifies good educational practices in school bullying intervention, which give a framework for the establishment of an evidence-based teacher training course. Research findings are exploitable in at least three ways: preventing bullying at schools, in in-service training as well as in pre-service training of teachers and non-teaching staff members.
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/Minni_Aia-Utsal/est?tabId=CV_ENG
School heads' practices, job stress and factors influencing it
Supervisors: Hasso Kukemelk, Emanuele Bardone (University of Tartu)
Summary: Job demands of school heads keep changing to meet societal needs, but factors related to their health and satisfaction, which ensure continuous provision of quality education delivery, have not been given due research recognition, especially in the context of Ghana. Consequently, school leaders are becoming more selective in performing their functions as a result of job stress and low satisfaction. The aim of the dissertation therefore, is to provide an overview of the profile of activities performed by school heads, how burdensome the tasks are and to identify the factors contributing to (influencing) job stress, job satisfaction and performance of practices.
Practical value: The outcome of the thesis will inform school leaders and education policy makers on core practices performed by heads in schools, their perception about such practices, the factors that contribute to their well-being and how to develop and organize school management teams for quality education delivery.
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/Innocent%20kwame_Bedi/eng
Social-Emotional Skills Assessment in Primary and Basic Education
Supervisors: Äli Leijen (University of Tartu), Aleksandar Baucal (University of Belgrade)
Summary: Social-emotional skills contribute to academic success, employability and mental and physical well-being. However, the assessment of these skills is still associated with several conceptual and methodological challenges. Secondly, digitally-enhanced learning environments in schools could promote the development of social-emotional skills among students, but whether or not it happens depends on the design and use of those digital tools.
Therefore, the first goal of the project is to develop a conceptual framework and assessment instruments of student's social-emotional skills. The second goal is to specify the elements of digitally rich learning environments, which support the development of social and emotional skills.
Practical value: The results will broaden the understanding of the elements and best practices of digitally rich learning environments for developing students' social and emotional skills.
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/Piret_Einpaul/est?tabId=CV_ENG
Development of students' entrepreneurial competences in different stages of basic school
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.
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/K%C3%BClli_Hiiem%C3%A4e-Metsar/est?tabId=CV_ENG
Teachers’ professional development with the support of feedback in learning analytics enhanced electronic portfolio
Supervisors: Äli Leijen (University of Tartu), Marieke van der Schaaf (Utrecht University)
Summary: The aim of the dissertation is to define the professional activities that teachers carry out in the workplace, to develop and test the learning analytics enhanced e-portfolio designed to improve the feedback at the workplace. The dissertation also aims to understand teachers’ perceptions of the feedback provided and received by the means of learning analytics enhanced e-portfolio in order to improve their professional activities.
Practical value: The practical value of this doctoral thesis lies in the developed rubric for evaluating teachers’ professional activities and in the developed and tested e-portfolio enhanced with learning analytics (including visual and automated feedback).
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/Pihel_Hunt/est?tabId=CV_ENG
Effective interventions for systematic use of mobile learning in science learning process
Supervisor: Margus Pedaste (University of Tartu)
Summary: The aim of this doctoral thesis is to develop and test evidence-based interventions using mobile learning technologies to provide conceptual framework for using mobile learning technologies in science learning.
Practical value: Framework for using mobile learning technologies in science learning.
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/K%C3%BClli_Kallas/est?tabId=CV_ENG
Primary school teachers’ understanding of nature of science and changes in their understanding after a scientifically justified intervention
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.
Further information: https://www.ut.ee/en/aigi-kikkas
Multilingual and multicultural school models for Estonia
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.
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/Laura_Kirss/est?tabId=CV_ENG
Supporting professional development of school teams in the implementation of inclusive education through in-service training in the Estonian context
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.
Mathematical learning disability, early identification and intervention strategies
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.
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/Triin_Kivir%C3%A4hk/est?tabId=CV_ENG
Improving inclusive education for children with autism spectrum disorders
Supervisor: Evelyn Kiive (University of Tartu)
Summary: The purpose of this study is to improve inclusive education for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) by helping teachers implement the structured teaching components of the TEACCH program. As the prevalence gets higher and a higher number of children with ASD are learning in mainstream schools, teachers need more help in order to provide the best outcomes. One way to help teachers is to give them theoretical knowledge about the TEACCH program and help them implement structured teaching components. It could be the key to academic success of a child with ASD.
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.
Assessing and developing the self-directed learning skills of young people not in education and working (NEET) to support their continuation of their learning path
Supervisor: Katrin Saks (University of Tartu)
Summary: Self-directed learning (SDL) has become more relevant over time. At the same time the low level of education of the population, drop-out rates and low participation in lifelong learning are challenges in the society. Increasing the return to education is a national goal. The aim of the doctoral study is to create an assessment and intervention tool to increase young people’s, especially those who have dropped out from education, SDL skills and participation in lifelong learning, and support their return to education.
Practical value: As a result of the research, a self-report questionnaire to assess SDL will be created and validated, and a prototype of an intervention tool will be designed and piloted. These tools will be developed to be used by professionals who work with young people and whose work aims to support young people’s return to education.
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/Kerli_Kõiv001/est?tabId=CV_ENG
Energy concept in teaching and learning
Supervisors: Heili Kasuk (University of Tartu); Vladislav Ivaništšev (University of Tartu), Rachel Mamlok-Naaman (The Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel)
Summary: The European Green Pact Action Plan says there should be no net greenhouse gas emissions throughout the European Union by the year 2050.
The Estonian Education Development Plan 2021-2035 has already taken steps to make changes for climate neutrality, stating in its framework document that the education sector contributes to raising awareness of the state of the environment, sustainable development and energy-efficient infrastructure. The Estonian Ministry of Education and Research wants to find a common ground in co-operation with the starting points of the energy economy development plan for improving energy education, especially in the form of closer co-operation between companies and educational institutions.
The training of future professionals in the field of energy should be based on labor market expectations (problem-solving learning, in which tasks focus on solving everyday societal problems in a collaborative way) and modern learning approaches that integrate field subjects and use smart learning resources.
Studies conducted among students in several high schools show that students do not have a common understanding of energy processes. This doctoral study project makes it possible to find out the misconceptions about basic knowledge related to energy already in the beginning, i.e. at the basic school level. Based on the results, this situation can be assessed and, if necessary, changes can be made in the teaching process (curriculum, planning, output, lessons, etc.) so that we could have a large energy-speaking audience in the future, which could lead to a greener and more sustainable lifestyle.
Practical value: Due to misunderstandings in the concept of energy, there is a plan to develop a study module with practical content, which would focus on energy topics throughout the scientific discipline in order to avoid misunderstandings on energy teaching and learning process.
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/Lauri_K%C3%B5lamets/est?tabId=CV_ENG
Childhood apraxia of speech: Incidence and assessment in Estonian children
Supervisors: Marika Padrik (University of Tartu), Marja-Liisa Mailend (University of Tartu)
Summary: The aim of the doctoral thesis is to describe how childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) manifests in Estonian speaking children, and to develop of a primary assessment tool for differential diagnosis of CAS and other speech-sound disorders.
Practical value: The aim of this thesis is to provide Estonian speech-language pathologists proper tools for assessing speech-sound disorders, including childhood apraxia of speech. Such information enables speech-language pathologists to make the right choices when planning intervention strategies.
Possibilities of Learning Analytics (LA) to support teacher's professional development and application for occupational qualifications
Supervisors: Katrin Saks (University of Tartu), Irene-Angelica Chounta
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.
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/Tiiu_Leibur/est?tabId=CV_ENG
Quality criteria of development and evaluation model of implementation for learning material of kindergarten and primary school
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.
Further information: https://etis.ee/CV/Heily_Leola001/est?tabId=CV_ENG
Situational interest and engagement in project based learning
Supervisors: Kaido Reivelt (University of Tartu), Jari Lavonen (University of Helsinki)
Summary: The goal of the thesis is to measure the immediate interest of students in physics lessons. Because the declining interest in physics has been a long-term problem, it is important that the impact of the methods designed to solve this problem are measured as accurately as possible. Usually, surveys have been used to measure interest, which students fill some time after the lesson itself and so part of the lesson experience is lost (students can't recall everything that they felt at the time). During the PhD studies, situational interest is measured using ESM (experience sampling method), which can be used during lessons and does not require lab conditions.
Practical value: The practical output of this thesis is a measuring tool that can be easily used to measure the situational interest of students in lessons. It will give the teacher an opportunity to test different teaching methods to find the best balance between student interest/engagement and effort required of the teacher for preparation.
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/Rauno_Neito/eng
Framework of inclusive education in the early childhood education
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.
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/Pille_Villems/eng
Teacher–student relationships in class and opportunities to develop supportive relationships in Estonian middle school
Supervisors: Liina Lepp (University of Tartu), Äli Leijen (University of Tartu)
Summary: The aim of this doctoral thesis will be to identify Estonian teachers’ and students' perceptions about the nature of their relationships and to develop a teacher-training course to improve the relationship between the teacher and the students. Another purpose is also to evaluate the impact of this teacher-training course. The QTI (Questionnaire on Teacher Interaction) will be used to collect data from teachers as well as their students and a systematic review of literature of effective methodologies to support the relationship between teachers and students will be conducted. A teacher-training course will also be developed and its impact on teacher-student relations measured.
Practical value: The practical value of the doctoral thesis in the Estonian context is to identify and describe the relations between Estonian teachers and students, and to provide further training for Estonian teachers based on theoretical backgrounds. In the international context, the results of this doctoral thesis describe not only the assessment of the relationship between the teacher and the students, but also the intervention in improving relationships and evaluating the impact of interventions.
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/Kristi_Kollo/est?tabId=CV_ENG
A theoretical framework for supporting the development of students’ 21st century skills in technology-enhanced inquiry-based science contexts
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.
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/Meeli_Rannastu/est?tabId=CV_ENG
Uncertainty of technology use in higher secondary education
Supervisor: Emanuele Bardone (University of Tartu)
Summary: The main goal of this project is to reach a better understanding as to the significance that uncertainty of technology use has specifically in education in order to better equip educational practitioners as well as educational institutions (e.g. schools) to deal with it, focusing on higher secondary education. The project is supposed to shed light on:
- the different dimensions of uncertainty of technology use affecting Higher Secondary Education teachers and students;
- how Higher Secondary Education teachers and students deal with uncertainty of technology use;
- how educational institutions support Higher Secondary Education teachers and students in facing uncertainty of technology use.
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.
A methodological framework for orchestrating computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) activities for STEAM in K-12 with intelligent virtual agents
Supervisor: Irene-Angelica Chounta
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.
Practical value: The outcome of this thesis will support STEAM education. Teachers and other stakeholders can use it as a reference point to further develop computer supported collaborative learning activities under the developed framework. Moreover, this will foster the creativity of instructional designers who are involved in STEAM projects by using the proposed combination of music and mathematics.
Further information: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Eric_Roldan_Roa
Doctoral students’ and supervisors experiences of the ethical aspects of doctoral studies
Supervisors: Erika Löfström (University of Helsinki), Marvi Remmik (University of Tartu)
Summary: The thesis aims to understand doctoral students' and supervisors' experiences of doctoral education through the perspective of ethical principles.
Practical value: Understanding doctoral students’ and supervisors’ experiences from an ethical perspective contributes to a better understanding of the complexities of the doctoral experience and sheds light on why doctoral studies may fail in efficiency. The thesis emphasizes the need to integrate ethical considerations when creating and implementing procedures, rules and policies for doctoral education.
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/Liana_Roos/est?tabId=CV_ENG
Promoting science career awareness through transdisciplinary settings – implication on students’ science competence development and self-efficacy beliefs
Supervisors: Miia Rannikmäe (University of Tartu), Regina Soobard (University of Tartu), Jari Lavonen (University of Helsinki)
Summary: The research project is targeting issues in science education related to irrelevance of school science in eyes of students and due to that lacking students choosing science related careers. The goals of the project are a) to determine the impact of student perceived motivation, self-efficacy and STEM-career awareness on cognitive learning for STEM competence through undertaking secondary data analyses based on e-testing across school levels; b) to develop a theoretically justified framework and interventions for promoting STEM- career awareness in transdisciplinary settings alongside conceptualization of core ideas within STEM subjects among grade 10-12 students and c) to develop analytical strategies for determining students’ understandings about core ideas in science.
The target group for research are gymnasium students from grade 10. A novel longitude intervention will be designed through 2 years to promote science competence development, science career awareness and students' motivation to learn. Science competence will be measured through e-tests in science and based on multilevel analyses theoretical model for intervention design will be proposed.
Practical value: As a practical output of the work, a theoretically justified model is completed, on the basis of which it is possible to predict the development of science competence and the factors influencing it in a transdisciplinary learning environment. The data and model obtained as a result of the doctoral thesis can be used in the teaching of natural sciences and to support development of students` conceptualization of core ideas in science in upper secondary schools.
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/Anne%20Mari_Roost/eng
Estonian science teacher beliefs about teaching and assessment in light of competence-based, science e-testing (CBSeT) and classroom development of curriculum-based, scientific competences
Supervisors: Katrin Vaino (University of Tartu), Regina Soobard (University of Tartu), Miia Rannikmäe (University of Tartu)
Summary: The aim of this study is to recognise the extent to which teachers’ existing beliefs towards CBSeT enables them to promote curriculum-based scientific competences among students.
Practical value: The practical value of this doctoral thesis is to support the professional development of science teachers in teaching and assessing scientific competences, taking into account their existing beliefs.
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/Triin_Tarv/est?tabId=CV_ENG
Role of motivation in computer-based testing
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).
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/Gerli_Silm/est?tabId=CV_ENG
Aspects shaping teaching conceptions of PhD students
Supervisors: Mari Karm (University of Tartu), Torgny Roxå (Lund University)
Summary: The aim of the doctoral thesis is to find out the significance of different aspects that shape the teaching conceptions and development of PhD students’ teaching skills.
Practical value: The aim of the thesis is to provide an empirical basis for discussions between doctoral studies’ stakeholders concerning teaching in universities, and to provide recommendations for the pedagogical course aimed at PhD students and PhD curriculum development.
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/Triinu_Soomere/eng?lang=ENG
Motivation to learn mathematics in primary school: Insights into the Estonian context
Supervisors: Äli Leijen (University of Tartu), Krista Uibu (University of Tartu), Jelena Radišic (University of Oslo)
Summary: The main focus of the current PhD study will be on investigating factors affecting development of motivation in mathematics in primary education in Estonia. Measures used in study are developed in international project MATHMot.
Practical value: The practical value of the thesis lies in understanding how individual, contextual and policy factors affect motivation in mathematics for both boys and girls.
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/Maarja_S%C3%B5rmus/est?tabId=CV_ENG
Next generation e-Learning environments in physics education
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.
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/Ly_S%C3%B5%C3%B5rd/est?tabId=CV_ENG
Model of relevant teaching-learning environment in science and factors influencing it perceived by Estonian lower secondary school students
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.
Further information: https://www.etis.ee/CV/Moonika_Teppo/est?tabId=CV_ENG