FinEd Newsletter 2023 – Year in Review

The year 2023 saw FinEd continuing its work of supporting PhD researchers in our member universities, as well as facilitating co-operation between member universities as regards doctoral education. In this newsletter, we take a look at the year 2023 and its activities. We also extend our warmest thank-yous to everyone who participated in our events in 2023 and wish everyone a Happy New Year 2024.

Responsibility for steering FinEd 

The University of Helsinki has been responsible for steering FinEd activities during the two-year period of 2022–2023, with Vice-Dean, Prof. Auli Toom as chair. Auli will continue to represent University of Helsinki on the steering board, as responsibility for steering FinEd activities is handed over to University of Eastern Finland for 2024–2025. We thank Auli for her hard work during these two years, and welcome Prof. Markku Niemivirta as the new chair. Anna Rawlings continues as FinEd project coordinator. 

FinEd Online Research Talks

The FinEd Online Research Talk events – FORT for short – launched in 2022 were continued in 2023. The FORT events comprise keynote talks from professors and other researchers from member universities on their ongoing research. The series has provided us with a new way of reaching out to doctoral researchers as well as the academic community more broadly. The FORT events also raise awareness of FinEd and showcase the broad range of research done within our network. 

In the spring term of 2023, our FORT speakers included Professors Pirjo Aunio (University of Helsinki) on Relationships between children’s early numeracy, physical activity and motor skills learning; Tero Järvinen (University of Turku) on The significance of socioeconomic background for the educational dispositions and aspirations of Finnish comprehensive school leavers; and Maija Lanas (University of Oulu) on Decentering the adult and problematising the production of child in education. In the autumn term, Research Coordinator Milla Saajanaho PhD (University of Jyväskylä) gave a talk on Agency and developmental regulation in late adulthood, and Associate Professor Vesa Korhonen (Tampere University) on Towards recognizing the possible interrelated connections between student engagement and well-being within higher education studies

The 2024 season of FORT events will be kicked off on Monday 22 January 2024, at 12 o’clock (noon) by Professor Sara Routarinne (University of Turku) with her talk entitled Learning-in-interaction: what makes video observations powerful for studying teaching and learning? The abstract and zoom link of Prof. Routarinne’s upcoming talk can be found on our website – you are warmly welcome to come along!

Writing workshop for doctoral researchers, 15-16 August

Our annual scientific writing workshop was again arranged at the beautiful, inspiring Hanaholmen Conference Center in Espoo, with 24 PhD-researcher participants mentored by five senior mentors. Workshop activities included two keynote speeches, How to cultivate wellbeing during the doctoral studies? from Prof. Kirsi Pyhältö (University of Helsinki) and Writing the summary for the article-based PhD thesis from Vice-Dean, Prof. Auli Toom (University of Helsinki), as well as group work with mentors on participants’ abstracts and article manuscripts, and time set aside for networking, sharing experiences with peers, and making new friends. We received some very positive feedback for the workshop, as well as a few suggestions for making it even better. As before, we will take these into account when planning and organising the 2024 workshop. 

“The support I received was specific and will advance my research in a concrete way. The workshop is definitely one of the highlights in my PHD journey.” 

“The networking part was the most important for me and found the small group sessions about abstracts really nice and good in atmosphere, I think my horizons really widened during this workshop and all the perspectives that I got from everyone.” 

We really had time to connect and network during the two days, and the atmosphere was nice and not too busy for a creative state-of-mind to develop. Altogether, this was a very pleasant and inspiring event. I will definitely recommend it to peers.” – Feedback comments from participants

Focus on Open Science in the Field of Educational Sciences – FinEd preseminar at the FERA Educational Research days, Åbo Akademi University, 22 November

The 2023 preseminar comprised two keynote speeches and a structured workshop on the topics covered in the talks. Dr Sami Syrjämäki (Head of Publications, Federation of Finnish Learned Societies) opened the preseminar with a talk on Contemporary Trends in Scholarly Publishing, followed by Professor Erika Löfström’s (University of Helsinki) talk entitled Open science – open ethics? After a break and some light refreshments, participants reconvened to work on designing their own open science plans in small groups, and finally sharing insights and new ideas with everyone. 

We are learning that for many PhD researchers, the opportunity to meet, interact, and network with others who are working on their PhDs is one of the most important things that FinEd can provide, as illustrated by this participant comment:

“I found the seminar interesting, actually more interesting than I had thought in advance because many of the issues are already familiar to me. I wish that there would have been more time for interaction and discussion with other doctoral researchers because that is what made to attend the preseminar in the first place.” – Feedback comment from participant

We will keep the importance of peer connections in mind when planning and implementing future activities.

“Tohtorikoulutus tulevaisuudessa” (“Doctoral education in the future”) lunch meeting

Having examined and compared the criteria for article-based doctoral theses in member universities in 2022, members of FinEd’s steering group collected information on these criteria from international benchmark universities during the summer and autumn of 2023. Both the national and international data were collated and presented at a lunch meeting for member universities’ heads of doctoral programmes, vice-deans for research, and professors with extensive experience is supervising doctoral theses, at the FERA Education Science Days on November 23, 2023. We plan to make these lunch meetings a regular, annual event, with a view to facilitating and supporting open discussion and co-operation between member universities.

Other activities

FinEd funded an early-career-researcher keynote speech at the FERA Education Science days at Åbo Akademi University on 24 November 2024. Dr Anne-Elina Salo PhD (University of Turku, University of Jyväskylä) spoke on the topic Sosiaalisesti kestävää tulevaisuutta rakennetaan yhdessä: Miten jokainen kasvatuksen kentillä voisi tulla nähdyksi, kuulluksi ja ymmärretyksi? (”Socially sustainable future is built together: How can everyone in the field of education be seen, heard, and understood?”).

As in previous years, FinEd gave a greeting at the opening of the Media Education Conference MEC2023, hosted and organized by the Media Education Hub at the University of Lapland, on 25 September.