Centre for Research on Learning and Instruction (CERLI)

High-level international research at the Centre for Research on Learning and Instruction (CERLI) has its scope on the whole life span.

University of Turku logo and additional text Centre for Research Learning and Instruction

CERLI is research community of the Department of Education, which includes all department staff (including fellowship researchers and visiting researchers) as well as teaching staff in Teacher Training Schools.

CERLI offers a wide range of national and international collaboration possibilities in the field of research on learning and instruction.

CERLI is part of the Department of Teacher Education.

Get to know our research themes and research groups

Early childhood education

Early childhood education

The research group explores new evidence-based ways of supporting early education teachers’ professional development. At present, there is little scientific evidence that early childhood education optimally support learning and development, especially among children who represent culturally and linguistically diverse home backgrounds.

Our main objective is to improve pedagogical sensitivity across multiple interactional settings with children in order to promote their language, social and emotional competence years before school entry in collaboration with the parents. This will be strengthened by supporting leadership and effective collaboration among multiprofessional team members for learning practice-oriented scientific knowledge that specifically target key developmental domains.

Drawing on mixed methods research, we integrate various theoretical paradigms and gold standard methods (observations, self-reports, and interviews) to assess professional competence and child development.

Contact person: Maarit Silvén

Members of the research group:

Maarit Silvén
Inkeri Ruokonen

Anne Sorariutta
Anitta Melasalmi
Liisa Postareff
Satu Laitinen
Janne Lepola
Timo Ruusuvirta
Juli-Anna Aerila
Meri Pihanperä
Wenwen Yang
Alexandra Anton

Education integrating art, craft, design, and technology

Education integrating art, craft, design, and technology 

The research group investigates art, craft, design and technology as explorative, experiential and embodied design and engineering processes and creation of culture in technologically rich formal and informal learning and working environments. The discipline of Craft, Design and Technology Education has several SIG-groups:

  1. Pedagogical and didactical research in CDT education from early childhood, primary, secondary and adult education to higher education 
  2. Innovation pedagogy and eco-social design research
  3. Holistic craft and design in the context of culture creation, wellbeing and action competence 
  4. Enterprise education research
  5. Research on safety culture and safety education in learning and working environments
  6. Research on CDT education as a discipline and a context of pre- and in-service teacher training
  7. For more and detailed information please visit www.utu.fi/CDTE

Doctoral seminar on the first Tuesday of a month during terms in Rauma Campus. Operating language is Finnish, English also possible. An option to join on-line.  Chair of the seminar Dr. Eila Lindfors, Professor in Craft, Design and Technology education. For more information please contact doctoral candidate Sari Saarnilahti, sisand@utu.fi

Contact person: Eila Lindfors

Members of the research group:

Eila Lindfors
Mika Metsärinne
Marja-Leena Rönkkö
Jaana Lepistö
Brita Somerkoski
Matti Waitinen
Antti Pirhonen
Anne Tiikkala
Juha Jaatinen
Matti Pirttimaa
Sari Saarnilahti 
Mikko Puolitaival
Laura-Maija Hero
Jyri Lehtonen 
Sofia Krapi 
Juha Raitinpää
Riina Palkki 
Anna Lundberg

Craft, Design and Technology (CDT) teacher education in the University of Turku


Future citizens’ science literacy and everyday decision-making

The research constitutes a work package within the project Fostering Finnish Science Capital (FINSCI), which is funded by the Strategic Research Council (SRC) established within the Academy of Finland. FINSCI is part of the council’s Information literacy and evidence-informed decision-making (LITERACY) program, which seeks solutions to how information can be used critically and constructively to support individual and societal decision-making and activities.

The research team led by deputy PI Mirjamaija Mikkilä-Erdmann, professor of educational science, focuses on the learning of complicated phenomena in natural sciences and how to support science-based decision-making in daily life. Instructional interventions are used to support science literacy among different age groups of learners from primary education to high school. University students will be invited to participate in a follow-up study of the changes in science capital, science literacy, and agency during their university studies. The interconnections of science capital, science literacy, and decision-making are investigated in all age-groups. The work package uses a multi-method approach.

The work package brings theory and methodology from research in learning complex phenomena as well as learner agency.

>> Read more about the FINSCI project

>> Read more about Mirjamaija Mikkilä Erdmann

Higher education, professional development and workplace learning

Higher education, professional development and workplace learning 

The research group of higher education, professional development and workplace learning focuses on exploring teaching and learning in the contexts of educational institutes and workplaces. The overall aim of the research is to develop conditions for successful teaching and learning in universities and other HE institutions as well as understanding how to support professional development at work.

Firstly, the research focuses on teaching and learning processes (i.e. approaches to teaching and learning, regulation of teaching and learning, conceptual understanding) and on the interaction between them. Secondly, the focus is on investigating the teaching-learning environments and their effects on expertise development. Thirdly, the aim is to study collegial action at workplaces and professional communities.

The group adopts a variety of diverse methodologies, combining self-report data (interviews, questionnaires) with objective online measures, such as physiological data (electrodermal activity) and eye-tracking utilizing also virtual reality environments, as well as using methodological tools developed for units of analysis at collegial level, such as social network analysis. Regarding professional communities and workplace learning, the main focus is on academic professions. 

Contact person: Tuire Palonen

Members of the research group:

Erkki Anto
Mirva Heikkilä 
Neea Heinonen
Laura Helle
Tarja-Riitta Hurme
Samuli Laato
Matti Lappalainen
Emilia Lipponen
Mirjamaija Mikkilä-Erdmann
Mari Murtonen
Siru Myllykoski-Laine
Tuire Palonen
Maikki Pouta
Marjaana Puurtinen
Heidi Salmento
Ilona Södervik
Henna Vilppu
Tuike Iiskala
Erika Österholm

Language learning and teaching

Language learning and teaching

We are a group of researchers and PhD students whose research falls under the large umbrella of applied language study. Currently, we focus on two main areas: language learning and language teaching.

Research on language learning and teaching covers the learning of first, second and third/foreign /additional languages in a wide variety of learning contexts. Potential research themes include language learning and teaching in early foreign language education (varhennettu kielenopetus), in bilingual education (immersion and CLIL) and in preparatory education (Valmo). Typically, research studies in the field apply mixed methods approaches, combining quantitative and qualitative methods, with an emphasis on the latter: classroom-based research, case studies, action research, and design research. Data collection and analysis methods include conversation analysis, observations, interviews and questionnaires. 

Contact person: Heini-Marja Pakula

Members of the research group:

Kaisa Korpinen 
Julia Zhelezovskaia
Heini-Marja Pakula 
Sara Routarinne 

Learning in interaction

Learning in interaction

This research group focuses on collaborative, supportive and individual processes of learning in interaction. Interactions are understood as dynamic, intertwined and systemic processes. Exploring these processes requires developing innovative methodological and analytical approaches besides applying traditional ones.

The theme combines cognitive, metacognitive, motivational, emotional, as well as social and cultural aspects of interaction in learning.The aim is to understand learning during interaction in communities, classrooms, small groups, dyads and individuals or in combination of these. The research designs emphasize micro-level phenomena without excluding large-scale studies. This group aims at scrutinizing interaction in varying learning contexts, such as different school subjects, different levels of education and learning-at-work. The participants of the studies represent different skill levels and age groups ranging from young children and school-aged learners to adults.

The overarching mission of this group is to crystallize interaction patterns beneficial for the development of skills and quality of learning.

Contact person: Tuike Iiskala

Members of the research group:

Tiina Annevirta
Anna Eskola
Olli-Pekka Heinimäki
Pilvi Heinonen
Tarja-Riitta Hurme
Tuike Iiskala
Anu Kajamies
Satu Laitinen

Janne Lepola
Iina Männikkö
Tarja Pietarinen
Sara Routarinne
Anne-Elina Salo
Maarit Silvén
Marja Vauras
Henna Virtanen
Simone Volet
Erika Österholm

Linguistic and cultural diversity and social justice in education

Linguistic and cultural diversity and social justice in education

The research group focuses on the linguistic and cultural diversity, language pedagogies and equity in different educational contexts. The theme combines research on pedagogical aspects of linguistically and culturally responsive teaching and individual learning processes in academically and culturally diverse classrooms.

The aim is to understand teachers’ and students’ intercultural competences and mechanism involved in learning and teaching in linguistically and culturally diverse context as well as processes that support social justice in education and society.  Further, research focuses also on language pedagogies that support learning of diverse students.

The research designs use qualitative, quantitative and mixed method approaches to understand better the interplay of pedagogy, intercultural communication and equity in education.

Contact person: Elisa Repo

Members of the research group:

Jenni Alisaari
Heli Vigren
Tarja-Riitta Hurme
Elisa Repo
Niina Kekki 
Sara Routarinne
Julia Zhelezovskaia

Our research projects

  1. Linguistically and culturally responsive pedagogy: Finnish teachers’ and teacher students’ attitudes, knowledge and practices and methods for supporting students’ diverse identities and their learning outcomes: We have collected and will be collecting different data sets and we are working with this topic focusing on several sub-topics. This research is done in collaboration with the universities of Åbo Akademi, Lüneburg, Indianapolis, and Lincoln, Nebraska and with an international research networks OPETAN (Observation of Pedagogical Excellence in Teaching Across Nations) and MultiTED: Multilingualism in Teacher Education (in collaboration with university of Jyväskylä). People working in this project are Jenni Alisaari, Heli Vigren, Tarja-Riitta Hurme, Sara Routarinne, Elisa Repo and Niina Kekki.
  2. Competence for Finnish as a second language teaching: We are investigating, what kind of competences do teacher students have in teaching Finnish as a second language learners. This research is done in collaboration with the universities of Lüneburg and Toronto. People working in this project: Jenni Alisaari
  3. The academic and social integration of refugee youth in Canadian schools and in Europe. The research project focuses on the academic and social integration of refugee youth in Canadian schools and in Europe. The aim is to gain a better understanding of their integration trajectories. This research is done in collaboration with the University of Toronto. People working in this project: Jenni Alisaari
  4. Developing research tools for exploring the needs of school leaders leading increasingly multilingual school communities. This pilot will aim to develop research tools for exploring the following Research Questions: What has changed for the school leaders in London/Turku over the last 10 years in terms of multilingual learners? What are the relevant priority needs re multilingual learners of school leaders in London/Turku? How does the practice of London school leaders compare to practice of school leaders in Turku, Finland? What good practice can be shared between these two contexts? This research is done in collaboration with the University College London. People working in this project: Jenni Alisaari
  5. Finnish language learning by singing, listening to songs and reciting song lyrics. We are investigating how three teaching methods (singing, listening to songs, and reciting song lyrics) are linked to the development of Finnish language (spoken & written language). This research is done in collaboration with the Åbo Akademi University. People working in this project: Jenni Alisaari
  6. Reading comprehension skills of Finnish as a second language learners in ALLU-test. We are looking at how different background factors influence reading comprehension skills of F2-learners, and how the primary school reading comprehension test can be or cannot be used for describing the skills of F2-learners. This research is done in collaboration with the Department of Psychology. People working in this project: Jenni Alisaari
  7. Finnish as second/additional language development in middle childhood. Based on longitudinal video recordings, we explore learning-in-action among newly arrived immigrant children in one of their natural habitats, the school. The study aims at understanding a social learning environment and generic interactional competence as affordances in language development. People working in this project: Sara Routarinne
  8. Information and communication technology (ICT) in foreign language classrooms focuses on how teachers use ICT in instruction, what challenges they encounter, what training teachers are provided with, how the learning material supports teachers in using ICT and what attitudes teachers share toward ICT use. People working in this project: Julia Zhelezovskaia
  9. Realities Behind Second-Generation Migrants’ Educational Success in Finlandfocuses on the reality behind second-generation migrants’ educational success in Finland. The aim is to understand factors determining second-generation migrants’ learning achievements and demonstrate how practices valuing linguistic diversity should be strengthened to ensure successful learning for multilingual students. People working in this project: Elisa Repo
Mathematical learning 

Mathematical learning 

The Mathematical Learning group is a collection of researchers investigating various aspects of mathematical learning and instruction from early childhood to adulthood.

A core feature of the group is combining expertise across the spectrum of educational and psychological research. From large-scale professional development courses to neuroimaging, the group aims to examine the learning and teaching processes that influence mathematical development and look for empirically validated means to improve learning for all.

The group’s motto “Cultivating Future Mathematical Minds” embodies their approach to mathematics education as one that aims to seek out new models for approaching instruction and new indicators of success in the domain. A strong emphasis is placed on spontaneous mathematical focusing tendencies, expanding mathematical instruction beyond formal learning settings and supporting flexible mathematical knowledge and skills that can be applied in novel situations.

Contact person: Minna Hannula-Sormunen

Members of the research group: 

Minna Hannula-Sormunen 
Anne Sorariutta 
Anu Tuominen 
Çiğdem Haser 
Cristina Nanu 
Edith Syrjälä
Erno Lehtinen
Heidi Kukkakorpi
Hilma Halme 
Jake McMullen 
Janne Lepola 
Jo Van Hoof
Katri Luomaniemi 
Nonmanut Pongsakdi 
Phuong Bui 
Saku Määttä 
Sanni Kankaanpää
Tomi Kärki 

Sustainability education and sustainable pedagogies

Sustainability education and sustainable pedagogies

One of the goals for the future is a sustainable society reached through a process called sustainable development. The concept of sustainable development is based on the concept of socio-economic development in line with ecological constraints, the concept of needs - redistribution of resources to ensure the quality of life for all - and the concept of future generations.

Sustainability education provides learning, training, and practical experience, in both formal and non-formal settings, that foster personal development, community involvement, and action for change in our human and natural worlds. The education for sustainable development and sustainability are ways getting people understand the complexity of the environment and to adapt their activities and to pursue their development in ways which are harmonious with the environment. Education at all levels (e.g. school, universities) plays a crucial role in constructing sustainable societies.

The research in this study group focuses on student teachers’ and on students’ awareness, conceptions and concepts of human environmental relationships in domains of environmental or ecological, social, cultural and economic sustainability.

Contact person: Eija Yli-Panula

Members of the research group:

Eija Yli-Panula 
Eila Matikainen 
Heini-Marja Pakula 
Pekka Tolonen 

Teaching and teacher education

Teaching and teacher education

The research group gathers together researchers who are interested in investigating teaching and teacher education. Teacher education is seen as a continuum where the integration of research and practice at all stages of teachers’ professional learning is emphasized.

Our aim is to develop understanding of the processes of professional learning in order to provide effective guidance for pre-service and in–service teachers and teacher educators who are seeking to strengthen their practice at all career stages. Other important contributions relate to research on teaching practice in collaboration with the Department’s Teacher Training Schools in Turku and Rauma.

The research group highlights teachers’ capacities to adapt changing school contexts, curricula and policy demands. Many theoretical stances are welcomed and both quantitative and qualitative methods are applied diversely. 

Contact person: Mirva Heikkilä

Members of the research group:

Päivi Granö
Serja Turunen
Mirva Heikkilä
Anni Holmström
Jukka Husu
Tuike Iiskala
Anna-Maija Katajisto
Teija Koskela
Juhani Lehtonen
Marko Lähteenmäki
Ville Mankki
Anitta Melasalmi
Mirjamaija Mikkilä-Erdmann
Iina Männikkö
Jaanet Salminen

Brita Somerkoski
Mikko Tiilikainen
Mirjam Virtanen

Technology enhanced learning and science education

Technology enhanced learning and science education

Research focusing on technology enhanced learning environments covers age groups from primary education to adult education; in general focusing on digital pedagogy, and in  particular on  motivation, interest, and teaching and learning in digital learning environments. 

The general focus of the research on science has been on interactive learning environments (e.g. simulations). Individual studies and projects have focused on the role of pedagogy in these interactive learning settings, for instance between different types of simulations (more concrete or abstract), different pedagogical support (level of guidance), measuring effects on learning outcomes and interactions within and between settings and motivational variables. 

Contact person: Marjaana Veermans

Members of the research group:

Marjaana Veermans
Tomi Jaakkola
Koen Veermans
Aleksi Lahti
Jussi-Pekka Järvinen
Erkka Laine
Miikka Korventausta
Jenni Airola
Jesper Lempiäinen
Thang Nguyen