Educational research on COVID-19 in the Spring Day

The Faculty of Education at the University of Turku held the “Spring Day” event on the 8th of April, 2021. During the event, our EqualISM-research project organized a symposium entitled “Research on the COVID19-pandemic in the Faculty of Education”. In the symposium, recent research from the Department of Teacher Education, Turku and Rauma, and from the Department of Education was presented. The four presentations included research on university and school teacher’s, international students’, and mother’s early pandemic experiences.

Focus on experiences

Ciğdem Haser presented a study conducted with Lauri Lehtonen and Marjaana Veermans on university teachers’ early pandemic experiences in transitioning to online modes of teaching. With a survey method, they studied the main challenges the teaching staff faced during the transition to remote teaching and how the possible prior of remote teaching affected teacher’s approaches to remote learning.

Kalypso Filippou and Suvi Jokila presented their survey study on the international students’ early pandemic experiences in Finland, which focused on the social and financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic to international students. They were interested in how changes that the pandemic and particularly the policy responses had in everyday living affected international degree and exchange students.

Pamela-Zoe Topalli and Venla Panula discussed their research about the experiences of working and studying mothers during the pandemic in different lockdown systems in cooperation with Nelli Lyyra (University of Jyväskylä) and Angeliki Kallitsoglou (Roehampton University). The online survey provided the space for mothers to voice their thoughts and concerns and the ways of coping during the state of emergency in three countries Finland, Greece and the UK. The researchers aimed to gain a better understanding about the nature of the challenges and emotions experienced by working mothers and the ways it has impacted on their well-being and family life.

Çiğdem Haser, representing her research team including Oğuzhan Doğan and Gönül Kurt Erhan, held the last presentation of the symposium. This research was focusing on understanding how the mathematics teachers taught mathematics during the pandemic in Turkey. The focus of this interview study was on the loss of learning and trying to explore reasons for this, in terms of middle school mathematics teacher’s practices and efforts. The researchers were interested to know how the teachers switched to remote teaching once the pandemic and homeschooling started, and what were their remote mathematics teaching practices. Researchers also wanted to know what factors affected the teacher’s practices during the remote teaching.

Shared interests

Anne Laiho acted as a discussant in the symposium summarizing the main points presented. Equality and the unequal effects of the COVID-19 pandemic was a common theme in the symposiums presentations. All the presenters agreed on how the pandemic has made the previously hidden inequalities in societies to be more visible and even magnified by the events related to this pandemic. Because of the students staying at home and starting remote learning unexpectedly, many problems occurred. The lack of resources influenced difficulties taking place in the lives of students, teachers and families, both nationally and globally. Research of this pandemic and its effects on people, families, education, and learning is needed now and in the future. These research datasets from the early days of the pandemic offer valuable information about the consequence of this global event, possibly leading into new ways to ensure better equality in societies in the future. There is a great deal of research needed to understand the effects of this pandemic to different groups of people including within education.

Our research team would like to thank all the presenters and the audience who took part in the symposium. Almost 60 students, administrative, research and teaching staff attended the symposium, and the feedback was very positive. Lastly, all the presenters acknowledged the importance of this kind of events and collaboration between the departments.

Featured papers:

Çiğdem Haser, Lauri Lehtonen and Marjaana Veermans: Transition to remote teaching due to COVID-19 Experiences of the university teaching staff

Kalypso Filippou and Suvi Jokila: The unequal effects of the pandemic: International students’ early pandemic experiences in Finland

Pamela-Zoe Topalli and Venla Panula: Pandemic mood: the views of working and studying mothers about coping with the challenges of the pandemic in different lockdown systems

Çiğdem Haser, Oğuzhan Doğan and Gönül Kurt Erhan: Teaching mathematics during pandemic in Turkey

Text by Anna Jolkkonen