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Mari-Pauliina Vainikainen: Educational equality as a subject of assessment research

Published on 14.6.2022
Tampere University
Mari-Pauliina Vainikainen is Professor of learning and instruction at the Faculty of Education and Culture. She conducts educational assessment research with a desire to understand the factors that affect how and what children and young people learn in school.

According to Vainikainen, the goal of educational assessment studies conducted in Finland is usually to find out if our school system is still compatible with the ideal of equality that it was once built on.

“However, it is surprisingly hard to pinpoint what we should actually measure if we want to judge the equality of our system.”

She and her group have created a multi-level theoretical model to illustrate how local, national and global goals and ideologies are essentially connected to the performance of an individual pupil and their learning potential in everyday life.

Vainikainen is currently involved in a project focusing on the digitalization of education. According to her, multidisciplinary, broadly-based cooperation is important when dealing with questions that are very commonplace and overarching on the one hand, but in which different solutions can lead to totally different outcomes affecting the lives of children and young people. 

“No single theory alone can describe all the different factors that simultaneously affect what and how we learn and what is the role of the school as a learning facilitator. Due to this, one of the key goals set by my research group and I is this kind of theoretical analysis to try to understand what should actually be measured in educational assessment studies if we want to draw conclusions about educational equality.”

Mari-Pauliina Vainikainen's contact information