School settings: Teachers as trustees

The starting point of the study is the idea that despite the influence of peers and media is strong, trustees still have an essential role in giving directions for the adolescents in information evaluation and assessing cognitive authorities. A young person typically considers a teacher as a trustee, especially when choosing credible sources of information (Pettinghill 2006). Trustees are people, who often act as a kind of authorities as they are able to provide both trustworthiness and expertise in information evaluation and establishing credibility (Jessen & Jørgensen, 2012). Constantly changing multimodal media environments require expertise to seek, construe and understand information. The concept of multiliteracies indicates literacy skills, which are needed in the interpretation of a wide range of communication channels and the media as well as culturally and linguistically diverse texts (The New London Group 1996; Cope & Kalantzis 2009). The recently introduced Finnish National Core Curriculum for basic education includes multiliteracies as one of its pervasive learning focuses. Multiliteracies refers to the ability to explicate, produce and evaluate different texts. (FNBE 2016.) Along with the new literacy practices, teachers’ traditional work is transforming as today, they may equally participate in reflecting, knowledge building and meaning making processes together with students (Giroux 1988; Suoranta 2005; Freire & Clarke 1998).

In this sub-project PhD student Tuula Nygård examines how health education teachers guide their students to make choices between information sources and how they help the students to evaluate these sources critically. This multidisciplinary study employs viewpoints of educational sciences and information studies to health communication and teaching. The study’s theoretical background is based on the concept of cognitive authority, which is explored in the context of multiliteracies with emphasis on information seeking and evaluation skills, and critical literacy.

The teacher’s role as a trustee is examined by analyzing the observation data, which were collected in three schools during health education lessons when students worked in groups on themes like diets, chronic and infectious diseases, physical activity, and screen time. The aim is to enlighten teachers’ activities in the teamwork situations, and the discussions between the teacher and the students. It is also of interest to find out, how the teacher’s empirical knowledge of health issues is mediated to the students. In the next stages of the study, the analysis will be deepened by interviewing health education teachers and joining in the virtual teacher network. The analysis method is nexus analysis that is utilized as an encompassing methodological strategy, complemented by other analysis methods if needed (Scollon & Scollon 2004). Besides the teacher role as a trustee, the study aims to examine how multiliteracies can be developed and literacy skills maintained in health education. Another practical aim is to explore how digitality can be utilized rationally and appropriately in the school context. Moreover, the English term trustee does not yet have a good Finnish translation in the context of this study and therefore, one goal is to improve the expressions used in this regard.

Publications connected to this sub-study:

Nygård T., Hirvonen N., Räisänen, S., & Korkeamäki, R.-L. (2020). Ask your mother! Teachers’ informational authority roles in information-seeking and evaluation tasks in health education lessons. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 1-14. doi: 10.1080/00313831.2020.1788145. You can read the article here.

Hirvonen, N., Nygård, T., Palmgren-Neuvonen, L., Huhta, A-M., & Huotari, M-L. (2019) Finnish school health education viewed through an information literacy lens. Proceedings of the European Conference on Information Literacy 2018. Springer International Publishing, Cham, Switzerland (Communications in Computer and Information Science). You can read the article here.


Cope, B., & Kalantzis, M. (2009). “Multiliteracies”: New literacies, new learning. Pedagogies: An international journal, 4(3), 164-195.

FNBE. (2016). National core curriculum for basic education 2014. Helsinki: Finnish National Board of Education.

Freire, P. & Clarke, P. (1998). Pedagogy of freedom: Ethics, democracy and civic courage. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publ.

Giroux, H. A. (1988). Teachers as intellectuals: Toward a critical pedagogy of learning. Greenwood Publishing Group.

Jessen, J., & Jørgensen, A.H. (2012). Aggregated trustworthiness: Redefining online credibility through social validation. First Monday 17(1-2).

Pettinghill, L. (2006). Trust without knowledge: How young persons carry out research on the internet.

Scollon, R., & Scollon, S.W. (2004). Nexus analysis. Discourse and the emerging internet. London: Routledge.

Suoranta, J. (2005). Radikaali kasvatus: Kohti kasvatuksen poliittista sosiologiaa. Helsinki: Gaudeamus.

The New London Group. (1996). A pedagogy of multiliteracies: Designing social futures. Harvard educational review, 66(1), 60-93.





Last updated: 4.8.2020