Adolescent's experiences in studying mathematics and receiving intensified support

Thesis event information

Date and time of the thesis defence

Place of the thesis defence

Linnanmaa, L10

Topic of the dissertation

Adolescent's experiences in studying mathematics and receiving intensified support

Doctoral candidate

Master of Education Marja Kosola

Faculty and unit

University of Oulu Graduate School, Faculty of Education and Psychology, Teachers, Teaching and Educational Communities

Subject of study

Special education


Associate Professor Minna Kyttälä, University of Turku


Professor Marjatta Takala, University of Oulu

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Adolescent's experiences in studying mathematics and receiving intensified support

The core values of the Finnish education system is that every student should experience respect and care, which is achieved through attentive listening and genuine concern for their learning and well-being. However, adolescents are seldom heard in school when discussions revolve around their learning and educational support.

Recent discourse on mathematics learning and education has been colored by various concerns. International studies indicate a decline in mathematical proficiency levels in Finland, with an increasing number of students performing below expectations. Many adolescents also personally perceive difficulties in tackling mathematics tasks.

This qualitative interview-based research focuses on adolescents and their experiences regarding mathematics education in schools and the support they receive. The study also examines the individualized pedagogical documents prepared for these adolescents, which outline their support needs and plan the assistance to be provided.

The findings highlight the key roles played by teachers and adults at home figures in supporting adolescents’ mathematics learning. In the experiences of adolescents, teachers, adults at home and classmates each have distinct roles as learning supporters. Adolescents are motivated to learn mathematics and they believe in their ability to do so. Nonetheless, they identify certain barriers along their path to mathematical proficiency. The interviews with adolescents gave a versatile picture of the support they receive, in contrast to the pedagogical documents designed for them.

This research underscores the significance of listening to adolescents, as they have valuable insights to offer. They possess the capability to analyze their own learning and participate in planning their support. Given the opportunity, adolescents are willing and able to actively contribute to the enhancement of their mathematics learning.
Last updated: 23.1.2024