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Professor at the Department of Science Education at University of Copenhagen

Balancing and becoming – the encounter between students, teachers and institutions.

Lars Ulriksen's keynote at EFYE2021 will relate to the theme of being and becoming a first year student. Students enter higher education with expectations and experiences, and they meet study programmes’ expectations about who and what the students should be – the implied student of the programme. The keynote will focus on how first-year students try to balance what they meet with what they bring with them in order to develop a study practice that will allow them to become students of higher education and succeed in staying at the program.


Lars Ulriksen is a professor at the Department of Science Education at the University of Copenhagen. His research concerns the encounter between on the one hand the students with their prior knowledge and experiences, their interests, expectations and perspectives, and, on the other, the educational context with its curriculum, and modes of teaching, conditions, cultures, traditions, teachers and other students. What happens in this encounter? What affects what happens, and how does it influence the students’ development of an identity and sense of belonging at the education, as well as their interests, motivation and learning outcomes?
Lars Ulriksen introduced the term of the Implied Student in his article of the same name in 2009. Furthermore, he has published research on explanations for drop out/opt out among young people from STEM higher education programs as well as the transition into science and engineering university programmes.
Among his research activities, Lars Ulriksen has studied university students, particularly within science and engineering, their choice of study, their transition into first year at university and what they find challenging in this transition. He has studied how the students manage this transition, the teaching and the content they meet, and how it affects the completion and non-completion during first year. Additionally, he has worked with professional development of university teachers over the last 20 years and is chair of DUN (Danish Network for Educational Development in Higher Education)


Professor of Higher Education at Lancaster University

The role of curriculum in becoming a first year university student

Paul Ashwin’s keynote at EFYE2021 will relate to the theme of teaching first year students. The keynote will focus more specifically on the role of curriculum in the process of becoming and being a first year student. The keynote will provide perspectives on student’s experiences in higher education including how different curricula shape different understandings of and conditions for student agency.


Paul Ashwin is Professor of Higher Education at Lancaster University, where he is also Head of the Department of Educational Research. Paul’s research is focused on the educational role of higher education. He is interested in how curricula in higher education can be designed in ways that help to transform students' understanding of themselves and the world. He also examines the role of policies in shaping the education offered by higher education institutions. In his research, Paul asks how do we enhance the quality of education in ways that support greater societal equality?

Paul Ashwin’s most recent book, ‘Transforming University Education: A Manifesto’, is an impassioned argument that we need to focus on the educational, rather than economic, purposes of university degrees if they are to have a transformational impact on students and societies. He is also the lead author on Reflective Teaching in Higher Education (2015, 2020) which is written by an international team to support the development of research-informed university teaching.

Among many other research activities Paul Ashwin is Deputy Director of the Centre for Global Higher Education (CGHE), which is a partnership between seven UK and nine international universities with its headquarters at the University of Oxford. He has a background researching students' experiences of learning at the Institute for the Advancement of University Learning, University of Oxford and, before that, seven years implementing and researching peer learning at Newham College of Further Education.


Professor of Educational Psychology at University of Helsinki

Kirsti Lonka’s keynote at EFYE2021 will relate to the theme of supporting the transition. A recent study found three engagement profiles among freshmen: engaged, disengaged and undecided. Epistemic profiles of students were discovered as well and were related to academic achievement (Lonka, Ketonen & Vermunt, 2020). Another study in progress could confirm the three typical factors of problems in studying: lack of relevance, exhaustion and lack of regulation. The keynote will reflect on the meaning of these results and show preliminary results on how epistemic profiles are related to study engagement and problems in studying.


Kirsti Lonka is Professor of Educational Psychology at University of Helsinki, Finland, since 2005. She is Director of Research Group of Educational Psychology with focus on research areas such as: understanding and conceptualizing psychological and socio-cultural factors related to learning and educational change; identifying and describing features of various learning environments that may promote or prevent students’ meaningful learning, well-being and agency and investigating how learning is technologically mediated. Kirsti is also Extraordinary Professor, Optentia Research Focus Area, North-West University, Vanderbiljpark, South Africa (2016-2022)

Recently, Kirsti Lonka was a PI of the projects “Phenomenal Teacher Education – Engaging learning environments” (2017-2019) and Learning2Be (on social and emotional learning) (2017-2019), the latter an EU Erasmus+ project.  Her latest projects are Bridging the Gaps – Affective, cognitive, and social consequences of digital revolution for youth development and education (2018 – 2020) by Academy of Finland (PIs  Professor Katariina Salmela-Aro and Kirsti Lonka) and leading WP2 in a larger project “DigiConsumers: Learning to be digital consumers. How to improve young people’s financial skills in a technologically driven consumer society?”, funded by Finnish Strategic Research Council CULT Program (2019-2022).  

Kirsti Lonka has published more than 140 refereed journal articles, conference papers and book chapters. She has also published plenty of text books and popular writings. Her specialties are psychology of learning, higher education, teacher education, and postgraduate education (i.e., academic writing). At the moment, she is working on innovations in higher education and engaging learning environments (ELE).

Full Abstract

Our research data included about 1500 undergraduate students. We found three engagement profiles among freshmen: engaged, disengaged, undecided, alienated with considerable differences in contextual experiences and short- and long-term achievement. Engaged students had the most favourable outcomes. They were the only group that met the criteria set by the Finnish government. The dysfunctional students expressed the most negative experiences and performed poorly. Undecided students had no serious problems in studying and they improved their performance after the first year. When it comes to epistemic theories, we managed to distinguish three epistemic different profiles by using latent profile analysis (LPA): Pragmatic (49%), collaborative-reflective (26%) and fact-oriented (25%) groups. The members of collaborative-reflective group had the highest academic achievement. The fact-oriented group were mostly engineering/science students. The academic achievement of the pragmatic group improve during the second year. We could confirm the three typical factors of problems in studying: lack of relevance, exhaustion and lack of regulation. In this keynote, I shall reflect on the meaning of these results and show some preliminary results on how epistemic profiles are related to study engagement and problems in studying. 


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