Kristiina Kumpulainen


Description of research and teaching

I am working as Professor of Education and Vice Dean for research at the Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Helsinki. I am the founding member and research director of the Playful Learning Center ( I also hold an adjunct professorship at the University of Turku. 

I received my PhD in Education from the University of Exeter in the year 1994 after which I have held two distinguished scholarly positions awarded by the Academy of Finland (1997-2005). In the years 2006-9 I directed the national interdisciplinary research network on learning, CICERO Learning at the University of Helsinki. I moved from this position to serve as the Director of the Information and Evaluation Services Unit at the Finnish National Board of Education (2009-11). In the past, I have been a visiting professor at the University of Warwick, Institute of Education, UK (2007-9) and at the University of California, Santa Barbara, UCSB, Gevirtz Graduate School of Education (2004-6).

I have spearheaded several externally funded research projects examining learning and education from the sociocultural perspective. My research focuses on understanding social, emotional and cultural dimensions of learning and development. In my publications, I have been interested to develop new knowledge about social interaction in learning, illuminating the ways in which participation, agency and knowledge are situationally negotiated across space and time. I have also addressed methodological questions in the analysis of social interaction in formal and informal settings. Lately, I have begun to be interested in visual, participatory research, children’s and young people’s creativity and resilience as well as formation of learner identities in the digital age.

In sum, my core research themes are:

  • Social interaction and learning
  • Sociocultural theories
  • Social ecologies of learning and development
  • Cognitive, social and emotional processes
  • Play and creativity across the lifecourse
  • Agency and resilience
  • Children, media and digital literacies
  • Children’s engagement and voice
  • Transitions
  • Participatory research methods
  • Visual research

Highlighted publications

  1. Global perspectives on children’s digital opportunities: an emerging research and policy agenda

    Livingstone, S., Lemish, D., Lim, S. S., Bulger, M., Cabello, P., Claro, M., Cabello-Hutt, T., Khalil, J., Kumpulainen, K., Nayar, U. S., Nayar, P., Park, J., Tan, M. M., Prinsloo, J. & Wei, B., 1 Nov 2017, In : Pediatrics (English Edition). 140, Supplement 2, p. s137-s141 5 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

  2. A principled, personalised, trusting and child-centric ECEC system in Finland

    Kumpulainen, K., Aug 2018, The Early Advantage 1: Early Childhood Systems That Lead by Example - A Comparative Focus on International Early Childhood Education. Kagan, S. L. (ed.). New York: Teachers college press, p. 72-98 27 p.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review

  3. (Re)Searching learning across contexts: Conceptual, methodological and empirical explorations: [Editorial]

    Kumpulainen, K. & Erstad, O., 2017, In : International Journal of Educational Research. 84, p. 55-57 3 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

  4. Researching Teachers’ Agentic Orientations to Educational Change in Finnish Schools

    Rajala, A. & Kumpulainen, K., 7 Sep 2017, Agency at Work: An Agentic Perspective on Professional Learning and Development. Goller, M. & Paloniemi, S. (eds.). Cham: Springer, p. 311-329 19 p. (Professional and Practice-based Learning; vol. Volume 20).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review

  5. Understanding educational change: Agency-structure dynamics in a novel design and making environment

    Kumpulainen, K., Kajamaa, A. & Rajala, A., 29 Jun 2018, In : Digital education review. 2018, 33, p. 26-38 13 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

View all (196) »

Latest activities

  1. Africa Education Review (Journal)

    Kristiina Kumpulainen (Reviewer)
    9 May 2019

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPeer review of manuscripts

  2. Springer (Publisher)

    Kristiina Kumpulainen (Reviewer)
    7 May 2019

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of series

View all (232) »

Highlighted projects

  1. DigiChild: Nordic Research Network on Digitalising Childhoods funded by NOS HS/Academy of Finland

    Kumpulainen, K., Kajamaa, A., Erstad, O., Mäkitalo, Å., Drotner, K. & Jakobsdottir, S.


    Project: Research project

View all (23) »

ID: 119503