Learning Research Innovation Center

Center heads name, title and contact information:

Heads/ Co-heads from China:Yun WANG, Professor of National Key Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience, Beijing Normal University(BNU)

Heads/Co-heads from Finland:Mari Tervaniemi, Research Director, CICERO Learning Network, University of Helsinki
Pirjo Aunio, Professor, University of Helsinki

Aims and objectives of the center:

Research collaboration, training activities to the students and researchers, as well as training activities to educators and parents in the field of learning innovations.


1) Music enhancing academic learning in School-aged Children: Longitudinal intervention study by Mari Tervaniemi, Vesa Putkinen, Minna Huotilainen, Pirjo Aunio, Markku Niemivirta, Sha Tao, Qinfang Xu, and Cuicui Wang.

2) Cross-cultural Study of Cognitive and Non-cognitive Development Underlying Academic Achievement by Sha Tao, Daoyang Wang, Pirjo Aunio, Markku Niemivirta, and Mari Tervaniemi.

3) The developmental dynamics in mathematics, cognition, motivation and well-being in China and Finland by Sha Tao, Pirjo Aunio, Markku Niemivirta, and Mari Tervaniemi.

4) Digital storytelling and digital pen by Hannele Niemi, Jenny Niu, Marianna Vivitsou, and Baoping Li.

5) Progressive Development in Early Education by Jyrki Reunamo and Kati Rintakorpi.

6) 21st century skills’ development for pre-service teachers in Finland and in China by Hannele Niemi, Jenny Niu and Jun Teng.

7) Skillful Class research project by Hannele Niemi, Jenny Niu and Yun Wang.

Project descriptions:

1) Music enhancing academic learning -project investigates effects of musical vs. foreign language learning on brain plasticity and academic learning. The project is a collaboration between University of Helsinki (Research Director Mari Tervaniemi) and Beijing Normal University (Professor Tao Sha). It is being conducted in Beijing by the National Key Laboratory for Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning in local elementary school. It is using auditory event-related potentials as well as various behavioral measures to determine, in a longitudinal intervention paradigm, the effects of music vs. language training in school-aged children. The project is financially supported by Beijing Normal University (Key Project of the Open Fund of National Key Laboratory; Innoative Research Team Project of NSFC; Future School 2030 by Beijing Advance Innovation Center for Future Education) and by University of Helsinki.

2) The aim of this study is to investigate the cross-cultural developmental dynamics in mathematical skills, motivational tendencies and cognitive components. We are interested how the development advances in children aged nine up to 12 years old. The data will include measurements with third, fourth, fifth and sixth graders in both countries. There will be 150 Chinese and 150 Finnish students participating this study. The first phase of the study is done in 2016-2019. This study will contribute the scientific field by providing new information from children’s mathematical skills, cognition, motivation and well-being development in two different learning contexts. The project is financially supported by Beijing Normal University (Future School 2030 by Beijing Advance Innovation Center for Future Education) and by University of Helsinki.

3) Digital Storytelling
Digital stories are student-generated videos that can consist of single or multiple events in curriculum-related topics or other themes for students’ learning. This method was implemented in Math learning in four Chinese classes with 10-11 years old students in 5th grade. Students worked in groups when designing videos, inquire knowledge for their topics, film, edit and shared their videos with other peer groups. Students evaluated their learning and working processes in pre- and post-questionnaires. They also reported their daily-based learning experiences. Researchers observed and interviewed teachers and students. Based on this study, learning with the DST method guided students towards deep learning. They learned new knowledge about math but also how math relates to everyday life. They acquired new ICT skills such as recording and editing videos and, in addition, how to find new information from books or the Internet. Students also learned how to work in groups with their classmates and how to work together to produce new ideas. Students’ assessments in their reports and interviews show that it was fun to do tasks that relate to DST and that they worked very hard during the lessons in different phases of the DST processes. Teachers highly agreed with students’ experiences and praised students’ increased motivation and engagement in their learning. The findings of the study are very encouraging that DST can provide students with 21st century skills.

4) Progressive Development in Early Education -project concentrates on a four-principle feedback loop that is scalable to countries, cities, schools, groups, parents and individuals. First, we collect observation data, based on random sampling, about children’s everyday contexts, physical activity, learning, emotions and social orientation. We merge the observation with other measures of children and learning environment quality. Secondly, we have built a cloud service, where the educators/participants can easily analyze the results and get directions for enhancements. Thirdly, the participants get help in developing their educational practices with development models. Fourthly, the participants make the necessary changes and they can monitor the development further in the cloud service. This model of progressive feedback results in data driven development. We aim to use Progressive feedback both in the National and school levels in China. In Finland the partner is University of Helsinki and in China the partner is CEAIE Educational Equipment Committee.

5) 21st century skills’ development for pre-service teachers in Finland and in China – this project is joint research between Institute of International and Comparative Education, Beijing Normal University, and Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Helsinki. The aim of the survey is to study and compare the current situation of 21st century skills among student teachers in Finland and in China, as well as to identify what are the good practices have been done for developing student teachers 21st century skills and what more can be done in this area. As a result, a scientific journal article will be published and overall the results can be used in strengthening the synergies between education, research and innovation activities that can eventually result in updating the curricula in developing 21st century skills for student teachers in both countries. The main objectives of this study are the following: (1) how 21st century skills have been included and integrated in pre-service teacher education in Finland and China. (2) to make empirical study of how 21st century skills are implemented in student teachers’ learning processes; (3) to provide suggestions and recommendations for the learning and teaching with 21st century skills in pre-service teacher education in Finland and in China; (4) To publish peer-reviewed articles in the international journals with the focus of 21st century skills in pre-service education

6) Skilful Class research project – this project is a joint project between University of Helsinki and Beijing Normal University. The Skilful Class Project is an educational approach designed for elementary school classes. The objective of the project is to improve classroom atmosphere, teach children social skills, improve school performance, and enhance the positive mental health of the children. Skilful Class is based on Kids’Skills, an internationally recognized solution-focused method for helping children overcome difficulties and problems by learning skills with the support of their family and friends. Kids Skill method is a Skills Thinking and Skills Learning value creation process. It helps children to learn skills to overcome the problems to obtain desired changes in a joyful and meaningful way. Eventually it helps to build a friendly and supportive learning environment which leads to children’s wellbeing.

... Address: Sino Finnish Joint Learning Innovation Institute Beijing Normal University New Main Building 1424B, 19 Xin Jie Kou Wai Street
Tel:010-58807038/58807032 Email:jolii@bnu.edu.cn