Welcome to the FINSCI project - Fostering Finnish Science Capital!

FINSCI is a research project focusing on investigating and fostering Finnish science capital.

FINSCI combines research from several different fields and creates new knowledge on the psychological, social, and cultural factors behind science learning and knowledge-based decision making, and how they could be cultivated.

Why does FINSCI exist?

The amount of knowledge is constantly increasing, but at the same time it is becoming more and more difficult to recognize what information is reliable and what isn’t. In order to cope with the problems and phenomena that affect our daily lives, we need to develop our abilities to understand and evaluate scientific knowledge. FINSCI aims to address this need.

Besides creating new knowledge, FINSCI focuses on developing community science practices and public science interaction in order to increase the accessibility of science. Collaboration between the consortium partners and Finnish residents aims to include especially those individuals who are currently not reached by traditional science communication.

The FINSCI consortium includes the University of Turku, the University of Eastern Finland, and the University of Helsinki, as well as the Finnish Science Center Heureka, and science association Skope ry. The project is funded by the Strategic Research Council (SRC) established within the Academy of Finland. FINSCI is part of the council’s LITERACY program, which seeks solutions to how information can be used critically and constructively to support individual and societal decision-making and activities.

Science capital?

Science capital consists of four different dimensions: what a person knows, how they think, what they do, and who they know. It describes the different ways in which science can touch people’s lives. Research on science capital was developed in the United Kingdom, and it shows that the more science capital a person has, the more likely they are to follow STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) subjects. 

Within the FINSCI-project we share a belief that science belongs to everyone. We investigate and develop ways to cultivate Finnish science capital, i.e. the possibilities for individuals to interact with science and get to know people in science. as well as their scientific literacy, critical thinking and science communication skills.

FINSCI is collaborative and participatory

In order to study and foster Finnish science capital, we are looking for all kinds of people to participate in the research and activities of the project. We want to reach especially Finnish residents who have fewer possibilities to participate in science or who do not regard science as inclusive. The “Join us?” -page includes information on current participant recruitments, questionnaires, events, and campaigns, in which you can take part.

Join us?

Welcome aboard! We collect the information on our events and research activities on one page. The research is translated into different languages when possible. The main language at our events is typically Finnish. The research and events page also includes information on other Finnish research-projects that are looking for participants.

FINSCI’s research and events (in Finnish)

FINSCI research

FINSCI aims at understanding how an individual's science capital reflects their abilities to understand and learn scientific knowledge and make decisions based on scientific knowledge in their daily life. The scientific frameworks of psychology, cognitive neuroscience, education and social sciences are combined to reach this aim.

Our project begins with a nation-wide survey on the Finnish science capital. The survey is created together with the consortium partners, and respondents will later be invited to participate in individual research projects of the different work packages within the project. The work packages are introduced below.

Based on the survey data, new ways of engagement will be developed, including community science activities and interaction activities to cultivate science capital and the accessibility of science, aiming to include especially those individuals who are currently not reached by traditional science communication.

The projects funded by the SRC aim to find solutions to societal challenges and their main focus is on the applicability of their findings. FINSCI also aims to create new, functional and scalable solutions to support accessibility, inclusiveness, and equality in science.

FINSCI is divided into six work packages

  1. Emotions in knowledge acquisition
  2. Neurocognitive processes in decision-making
  3. Future citizens’ science literacy and everyday decision-making
  4. Parents’ science capital and children’s science literacy and learning
  5. Democratizing science by novel means of engagement
  6. Interaction and supporting Finnish science capital

FINSCI’s work packages

Emotions in knowledge acquisition

University of Turku, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology and Speech-Language Pathology

This work package focuses on the effects of emotions, such as curiosity and awe, on human information processing. Psychophysiological methods will be used to study the effects of different emotional reactions on learning and understanding contradicting information. The focus is on situations where information from different sources is contradictory or where the information is conflicting with the person’s former beliefs. The participants are children, youth, and adults, who will also participate in the studies conducted by the other work packages.

Johanna Kaakinen

Consortium director, work package leader
University of Turku

I study the psychological processes related to learning and understanding new concepts. I am especially interested in how emotions affect reading, reading comprehension and mind wandering during reading. My area of expertise is applying eye tracking methods in research.

Neurocognitive processes in decision-making

University of Helsinki, Collegium of Advanced Studies, and Faculty of Educational Sciences

This work package investigates how scientific knowledge affects everyday life decisions and how emotions, science curiosity, and conceptual change affect decision-making. Some of the respondents of the science capital survey will be invited to laboratory studies measuring electrical brain activity (EEG) and eye movements during decision-making. Additionally, experiments will be held during scientific events, for example at the Heureka science center. 

Jaana Simola

Work package leader
Adjunct professor in cognitive neuroscience
University of Helsinki

I investigate the fluctuations of attention and performance in different attention demanding tasks. I am interested in situations where focus is detached from external stimuli and internally directed mind-wandering begins. I am also interested in factors that affect individual and spontaneous brain activity during resting state.

Future citizens’ science literacy and everyday decision-making

University of Turku, Faculty of Education, Department of Teacher Education and Centre for Research on Learning and Instruction (CERLI)

This work package focuses on the learning of complicated phenomena in natural sciences and how to support science-based decision-making in daily life. Instructional interventions are used to support science literacy among different age groups of learners from primary education to high school. University students will be invited to participate in a follow-up study of the changes in science capital, science literacy, and agency during their university studies. The interconnections of science capital, science literacy, and decision-making are investigated in all age-groups. The work package uses a multi-method approach.

Mirjamaija Mikkilä-Erdmann

Deputy leader of the FINSCI-project, Work package leader
University of Turku

I study the learning of complicated phenomena and teaching from the perspective of conceptual change. Conceptual change refers to how a person radically modifies their thinking towards a scientific world view and begins to perceive the world in a new way. I am interested in the processes of understanding, and how instructional interventions and written content support individuals from different age-groups and different backgrounds to develop their science literacy.

Parents’ science capital and children’s science literacy and learning

University of Eastern Finland, Philosophical Faculty, School of Applied Educational Science and Teacher Education

The work package investigates the understanding of science and its importance among the parents of primary school students and how parents support their children’s science education. In the work package, we will develop and carry out interventions at schools among second to third grade students to support science capital. Additionally, we will study the physiological and cognitive factors affecting problem-solving in daily life regarding e.g., water, energy, and food.

Sari Havu-Nuutinen

Work package leader
Professor on education
University of Eastern Finland

I investigate the learning and teaching processes of natural sciences among children in preschool and early education. In my research I focus especially on the areas of investigative practices in learning and teaching as well as conceptual change.

Democratizing science by novel means of engagement

The Finnish Science Centre Heureka and the association of Finnish science centers (Suomen tiedekeskukset ry)

The work package focuses on the science capital and learning motives of the visitors of Heureka and other Finnish science centers. Special interest is focused on groups that are not currently reached by science centers as well as the barriers of participation among these groups. Participatory design methods will be used to develop and pilot new engagement practices among local communities utilizing the knowledge created in the other work packages.

Tapio Koivu

Work package leader
Science Center Heureka; University of Oulu

My main job is at the University of Oulu, but in this project I work for the Finnish science center Heureka. My role is to investigate new models of operation for science centers, which can benefit the FINSCI research findings. Experimenting is important in reforming operating models based on the findings of the study. The findings generated in the experiments, on the other hand, produce new information for analysis. The role of science centers is to enable experiments to be carried out.

Interaction and supporting Finnish science capital

The Skope ry.

The work package is responsible for the external communication of the project. Different events, campaigns, and activities are organized for example to increase the visibility of Finnish researchers. The work package aims at reaching focus groups currently unattained by traditional science communication, understanding the barriers to participation, and developing accessible and engaging science communication based on the feedback from these focus groups.

Katri Saarikivi

Leader for FINSCI interaction activities
Skope ry; University of Helsinki

I have investigated the neural basis of executive functions, development of attention skills, empathy, collaboration, and shared problem-solving. In the FINSCI-project I will study the impact of awe, curiosity and science curiosity on learning and decision making.