Photo:
Andres Tennus

Educational Science

Educational science combines many research fields related to education and upbringing that all have the common goal of learning and teaching smarter as well as managing the educa­tional system and educational institutions more effectively. The Institute of Education at the University of Tartu focuses on research topics that lead to more conscious and smart learning, teaching and educational leadership.

When educating future and current teachers, support specialists and educational leaders, the Institute of Education bases its teaching on contemporary educational science, advanced also by our own researchers. The institute's main research streams are teachers’ professional development, the evaluation of students and the support of their development, educational technology, inclusive education, special education and speech–language pathology.

Research Field Description

The focus of educational science is theories and practices of education and upbringing. When speaking of educational science you may also hear about pedagogy, as the two are closely connected. However, pedagogy is a much narrower field than educational science. Namely, educational science includes pedagogy as well as other educational science fields that are at least as important, such as educational technology, educational leadership or educational sociology.

Educational science is mainly needed for the same reasons as many other fields of research: to explain the key issues that need to be addressed in the field and to find them scientifically justified and optimal solutions. At the same time, the interaction of educational science with other research fields makes the field important since each field of research needs research-based knowledge about learning and teaching to ensure sustainability and development.

Furthermore, educational science impacts the sustainability of all other fields because young people’s futures and opportunities to fully realise their potential are shaped by schools and kindergartens. When learning and teaching is not thought through, this potential can get lost. Striving towards a sustainable and knowledge-based society, educational system, learning and teaching as well as composing study materials and programmes should be based on educational sciences.

Main fields of research

  • professional development of teachers (including shaping the teacher’s professional competences, relations between the teacher’s professional development and the academic knowledge and main skills of students of various ages, the teaching practices and beliefs of teachers and lecturers, a teacher’s agency or their capacity to act)
  • evaluating students and supporting their development (including motivation, emotions, self-regulatory skills, learning competences, communication competences, social-emotional skills, mathematical competence, scientific competence and entrepreneurial competence);
  • educational technology (including learning through research online, digital competence, responsible science and innovation, algorithmic thinking, virtual and augmented reality);
  • inclusive education (definition and dimensions, attitudes of teachers and school leaders towards inclusive education, supporting teachers’ professional development in applying inclusive education, inclusive school culture and leadership, multilingual and multicultural study environments) and
  • special education and speech–language pathology (the development of tools to assess progress of students with special needs, the development of research-based learning materials and instructional materials for teachers, manifestations of speech and language disorders, diagnostics and development of therapy methods).
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