Photo of Kristiina Kumpulainen
  • PL 9 (Siltavuorenpenger 5A)



1992 …2023
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Personal profile

Description of research and teaching

I am working as Professor of Education at the Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Helsinki. I am the founding member and research director of the Playful Learning Center ( I also co-lead the Learning, Culture and Interventions (LECI) Expert Group. I also hold an adjunct professorship at the University of Turku and Helsinki. 

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

External positions

Visiting Professor, University of British Columbia

1 Aug 201931 Jul 2020

Fields of Science

  • 516 Educational sciences

International and National Collaboration Publications and projects within past five years.

Publications 1992 2019

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

Open Access

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


(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

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

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

Open Access

Projects 2008 2023

Activities 1990 2019

Early years : an international journal of research and development (Journal)

Kristiina Kumpulainen (Reviewer)
8 Mar 2019

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

Invited keynote: Fostering Young Children’s Cultural Literacy via Playful Pedagogies

Kristiina Kumpulainen (Speaker)
18 Jul 201919 Jul 2019

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk

Keynote: Monilukutaidon pedagogiikan kurittomat palaset

Kristiina Kumpulainen (Speaker)
13 Feb 2019

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation

Vastaväittäjänä toimiminen, University of Neuchatél, Institute of Psychology and Education, Switzerland

Kristiina Kumpulainen (Supervisor)
18 Jan 2019

Activity: Examination typesOpponent of doctoral dissertation