Markus Talvio (M.Ed), will defend the doctoral dissertation entitled “How do teachers benefit from training on social interaction skills? – Developing and utilising an instrument for the evaluation of teachers’ social and emotional learning” in the Faculty of Behavioural Sciences, University of Helsinki, on 29 November 2014 at 12:00. The public examination will take place at the following address: Yliopiston päärakennus, Pieni juhlasali, Fabianinkatu 33, 4th floor.

Professor Neil Humphrey, University of Manchester, will serve as the opponent, and Professor Kirsti Lonka as the custos.

By using their social interaction skills, teachers create an autonomous and supportive climate in the classroom. Research, however, is scarce on how teachers can develop these skills despite being emphasised as key tools in modern learning psychology. This intervention study (including four substudies) explored the development of teachers’ social and emotional learning (SEL) skills during Gordon’s Teacher Effectiveness Training (TET) (2003).

In Study I, the DCI method was developed to measure the social interaction skills of teachers. The participants are presented with seven scenarios, after which they are asked what they would say or do in that situation. DCI appeared to be a reliable and valid tool. The multi-phase quantitative analyses in Study II showed that teachers benefitted from TET. Among those who participated in TET, both knowledge and the application of knowledge improved significantly. In the comparison group, no differences between the pre- and post-test measurements were found. Study III showed that a qualitative change took place among those teachers participating in TET. Teachers learned to apply the TET skills in their responses to situations. By giving room to pupils, teachers were also more likely to support pupils autonomy and agency. In Study IV, it was found that the participants still remembered the central skills studied during TET and were able to reflect that knowledge in their own behaviour from the perspective of the TET skills. Almost all of the participants said that they would recommend TET to their colleagues. TET intervention appeared to achieve its goals since both classroom and subject-matter teachers seemed to benefit from the training on social interaction skills. While training on teachers social interaction skills is often recommended, little evidence regarding its effectiveness exists. This study adds to both the theoretical and practical development of continuing teacher education.

The dissertation is also available in electronic form through the E-thesis service.

Markus Talvio