Mind the Gap (2013 – 2016)

Mind the Gap Between Digital Natives and Educational Practices -project (2013-2016) is one out of ten projects funded by the Academy of Finland’s Human Mind program (http://www.aka.fi/mind). This program addresses concurrent challenges of the development of human mind by pursuing multidisciplinary basic research into the human mind and its mechanisms of functioning from neural processes to social and cultural contexts.


The purpose of this project is to examine kinds of gaps or discontinuities between the minds of adolescents at the digital age and prevailing educational practices. The project investigates learning and development of 12-, 16-, and 20-year-old adolescents who have socialized and grown up to the worlds of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) from the very beginning of their lives (assumed to be “digital natives”)Further, although Finnish adolescents are doing very well in international school achievement tests, they often do not enjoy their schooling. Many of them have their most engaging experiences of personal and collaborative learning outside, rather than within school. Accordingly, Mind the Gap -project investigates the following issues:

  • What kinds of tensions prevail between the personal and social practices of digital natives and those of their schools and educational institutions?
  • How does intensive use of ICTs and social media affect adolescents intellectually, emotionally and socially?
  • What kinds of pathways and trajectories of engagement and well-being exist in contrast to the vicious circles of exhaustion, anxiety and depression?
  • How could school and teaching better meet the needs of adolescents, many of whom have been socialized to the technology-intensive activity outside of schools?

This project combines various approaches of psychology and education through a collaboration of four professors and their research groups:

  • Research group of educational psychology, Department of Teacher Education, University of Helsinki,
    PI Kirsti Lonka (Professor of Educational Psychology).
  • Research group of brain, attention and memory, Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies & Institute of Behavioural Science,
    Co-PI Kimmo Alho (Professor of Psychology).
  • Research group of technology-mediated collaborative learning, Department of Education, University of Turku,
    Co-PI Kai Hakkarainen (Professor of Education).
  • Research group of development of well-being of adolescents, Department of Psychology, University of Jyväskylä (University of London),
    Co-PI Katariina Salmela-Aro (Professor of Psychology).


By combining longitudinal survey methods, social network analysis, qualitative methods, and brain imagining (fMRI) this project provides insights into the technology-mediated practices of the so-called digital natives and their associations with various dimensions of their life such as academic achievement and subjective well-being.