University of Oulu

Palmgren, M., Pyhältö, K., Pietarinen, J. et al. Emotionally engaged or feeling anxious and cynical? School experiences and links to school achievement among Finland-Swedish general and special education students. Soc Psychol Educ 24, 1487–1509 (2021).

Emotionally engaged or feeling anxious and cynical? : school experiences and links to school achievement among Finland-Swedish general and special education students

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Author: Palmgren, Marina1; Pyhältö, Kirsi2,3,4; Pietarinen, Janne5;
Organizations: 1Doctoral Program of School, Education and Society (SEDUCE), Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Helsinki, Siltavuorenpenger 5A, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
2Centre for University Teaching and Learning, Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
3Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
4University of Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch, South Africa
5School of Applied Educational Science and Teacher Education, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland
6Department of Teacher Education, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.8 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2021
Publish Date: 2022-01-28


The aim of the study was to enhance understanding of how seventh graders vary in emotional engagement and experienced well-being at school in terms of anxiety and cynicism. The two profiles were explored, and comparisons were made between students in general education and those in special education. The study participants comprised 119 Finland–Swedish students from five secondary schools. Four emotional-engagement and well-being profiles were identified based on cluster analysis. The students with the most typical profile were moderately engaged in teacher-student interaction and emotionally highly engaged in peer interaction, combined with a low risk of anxiety and cynicism. The profiles showed no statistically significant differences regarding gender and school achievement. However, there were differences between students in special education and those in general education. In Finland, Swedish -speaking Finns are a language minority group. Swedish has official language status in Finland. Compared to many other language minority groups they can be considered somewhat exceptional, since according to many welfare indicators they tend to do better than the general population. There are a few studies on differences between Swedish and Finnish– speaking students’ school experiences in Finland, however, so far studies exploring Swedish- speaking general and special education students’ emotional engagement and study well-being in terms of anxiety and cynicism have been scarce.

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Series: Social psychology of education
ISSN: 1381-2890
ISSN-E: 1573-1928
ISSN-L: 1381-2890
Volume: 24
Issue: 6
Pages: 1487 - 1509
DOI: 10.1007/s11218-021-09664-5
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 516 Educational sciences
Funding: Open access funding provided by University of Helsinki including Helsinki University Central Hospital. This study was supported by the Otto A. Malm fund and The Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland (Grant No. 8000 euro). The fund was provided by Oskar Öflunds Fund (FI) (Grant No. 3000 euro).
Copyright information: © The Author(s) 2021. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit