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Press release

Press release

Doctoral Thesis on the importance of relationships in practicum within early childhood education

Anna Buss.
Anna Buss

M.A. (Ed.) Anna Buss’ doctoral thesis in Education, Preschool Teacher will be put forth for public defence at the Faculty of Education and Welfare Studies at Åbo Akademi University.

The thesis is titled Relationers betydelse i lärarpraktik inom småbarnspedagogik: En kvalitativ studie ur tre perspektiv: lärarstuderandes, blivande fälthandledares och ledares.

A public defence of the doctoral thesis takes place on 7 June 2024 at 1.15 PM at auditorium Bruhn, Academill, Rantakatu 2, Vaasa. Docent Kirsi Alila, Ministry of Education and Culture, will serve as opponent and Professor Mia Heikkilä, Åbo Akademi University, as custos. You can also follow the defence online.


The results demonstrate that both teacher students and mentors should actively work to create a functional relationship where equality and communication are central components. This should occur at the beginning of the practicum period to establish relationships and facilitate the learning process of teacher students. The ECEC centres that offer practicum to teacher students in early childhood education constitute the context of this thesis, which highlights relationships in teacher practicum from three perspectives: teacher students in early childhood education, prospective mentors, and leaders in early childhood education.

Prospective mentors need opportunities for self-reflection to increase awareness of their role as mentors and to feel confident in it. The study’s results show that mentor training contributes to the development of relational professionalism among prospective mentors.

Meaningful relationships between teacher students and mentors develop as teacher students participate in the activities of the ECEC centre. At the same time, the results show that support from the entire work community is crucial for teacher students’ learning during the practicum. Welcoming teacher students by all members of the staff contributes to the feeling among teacher students that they have been given the opportunity to learn and develop during the practicum period.

Collaboration between universities and ECEC centres shows that leaders welcome teacher students’ presence at ECEC centres, as this enables staff to access the latest knowledge and research. Being part of an academically anchored activity is considered beneficial for ECEC centres as it promotes the development of early childhood education and increases staff competence. By inviting teacher students to the ECEC centres and encouraging relationships, opportunities for everyone to grow and develop are provided, thus contributing to the education of professionals in early childhood education.


Anna Maria Buss was born in 1982. She can be reached by phone 050 349 2996 or email anna.buss@abo.fi.

The doctoral thesis can be read online through the Doria publication archive.

Click here for a press photo of the doctoral student.


Instructions for following the doctoral defence remotely:

To follow the defence, you need the Zoom software or the Google Chrome browser. You do not need to create a Zoom account to follow the defence. If you install the application, you participate by clicking on the meeting link, after which you should allow the link to open in the Zoom app.