Honors Program


Document Type


Date of this Version

Summer 2019


Tyler, E. (2019). Comparing Nebraskan and Finnish education policy and its impacts on mathematics teaching. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska - Lincoln.


Copyright Elizabeth Tyler, 2019.


For two decades, Finland has been in the education spotlight as they consistently receive high international exam scores while spending less money, less time teaching, and putting students through fewer hours of school. This study aims to investigate the related policy that may help explain these seemingly paradoxical findings in the education sector. More specifically, this study examines how related policy impacts math teachers in their day to day work. This research includes an extensive literature review that explores several facets of the education system in both Nebraska and Finland in order to better understand existing policies. This background is necessary prior to understanding the impact these policies might have. The study also includes feedback from two math teachers in Nebraska and two math teachers in Finland regarding policy and the responsibilities expected of them, often as a result of these policies. The data for this project was collected through semi-structured interviews and was evaluated by identifying key themes and contrasting feedback leading to better understanding about how policy in Finland may be enabling teachers to better help their students.

A key finding in this study is that Finnish teachers experience more teacher autonomy than Nebraska teachers. This autonomy appears to have a significant impact on the implementation of curriculum, assessment, and other aspects of education. In addition, interviews led the study to look into how the culture of Finland may be playing a very large role in their ability to maintain an educational system that is simultaneously autonomous and interdependent on other sectors of the government.