Comparing antecedents for Norwegian, Swedish, and Finnish youths’ agentic beliefs in informal online learning


  • Eyvind Elstad University of Oslo
  • Thomas Arnesen Western Norway University of Applied Sciences
  • Knut Andreas Christophersen Associate professor emeritus



agentic beliefs, informal online learning, Finland, Sweden, Norway


Technology has become an ever-present factor in virtually every contemporary situation, and digital media has gained a significant role in the lives of young people. This article explores and compares the antecedents for agentic beliefs in informal online learning amongst young people in Norway, Sweden and Finland. The promotion of such agentic beliefs in informal online learning is an important task for school systems that seek to prepare young people for responsible citizenship, capable of directing their own lives and supporting others. A sample of 3045 urban Finnish, Swedish and Norwegian students in general study programs (15–17-year-olds) participated in a cross-sectional questionnaire. Structural equation modelling was used for analysis. We discovered that the patterns in some of these relations were astonishingly similar in Sweden, Norway, and Finland. In each of these countries, online culture, defined in terms of free choice and self-actualisation by using internet, is positively associated with agentic beliefs and with time online. A duality in school and internet orientation demonstrates that the educational systems in these three countries face challenges to build bridges between the attitudes of youth and the emphasis on knowledge found in traditional educational subjects. Furthermore, the agentic beliefs of youngsters in these three countries differ depending on the degree to which youths value education.


Download data is not yet available.


Metrics Loading ...

Author Biographies

Eyvind Elstad, University of Oslo

Professor, Department of teacher education and school research, University of Oslo

Thomas Arnesen, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences

Department of Teacher Education, Assistant professor.

Knut Andreas Christophersen, Associate professor emeritus

Department of Political Science, University of Oslo.


Anderson, A., Hattakka, M., Grönlund, Å. & Wiklund, M. (2013). Reclaiming the pupils—coping with social media in 1:1 schools. Learning, Media and Technology, 39(1), 37–52.

Appadurai, A. (1996). Modernity at large: Cultural dimensions of globalization. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Arnesen, T., Elstad, E. & Christophersen, K.A. (2017). Comparing Instructional Factors Related to Students’ Academic Self-Discipline in Norway and Finland. Nordic Journal of Comparative and International Education, 1(1), 18–35.

Baumert, J., Kunter, M., Blum, W., Brunner, M., Voss, T., Jordan, A., ... Tsai, Y. M. (2010). Teachers’ mathematical knowledge, cognitive activation in the classroom, and student progress. American Educational Research Journal, 47(1), 133–180.

Benedicto, J. & Luz Morán, M. (2007). Becoming a citizen: Analysing the social representations of citizenship in youth. European Societies, 9(4), 601–622.

Bernstein, B. B. (2000). Pedagogy, symbolic control, and identity: Theory, research, critique. London: Rowman & Littlefield.

Blossing, U., Imsen, G. & Moos, L. (2014). Progressive education and new governance in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. In U. Blossing, G. Imsen & L. Moos (Eds.), The Nordic education model: “A school for all” encounters neo-liberal policy (pp. 133–154). Dordrecht: Springer.

Boyd, D. (2010). Social network sites as networked publics: Affordances, dynamics, and implications. In A. Papacharissi (Ed.), A networked self: Identity, community, and culture on social network sites (pp. 39–58). New York, NY: Routledge.

Brake, M. (2013). The sociology of youth culture and youth subcultures: Sex and drugs and rock'n'roll? London: Routledge.

Buckingham, D. & Willett, R. (2013). Digital generations: Children, young people, and the new media. London: Routledge.

Capuzzi, D. & Gross, D. R. (2014). Youth at risk: A prevention resource for counselors, teachers, and parents. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.

Cemalcilar, Z. (2010). Schools as socialisation contexts: Understanding the impact of school climate factors on students’ sense of school belonging. Applied Psychology, 59(2), 243–272.

Deming, D. J. (2017). The growing importance of social skills in the labor market. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 132(4), 1593–1640.

Eccles, J. S. (2014). Families, schools, and developing achievement-related motivations and engagement. In J. E. Grusec & P. D. Hastings (Eds.), Handbook of socialization: Theory and research (pp. 665–691). New York: Guilford Publications.

Elstad, E. (2008). Building self-discipline to promote learning: students’ volitional strategies to navigate the demands of schooling. Learning Inquiry, 2(1), 53–71.

Elstad, E. (2016). Chapter 1 Educational technology: expectations and experiences. An introductory overview. In Elstad, E. (Ed.). Digital expectations and experiences in education (pp. 3–28). Rotterdam/ Boston /Taipei: Sense Publishers.

Erstad, O. & Sefton-Green, J. (2013). Digital disconnect? The ‘digital learner’ and the school. In O. Erstad & J. Sefton-Green (Eds.), Identity, community, and learning lives in the digital age (pp. 87–106). Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.

European Commission. (2013). Survey of schools: ICT in education. Brussels: European Commission. Retrieved May 17th, 2017 from

Frånberg, G. M., Dunkels, E. & Hällgren, C. (2011). Youth and contemporary learning: Interactive media use and youth. Learning, Knowledge Exchange and Behavior, 1(1), 1–11.

Gangadharbatla, H. (2008). Facebook me: Collective self-esteem, need to belong, and internet self-efficacy as predictors of the e-generation's attitudes toward social networking sites. Journal of Interactive Advertising, 8(2), 5–15.

Gardner, H. & Davis, K. (2013). The app generation: How today’s youth navigate identity, intimacy, and imagination in a digital world. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Gillis, J. R. (2013). Youth and history: Tradition and change in European age relations, 1770–present. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

Greenhow, C. & Lewin, C. (2016). Social media and education: reconceptualizing the boundaries of formal and informal learning. Learning, media and technology, 41(1), 6–30.

Haladyna, T. M. & Rodriguez, M. C. (2013). Developing and validating test items. London: Routledge.

Hanushek, E. A., Schwerdt, G., Wößmann, L. & Zhang, L. (2017). General education, vocational education, and labor-market outcomes over the lifecycle. Journal of Human Resources, 52(1), 48–87.

Hopmann, S. (2007). Restrained teaching: The common core of Didaktik. European Educational Research Journal, 6(2), 109–124.

Hopmann, S. T. (2013). The end of schooling as we know it?. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 45(1), 1-3.

Inglehart, R. & Oyserman, D. (2004). Individualism, autonomy, self-expression. The human development syndrome. International Studies in Sociology and Social Anthropology, 23(1), 74–96.

Ito, M., Baumer, S., Bittanti, M., Boyd, D., Cody, R., Herr-Stephensen, R. & Horst, H. (2010). Hanging out, messing around, geeking out: Living and learning with new media. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Ito, M., Gutiérrez, K., Livingstone, S., Penuel, B., Rhodes, J., Salen, K…Watkins, S. C. (2013). Connected learning: An agenda for research and design. Irvine, CA: Digital Media and Learning Research Hub.

Jenkins, H. (2006). Convergence culture: Where old and new media collide. New York, NY: New York University Press.

Jenkins, H., Purushotma, R., Weigel, M., Clinton, K. & Robison, A. J. (2009). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Kline, R. B. (2015). Principles and Practice of Structural Equation Modeling (Fourth Edition). New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Kress, G. (2008). Meaning and learning in a world of instability and multiplicity. Studies in Philosophy and Education, 27(4), 253–266.

Kunter, M., Klusmann, U., Baumert, J., Richter, D., Voss, T. & Hachfeld, A. (2013). Professional competence of teachers: Effects on instructional quality and student development. Journal of Educational Psychology, 105(3), 805.

Loveless, A. & Williamson, B. (2013). Learning identities in a digital age: Rethinking creativity, education and technology. London: Routledge.

Maira, S. & Soep, E. (2005). Introduction. In S. Maira & E. Soep (Eds.), Youthscapes: The popular, the national, the global (pp. 1–11). Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Markussen, E. (2014). Utdanning lønner seg. Oslo: NIFU.

Means, B., Toyama, Y., Murphy, R. F. & Bakia, M. (2013). The Effectiveness of Online and Blended Learning: A Meta-Analysis of the Empirical Literature. Teachers College Record, 115(3), 1–47.

Mooij, T. (2009). Education and ICT-based self-regulation in learning: Theory, design and implementation. Education and Information Technologies, 14(1), 3–27.

Mullis, I. V. S. & Martin, M. O. (2014). TIMSS advanced 2015 assessment frameworks. Chestnut Hill, MA: TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center, Boston College.

Nunnally, J. C., Bernstein, I. H. & Berge, J. M. T. (1967). Psychometric theory. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Oblinger, D. G. & Oblinger, J. L. (2005). Educating the next generation. Boulder, CO: Educause.

OECD. (2014). New insights from TALIS 2013. Paris: OECD.

OECD. (2016). PISA 2015 results in focus. Paris: OECD.

Ogden, C. L., Carroll, M. D., Kit, B. K. & Flegal, K. M. (2014). Prevalence of childhood and adult obesity in the United States, 2011-2012. Jama, 311(8), 806-814.

Papert, S. (1980). Mindstorms: Children, computers, and powerful ideas. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5), 1–6.

Prensky, M. & Gee, J. P. (2006). “Don't bother me, mom, I'm learning!” How computer and video games are preparing your kids for twenty-first century success – and how you can help! St. Paul, MN: Paragon House.

Rich, Y. & Schachter, E. P. (2012). High school identity climate and student identity development. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 37(3), 218–228.

Rogers, A. (2014). PISA, power and policy: The emergence of global educational governance. International Review of Education, 60(4), 591–596.

Sahlberg, P. (2014). Finnish lessons 2.0: What can the world learn from educational change in Finland? New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Selwyn, N. (2011). Education and technology: Key issues and debates. London: A&C Black.

Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, 2(1), 3–10.

Stald, G. (2008). Mobile identity: Youth, identity, and mobile communication media. In: D. Buckingham (Ed.), Youth, identity, and digital media (pp. 143–164). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Sunstein, C. & Thaler, R. (2008). Nudge. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Syvertsen, T., Enli, G., Mjøs, O. J. & Moe, H. (2014). The media welfare state: Nordic media in the digital era. Ann Arbour, MI: University of Michigan Press.

Tapscott, D. (1998). Growing up digital: The rise of the net generation. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Thomas, D. & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Lexington, KY: CreateSpace.

Turkle, S. (2011). Alone together: Why we expect more from technology and less from each other. London: Basic Books.

Vavik, L. & Salomon, G. (2015). Twenty-first century skills vs. disciplinary studies? In Y. Rosen, S. Ferrara & M. Mosharraf (Eds.), Handbook of research on technology tools for real-world skill development (pp.1–21). Cambridge: MIT Press.

Wearing, S. L., McDonald, M. & Wearing, M. (2013). Consumer culture, the mobilisation of the narcissistic self and adolescent deviant leisure. Leisure Studies, 32(4), 367–381.

Wortham, S. (2011). Youth cultures and education. Review of Research in Education, 35(1), vii–xi.

Wößmann, L. (2015). Universal Basic Skills: What countries stand to gain. Paris: OECD Publishing.




How to Cite

Elstad, E., Arnesen, T., & Christophersen, K. A. (2018). Comparing antecedents for Norwegian, Swedish, and Finnish youths’ agentic beliefs in informal online learning. Nordic Journal of Comparative and International Education (NJCIE), 1(2).