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Riikka Hofmann


Professor of the Learning Sciences

Docent (Adjunct Professor) in Psychology of Education, University of Helsinki

Fellow at Hughes Hall

E-mail Address


(+44) 01223 767538


  • MA (University of Helsinki)
  • PhD (University of Cambridge, Gates Scholar)

Advice for prospective doctoral students

Membership of Professional Bodies/Associations and Senior Advisory Roles

  • Cambridge University Medical Education Group CUMEG
  • Expert member of the Cross-Whitehall Trials Advice Panel (2014-) (see article)
  • Expert member of the Evaluation Advisory Panel of the What Works Centre for Children's Social Care (2019-)
  • Expert member of UK Government Leadership Research, Evidence and Impact Advisory Panel (2021-)
  • American Educational Research Association (AERA)
  • European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction (EARLI)
  • British Educational Research Association (BERA)
  • International Society for Cultural and Activity Research (ISCAR)
  • Finnish Educational Research Association (FERA)
  • BSRLM best paper award, 2015

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Riikka Hofmann is a Professor of the Learning Sciences in the Faculty of Education where she leads the Research Strand “Dialogue, Professional Change and Leadership” in the Faculty’s Cambridge Educational Dialogue Research Group (CEDiR). She holds the Title of Docent in Psychology of Education at the University of Helsinki, and is co-founder of Cambridge University Medical Education Group (CUMEG) based at the University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine.

Riikka’s research addresses the well-known challenge that impacting on professional practice through research and education is very difficult even when practitioners desire change. Trained in both ethnographic and experimental methodologies, Riikka’s work investigates the outcomes and constituent mechanisms of professional learning in attempts to develop more equitable research-based practices and outcomes in the public sector. She studies change efforts in both educational and healthcare settings, and through her policy work also investigates implications in policy contexts and the wider social policy field.

Riikka is highly committed to supporting real-world impact of research. She is an expert advisor on research-informed policy making working with the UK Government and the National Health Service (NHS) and international bodies such as the World Bank. As expert member of several advisory bodies, including the Cabinet Office-led cross-Whitehall Trials Advice Panel, the Leadership Research, Evidence and Impact Advisory Panel and the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care, she has been centrally involved in taking research into the heart of public services and decision-making.

At the Faculty, Riikka is Masters Programme leader and the Faculty’s PPD manager, developing new pathways into higher education to widen participation and inclusion.

Research Topics

  • Professional learning and change in educational and healthcare settings
  • Interaction and dialogue in educational and professional settings
  • Learning to lead in Medicine
  • Pedagogic innovation and equity in education
  • Sociocultural psychology and cultural-historical activity theory

Research Projects

'5Ws Impact study': An impact study of leadership professional development for interprofessional collaboration across the public sector (with the UK Cabinet Office). Cambridge University Policy Impact fund. 2023.

A Study to Evaluate the Optimal Strategy for Interprofessional Education in a Specialist
Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit. (With Dr Zilley Khan and Dr Nicola Jones, Royal Papworth Hospital.) Papworth Innovation Fund. 2022-23.

Integrating learning sciences and advanced, Extended Reality-technology to theorise, develop and evaluate research-based augmented virtual reality-enhanced simulations in medical education. (With Dr Arun Gupta, CUH.) ESRC-DTP. 2021-25.

Evaluation of the Health Education East of England Blended Learning Platform (with Hughes Hall, Cambridge). HEEoE. 2021-23.

Clinical leadership develoment at times of COVID. Cambridge University Health Partners. 2020-21 (With Prof. Jan D Vermunt, Eindhoven University of Technology)

International collaboration partner in the COSIMA Research Unit, LMU-University of Munich, Munich Center of the Learning Sciences. DFG/German Research Foundation. 2020-23.

Senior Research Advisor, the Directorate for a Research and Innovation Hub on Technology for Education (EdTech Hub). 2019-24.

MMED-SIM (Measures of learning outcomes in Medical EDucation through technology-enhanced SIMulations for developing non-clinical professional competences: A Scoping Review). Society for Research into Higher Education. 2019-20.

Learning in the Professions. (With Prof. Frank Fischer, Munich Center of the Learning Sciences and Prof. Martin Fischer, Institute for Medical Education, LMU University of Munich.) Cambridge-LMU Strategic Partnership Fund. 2019-20.

School based health promotion: understanding the educational context to facilitate change. (With Dr Kirsten Corder & Dr Esther van Sluijs, MRC Epidemiology Unit.) ESRC-DTP. 2019-23.

Early Career Teachers’ Professional Agency across four European countries - Key for Sustainable Educational Change? (ECTPA) (PI: Dr Tiina Soini, University of Tampere/Helsinki.) Academy of Finland. 2018-22. 

DIalogue and Argumentation for cultural Literacy Learning in Schools (DIALLS) (PI Dr Fiona Maine). EU Horizon 2020.

ED:TALK Toolkit: Creating a research-informed Implementation & Self-Evaluation ‘toolkit’ for schools to effectively implement, and self-evaluate the impact of, research findings to improve teaching and learning through classroom dialogue. (With Dr Sonia Ilie.) ESRC Impact Acceleration Account.

Evaluation of the p2i entrepreneurship programme. (With Dr Katia Smith-Litiere, University of Cambridge and Prof. Hannes Rothe & Dr Alisa Fluhrer, Freie Universitaet Berlin.) Office for Postdoctoral Affairs, University of Cambridge. 2017-19.

Barriers and facilitating factors to impacting change in clinical practice through CPD: with N. Jones & A. Rubino (Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust). FoE R&D and RCoA. 2016-18.

The role of dialogic/symmetrical interactions among peers in diverse, multimodal reading situations: with F. Maine (University of Cambridge) and S. Rojas-Drummond (National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM)). British Academy. 2016-18.

Evaluation of the Chief Residents’ Leadership and Management Programme in Medicine: with Jan Vermunt. CUHP. 2016-18.

TEACh [Teaching Effectively All Children]: Learning outcomes and teacher effectiveness for children facing multiple disadvantages, including those with disabilities: India and Pakistan with Prof Pauline Rose, Prof Anna Vignoles and Prof Nidhi Singal. ESRC-DfID. 2015-18. 

Effecting Principled Improvement in STEM Education (epiSTEMe): Student Engagement and Learning in Early Secondary-School Physical Science and Mathematics, ESRC Principal Investigators: Professors Kenneth Ruthven, Christine Howe, Neil Mercer, Keith Taber (University of Cambridge). 2008-13.

OER4Schools Introducing digital Open Educational Resources into Zambian primary schools through school-based professional development Dr Sara Hennessy and Dr Bjoern Hassler 2009-2014.

A tool for analysing dialogic interactions in classrooms: Dr Sara Hennessy, Faculty of Education and Prof Sylvia Rojas-Drummond, National Autonomous University of Mexico [PIs] with Prof Neil Mercer & Paul Warwick. 2013-2015.

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Course Involvement

Masters Programme Leader

Coordinator of the Research Methods Element of the Postgraduate Certificate in Educational Assessment and Examinations

Core teaching team member: Educational Leadership and Improvement (ELsI); MPhil Research Methods Strand (RMS).

Supervises Masters and Doctoral students (advice for prospective doctoral students here)

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Teacher professional learning and school-based research

Learning in medical contexts and HE

Teacher professional learning and school-based research

Hofmann, R., Raavola, S. & Rainio, A.P. (2024, accepted). Abductive methodology: opening the mystery of generating theory through qualitative inquiry in practice settings.

Ryan, M., Ricardo, L. I., Nathan, N., Hofmann, R., & van Sluijs, E. (2024). Are school uniforms associated with gender inequalities in physical activity? A pooled analysis of population-level data from 135 countries/regions. Journal of Sport and Health Science. [LINK]

Sailer, M., Bauer, E., Hofmann, R., Kiesewetter, J., Glas, J., Gurevych, I. & Fischer, F. (2023). Adaptive feedback from artificial neural networks facilitates pre-service teachers’ diagnostic reasoning in simulation-based learning. Learning and Instruction, 83. [LINK]

Hofmann, R. & Ilie, S. (2023). Opportunity Area Fenland and East Cambridgeshire Delivery Years 2021-2022 (Year 5) Evaluation Report - Executive Summary. [LINK]

Ilie, S. & Hofmann, R. (2023). Identifying key impacts of the Fenland and East Cambridgeshire Opportunity Area: Year 5 Evidence Review. [LINK]

Ryan, M., Hoffmann, T., Hofmann, R. & van Sluijs, E. (2023). Incomplete reporting of complex interventions: a call to action for journal editors to review their submission guidelines. Trials, 24. [LINK]

Ryan, M., Alliott, O., Ikeda, E., Luan, J. A., Hofmann, R., & van Sluijs, E. (2022). Features of effective staff training programmes within school-based interventions targeting student activity behaviour: a systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 19(1), 1-23. [LINK]

Hofmann, R. & Ilie, S. (2022). Theory-Led Evaluation of a Scalable Intervention to Promote Evidence-Based, Research-Informed Practice in Schools to Address Attainment Gaps. Education Sciences, 12(5), 353. Special Issue: Establishing Links between Research on Educational Effectiveness and School Improvement: Constraints and Perspectives). [LINK]

Hofmann, R., Ilie, S., Broeks, M. & Chu, C.P.K. (2022). Identifying key impacts of the Fenland and East Cambridgeshire Opportunity Area: Years 1-4 Evidence Review. [LINK]

Ilie, S. & Hofmann, R. (2022). Oldham Opportunity Area Impact Synthesis Report. [LINK]

Hofmann, R. Arenge, G., Dickens, S., Marfan, J., Ryan, M., Tiong, N.D., Radia, B. & Janik Blaskova, L. (2021). The COVID-19 learning crisis as a challenge and an opportunity for schools: an evidence review and conceptual synthesis of research-based tools for sustainable change. Center for Educational Policy Studies Journal, Special Issue ‘Education in the COVID-19 Era,’ Vol. 11. [LINK]

Rainio, A.P. & Hofmann, R. (2021). Teacher professional dialogues during a school intervention: From stabilization to possibility discourse through reflexive noticing. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 30(4-5), 707-746. [LINK]

Hofmann, R., Vrikki, M. & Evagorou, M. (2021) Engaging Teachers in Dialogic Teaching as a Way to Promote Cultural Literacy Learning: A Reflection on Teacher Professional Development. In: F. Maine & M. Vrikki (Eds). Dialogue for Intercultural Understanding Placing Cultural Literacy at the Heart of Learning (pp. 135-148). Springer Nature. [LINK]

Hassler, B., Hennessy, S. & Hofmann, R. (2020). OER4Schools: Outcomes of a Sustained Professional Development Intervention in Sub-Saharan Africa. Frontiers in Education (Section Teacher Education). [LINK]

Maine, F., Rojas-Drummond, S., Hofmann, R., & Barrera, M. J. (2020). Symmetries and asymmetries in children's peer group reading discussions. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 43(1), 17-32, Special Issue: Talk and Interaction. [LINK]

Hofmann, R. (2019). Dialogue, Teachers and Professional development. In: N. Mercer, R. Wegerif & L. Major (Eds). The Routledge International Handbook of Research on Dialogic Education. Routledge.

Hofmann, R. & Ruthven, K. (2018). Operational, interpersonal, discussional and ideational dimensions of classroom norms for dialogic practice in school mathematics. British Educational Research Journal, 44(3), 496-514. [LINK]

Hassler, B., Hennessy, S., & Hofmann, R. (2018). Sustaining and Scaling Pedagogic Innovation in Sub-Saharan Africa: Grounded Insights For Teacher Professional Development. Journal of Learning for Development-JL4D, 5(1). [LINK]

Ruthven, K., Mercer, N., Taber, K. S., Guardia, P., Hofmann, R., Ilie, S., ... & Riga, F. (2017). A research-informed dialogic-teaching approach to early secondary school mathematics and science: the pedagogical design and field trial of the epiSTEMe intervention. Research Papers in education, 32(1), 18-40. [LINK]

Rojas-Drummond, S., Maine, F., Alarcón, M., Trigo, A. L., Barrera, M. J., Mazón, N., ... & Hofmann, R. (2017). Dialogic literacy: Talking, reading and writing among primary school children. Learning, Culture and Social Interaction, 12, 45-62. [LINK]

Hofmann, R. (2016). Leading professional change through research(ing): Conceptual tools for professional practice. In P. Burnard, T. Dragovic, J. Flutter and J. Alderton (Eds.). Transformative Professional Doctoral Research Practice. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

Hofmann, R., & Mercer, N. (2016). Teacher interventions in small group work in secondary mathematics and science lessons. Language and Education, 30(5), 400-416. [LINK]

Hennessy, S., Hassler, B., & Hofmann, R. (2016). Pedagogic change by Zambian primary school teachers participating in the OER4Schools professional development programme for one year. Research Papers in Education, 31(4), 399-427. [LINK]

Hofmann, R. & Niemi, H. (2016). Teacher education and University Training Schools: What lessons can be learned from Finland? Invited Chapter in P. Gronn & J. Biddulph (Eds.) A University's Challenge: Cambridge’s Primary School for the Nation. Cambridge University Press.

Ruthven, K., & Hofmann, R. (2016). A case study of epistemic order in mathematics classroom dialogue. PNA (Pensamiento Numérico y Algebráico) Special Issue on Language and Mathematics, 11(1): 5-33. [LINK]

Hofmann, R. (2016). Book review of H. Niemi, J. Multisilta, L. Lipponen & M. Vivitsou (2014, Eds). Finnish innovations and technologies in schools: A guide towards new ecosystems of learning. (Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.) Teacher Development: An international journal of teachers' professional development, 20(3), pp. 434-436.

Taber, K.S., Ruthven, K., Mercer, N., Riga, F., Luthman, S. & Hofmann, R. (2016). Developing teaching with an explicit focus on scientific thinking. School Science Review, 97(361), pp. 75-85.

Rojas-Drummond, S., Márquez, A.M., Hofmann, R., Maine, F., Rubio, A.L., Hernández, J. & Guzman, K. (2016). Oracy and literacy in the making: Collaborative peer writing in the primary years. In A. Surian (Ed.). Open spaces for Interactions and Learning Diversities (pp. 69-108). Sense Publishers.

Maine, F. & Hofmann, R. (2016). Talking for meaning: the dialogic engagement of teachers and children in a small group reading contexts. International Journal of Educational Research, 75, 45-56. [LINK]

Rainio, A.P. & Hofmann, R. (2015). Transformations in teachers’ discourse about their students during a school-led pedagogic intervention. The European Journal of Social and Behavioural Sciences, XIII(2), pp. 1815-1829. [LINK]

Hennessy, S., Haßler, B., & Hofmann, R. (2015). Challenges and opportunities for teacher professional development in interactive use of technology in African schools. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 24(5), 1-28. [LINK]

Howe, C., Luthman, S., Ruthven, K., Mercer, N., Hofmann, R. Ilie, S. & Guardia, P. (2015). Rational number and proportional reasoning in early secondary school: towards principled improvement in mathematics. Research in Mathematics Education, 17(1), 38-56. [LINK]

Howe, C., Ilie, S., Guardia, P., Hofmann, R., Mercer, N. & Riga, F. (2015). Principled improvement in science: Forces and proportional relations in early secondary-school teaching. International Journal of Science Education, 37(1), 162-184. [LINK]

Taber, K. S., Ruthven, K., Howe, C., Mercer, N., Riga, F., Hofmann, R., & Luthman, S. (2015). Developing a research-informed teaching module for learning about electrical circuits at lower secondary school level: supporting personal learning about science and the nature of science. In E. de Silva (Ed.), Cases on Research-Based Teaching Methods in Science Education. Hershey, Pennsylvania: IGI Global.

Ruthven, K. & Hofmann, R. (2013). Chance by design: devising an introductory probability module for implementation at scale in English early-secondary education. ZDM – The International Journal on Mathematics Education, Special Issue on Classroom-based interventions in mathematics education, 45(3), 409-423. [LINK]

Hofmann, R. (2013). Book review of H. Niemi, A. Toom & A. Kalliomäki (2012, Eds). Miracle of Education: the principles and practices of teaching and learning in Finnish Schools (Rotterdam: Sense Publishing), Teacher Development: An international journal of teachers' professional development, 17(1), pp. 152-154.

Ruthven, K., Hofmann, R., & Mercer, N. (2011). A dialogic approach to plenary problem synthesis. In B. Ubuz (Ed.). Proceedings of the 35th Conference of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education, Vol. 4, pp. 81-88. Ankara, Turkey: PME. [LINK]

Ruthven, K., Hofmann, R., Howe, C., Luthman, S., Mercer, N., & Taber, K. (2011). The epiSTEMe pedagogical approach: essentials, rationales and challenges. Proceedings of the British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics 31(3), 131-136. [LINK]

Ruthven, K., Howe, C., Mercer, N., Taber, K., Luthman, S., Hofmann, R., & Riga, F. (2010). Effecting Principled Improvement in STEM Education: Research-based pedagogical development for student engagement and learning in early secondary-school physical science and mathematics. Proceedings of the 7th. British Congress of Mathematics Education [BCME 7], published as Proceedings of the British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics 30(1), 191-198.

Hakkarainen, K., Bollström-Huttunen, M., and Hofmann, R. (2008). Teacher-researcher dialogue and expansive transformation of pedagogical practices. Nordic Journal of Digital Literacy, 3, 156-177. [LINK]

Hofmann, R. (2008). 'Rethinking 'ownership of learning': Participation and agency in the Storyline classroom'. In: S. Bell, S. Harkness and G. White (Eds.), Storyline: Past, present and future (pp. 64-78). Glasgow: University of Strathclyde.

Hofmann, R. and Rainio, A.P. (2007).'It doesn't matter what part you play, it just matters that you're there'. Shared Agency in Narrative Play Activity in School. In: R. Alanen and S. Pöyhönen (Eds.), Language in Action. Vygotsky and Leontievian legacy today (pp. 308-328). Newastle-upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Hakkarainen, K., Bollström-Huttunen, M., Pyysalo*, R. and Lonka, K. (2005). Tutkiva oppiminen käytännössä: Matkaopas opettajille (Progressive Inquiry in Practice: A guide for teachers). Porvoo: WSOY.

Learning in medical contexts and HE

Hofmann, R., Raavola, S. & Rainio, A.P. (2024, accepted). Abductive methodology: opening the mystery of generating theory through qualitative inquiry in practice settings.

Heitzmann, N., Fischer, F., Hofmann, R. & Seidel, T. (Eds, 2023). Editorial for the special issue: Advances in simulation-based learning in higher education. Guest edited Special Issue in: Learning and Instruction, 86(2023): 101774. [LINK]

Sailer, M., Bauer, E., Hofmann, R., Kiesewetter, J., Glas, J., Gurevych, I. & Fischer, F. (2023). Adaptive feedback from artificial neural networks facilitates pre-service teachers’ diagnostic reasoning in simulation-based learning. Learning and Instruction. [LINK]

Hofmann, R. & Darnton, R. (2022). "This trainee makes me feel angry:” It’s time to validate the reality and role of trainer emotions. Medical Education, 6(4) 359-361. [LINK]

Hofmann, R., Curran, S. & Dickens, S. (2021). Models and measures of learning outcomes for non-technical skills in simulation-based medical education: Findings from an integrated scoping review of research and content analysis of curricular learning objectives. Studies in Educational Evaluation, Special Issue ‘Assessment and evaluation of simulation-based learning in higher education and professional training.’ [LINK]

Hofmann, R. & Vermunt, J.D. (2021). Professional learning, organisational change and clinical leadership development outcomes. Medical Education, 55(2), 252-265. [LINK]

Hofmann, R. with Curran, S. & Dickens, S. (2021). A scoping review to investigate the models and measures of learning outcomes used in research on professional skills development in technology-enhanced simulation-based medical education (the MMED-SIM project). A scoping review report. Society for Research into Higher Education. [LINK]

Hofmann, R. (2020). Dialogues with Data: Generating theoretical insights from research on practice in higher education. M. Tight & J. Huisman (Eds). Theory and Method in Higher Education Research 6th Ed (pp. 41-60). Emerald. [LINK  NB. behind paywall]

Hofmann, R. (2020). The three paradoxes of leadership: Overcoming barriers that stop new leaders from delivering change. Commissioned for the Cabinet Office Thinkpiece series. [LINK]

Hofmann, R. & Vermunt, J.D. (2017). Professional development in clinical leadership: Evaluation of the Chief Residents Clinical Leadership and Management Programme. Faculty of Education Working paper no. 5, 12/2017. University of Cambridge. Available online at:

Clark, A. D., Barone, D. G., Candy, N., Guilfoyle, M., Budohoski, K., Hofmann, R., ... & Trivedi, R. A. (2017). The Effect of 3-Dimensional Simulation on Neurosurgical Skill Acquisition and Surgical Performance: A Review of the Literature. Journal of Surgical Education, 74(5), 828-836. [LINK]

Kostusiak, M., Hart, M., Barone, D. G., Hofmann, R., Kirollos, R., Santarius, T., & Trivedi, R. (2017). Methodological shortcomings in the literature evaluating the role and applications of 3D training for surgical trainees. Medical Teacher, 39(11), 1168-1173. [LINK]

Clark, A. D., Guilfoyle, M. R., Candy, N. G., Budohoski, K. P., Hofmann, R., Barone, D. G., ... & Trivedi, R. A. (2017). Stereoscopic Three-Dimensional Neuroanatomy Lectures Enhance Neurosurgical Training: Prospective Comparison with Traditional Teaching. World Neurosurgery, 108, 917-923.e5. [LINK]

Pyysalo*, R. (2002). Using multiple representations to scaffold distributed learning in virtual university. In: H. Niemi and P. Ruohotie (Eds.), Theoretical understandings for learning in virtual university (pp. 91-118). Hämeenlinna: Research Centre for Vocational Education and Training (RCVE).

*now: Hofmann.

Advice for prospective doctoral students

I will consider PhD and EdD applications in the areas of professional learning, professional change, organisational learning, dialogue and learning, medical education, clinical and educational leadership. My group has doctoral students from a range past studies and professions, and from different parts of the UK and the world, studying these topics.

If you would like to enquire about a possibility of applying for doctoral study under my supervision, please write me an email informally before putting in a formal application, so I can explain if the proposed research fits with my research programme and whether I have capacity to accept applications into my research group.

In your email, please describe your academic and/or professional background and your proposed research topic (and if you have one, a brief research proposal or outline). Please also explain how your research topic links with my research area. If you don't receive a response within three weeks, please re-send your email.

I will respond to let you know if I would be a suitable supervisor for your proposed topic and and if I have capacity to accept applications to my research group.

Riikka Hofmann

image of staff member