22 SES 09 C, Support and Feedback in Teaching and Learning
The University of Helsinki is a bilingual university with the responsibility of educating experts both in Finnish and in Swedish in a number of fields. Hence, the university introduced bilingual bachelor degrees in 2014 (TvEx-programmes) in a variety of fields. The aim is to educate bilingual experts with at least C1-level in their weaker national language (L2). Students attend one third of the courses in Finnish, one third in Swedish, and one third in a language of their choice.
In our current project we investigate both the strengths and the challenges that the teachers as well as the students face regarding learning to become an expert and supporting it. The main aims of the project are 1) to develop teaching methods which take the linguistic asymmetry of the students into account and support deep learning, as well as 2) to develop linguistic support for the students in writing, speaking, understanding, and reading. We also wish to encourage students’ self-regulation, motivation, and engagement to the studies in such a way that they employ all the possibilities of the bilingual program.
The methods in the study are both quantitative and qualitative. The data consists of participant observation and field notes, retrospective interviews with the students, a survey for the students as well as interviews with the teachers. Finally, workshops and other events will be provided for the participants in the framework of action research. In this paper, the aim is to investigate teachers’ approaches to teaching in supporting students’ learning in bilingual contexts. The specific research interest is on the characteristics of the learning environment and pedagogical practices teachers utilized during the course. We will focus on the findings provided by participant observation and retrospective interviews with the students (n=15). Through qualitative content analysis, we will analyze the way the teacher interacts with his or her students, the way students perceive the bilingual learning environment in terms of learning to become an expert within the field, and teaching in general.
The preliminary findings from the lecture observations and the student interviews suggest that the lessons are relatively teacher focused. Knowledge transmission is the most common way of teaching, and there is limited interaction between the students and the teachers. Some of the teachers are fairly unaware of the linguistic asymmetry of the student groups, especially in the case of Swedish speaking students studying partly in Finnish. One reason for this is that the student groups often are very large (up to 200 students). Furthermore, the student interviews indicate that the students are unwilling to ask questions during class, especially since they are expected to do it in their L2, but also because of the general lack of interaction. The students also report that if they lose the thread during the lecture, they turn to Facebook or to writing e-mails, instead of asking the teacher to clarify the topic. On the other hand, the findings also indicate that some teachers demonstrated student-focused approach in their teaching. They were especially careful in their presentation of the core themes of the lecture, and paid special attention in clarifying the key concepts for students. They also provided specific bilingual learning materials for students to support their learning. Teachers allowed students’ questions and discussion during the lecture which helped students in elaborating the unclear issues. The tentative results indicate that there exists a huge variation among teachers in their approaches to teaching for student learning in bilingual contexts. It might be related to teachers’ different pedagogical competence or information regarding student learning, strengths and challenges. Empirical research results are needed in order to be able to support teachers pedagogically in the questions related to bilingual experts’ learning.
Hélot, Christine 2014: Rethinking Bilingual Pedagogy in Alsace: Translingual Writers and Translanguaging. – Blakledge, Adrian & Creese, Angela (eds.): Heteroglossia as Practice and Pedagogy. Springer. Lave, J. & Wenger, E. 1991. Situated learning: legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Mazak, C.M. & K. S. n Carroll (toim.) 2017: Translanguaging in Higher Education: Beyond Monolingual Ideologies. Multilingual Matters. Ushioda, Ema & Dörnyei, Zoltán 2009 (eds.): Motivation, Language Identity and the L2 Self. Multilingual Matters.
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