22 SES 06 A, Paper Session
The university pedagogical training is in strategic role for three reasons. Firstly, it supports development of the pedagogical competence on the individual level. Secondly, it may facilitate the development of collaborative teaching cultures (Hargreaves & O’Connor, 2018) on the organizational development in universities. Third, when answering to global and social needs the trainings have potential to have an effect on societal development as well. So far, the university pedagogical training has been examined from different perspectives (eg., Kálmán et al., 2020). However, the holistic overview of the university pedagogical training is missing. The purpose of this paper is to present results of a holistic evaluation of university pedagogical training in one Finnish university with the focus on the relevance of the training in relation to recent global trends in this area in general, and as regards to competence needs of future professionals in particular. The trends were identified from higher education pedagogical research, and in various strategic documents. The aim of the study was to examine how university pedagogical trainings meet the challenges identified in recent research and strategy documents. In more detail, the following research questions were addressed:
1) How themes identified in higher education pedagogical research and strategic papers are present in university pedagogical training?
2) What kind of opportunities and tensions can be identified in regard of further development of the university pedagogical trainings?
The requirement of the development of the research-based university education obliges to offering education and development of university teaching in line with recent research (Toom et al., 2020). Higher education pedagogical studies and related wider research underline the importance of the development of responsible expertise (Tynjälä et al., 2020a) including the development of generic skills (eg., Häkkinen, 2017; Virtanen & Tynjälä, 2019), and teachers and students’ agency (eg., Eteläpelto et al., 2015; Jääskelä et al., 2020a). Further, more and more attention is paid to practices promoting students’ and teachers’ well-being (eg., Puolakanaho et al., 2018; Räsänen et al., 2016). As there is a recognition of various approaches to learning and teaching and learning theories (Tynjälä, 2017), there is an emphasis on implementation of the student-centred approaches and diversification of various approaches to learning, guidance and assessment (Bechter et al., 2019; Boud, 2000; Tangney, 2014; Virtanen & Tynjälä, 2019). The digitalisation of higher education and integration of new technologies in teaching and learning is also visible as one of the trends (Toom & Pyhältö, 2020). The relevance of university education to the students’ future working life, as well as to societal and global challenges is underlined. The recent research shows the benefits of integrating practice-based experiences into university studies for students’ learning, development of generic skills, and future career prospects (Billet, 2015; Tynjälä et al., 2020b). The question of equal participation in higher education and interactions in intercultural and multicultural spaces including changes caused by that in university teacher work has also been raised as an important issue (eg., Grida & Hadjar, 2014; Zappa-Hollman, 2018). Those new challenges are also visible in endeavours to restructure curriculum towards responding to these societal and global demands (Jalkanen & Nikula, 2020; Friman et al., 2018). Collaboration and integration across different subjects is recognised as important for implementation of these initiatives (Jalkanen & Nikula, 2020; Zappa-Hollman, 2018) and growing as a teacher (Arvaja & Sarja, 2019; Borawski, 2017). Altogether, the themes described above were regarded as a starting point for the evaluation of pedagogical studies in the present study. Similar themes were also identified in our review of various higher education strategic papers. However, there are differences in used terms and language between research literature and strategic documents.
This evaluation study was conducted in a middle-sized university in Finland. The university offers to its staff four university pedagogical training modules ranging from 10 to 35 credit points, and including a special model related to teaching academic contents in English. One of the modules (the smallest study unit) is an obligatory course for all permanent staff of the university, which needs to be completed within 2 years after gaining a permanent position. All the training modules are (more or less) based on experiential learning approach. The main objective of the trainings is supporting participants in becoming a reflective and autonomous educator. Data of this study consist of key strategic documents for higher education development (n = 5), higher education pedagogical research (over 200 scientific articles and publications), and group interviews (n = 9) with trainers and participants of all the four training modules. The analyse throughout the study followed the principles of thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006). First, the strategic documents and the higher education pedagogical research were examined/analysed to identify key themes (global trends) that are of importance for implementation and further development of university pedagogical training. Second, in the direction of the identified themes, a document analysis focusing on the curricula and descriptions of the pedagogical training modules was implemented. In this analysis the documents of the training modules were compared with the themes identified in research and strategy documents. The analysis was supplemented conducting group interviews with the participants and teachers of pedagogical courses (n = 9). The transcribed interviews were analysed utilizing thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006) with focus on the presence of the central thematic highlights from the research and strategic papers in the reflection of trainers involved in implementation of the training modules and trainings’ participants. Finally, the data were considered in the more holistic way with the aim of identifying opportunities and tensions related to implementation and further development of university pedagogical training.
The study offered a holistic understanding of the university pedagogical training by making visible how the themes identified in the recent pedagogical research and strategic papers are included in the university pedagogical training modules’ descriptions and in reflections of various stakeholders (trainers and participants) involved in the implementation of the training. The preliminary analyses showed that especially topics related to 1) student-centred teaching, guidance and assessment, 2) collaboration, networking and peer-support as well as 3) development of responsible expertise (especially from the point of view of building of own teaching philosophy) were taken well into account in all training modules. The aforementioned themes were included in both the contents and modes of working of the trainings. A surprising finding was that themes related to development of the generic skills and nature of the expertise were not included in descriptions of any training modules. These notices also found confirmation in analysis of the interview material. Both the trainers and participants perceived the learning and getting experiences of learner-centerdness, growing as human being and academic teacher through self-reflection, as well as collaboration and networking as the main features of the trainings. They can also be seen as strengths of the current training model. The study pointed the need of including into trainings topics related to students’ and teachers’ well-being, digitalisation, sustainable development as well as pedagogical leadership and programmatic development. The study revealed also tensions related to the implementation of the pedagogical training. One of them related to lack of appreciation of teaching and its development in academic profession. The training model may also require further development in terms of meeting the needs of various groups of participants (including an international staff) in terms of its contents, practices and systemic changes.
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