22 SES 01 B, Teaching, Learning and Assesment in Higher Education
One of the ultimate aims of university studies is to develop students’ scientific thinking. During the basic, advanced and specialised studies of the major subject various study modules of theories, paradigms and methods are organised to enhance their academic abilities. Elements of scientific thinking are embedded in the academic curriculum from the very first study modules based on the main principle of universities, ie. teaching is based on research. Especially during the last two years of studies (Master’s studies after a 3-year Bachelor’s degree) they are intensively involved in preparing their own research process which ends up into a Master’s thesis.
This presentation deals mainly with the students whose aim is to become teachers for the primary (class teachers) or secondary school (subject teachers). All teacher education in Finland takes place at the research-based universities and students take a higher academic degree after five years of studies. The prospective class teachers have 'education science' as their major subject. The prospective subject teachers study first their major subject (subject to be taught later at the comprehensive school) and are expected to study pedagogical studies (60 ects) to receive the certificate of a fully qualified teacher (regulated by a decree). University studies are available also at the Open University (OU) without any prior demands for the students’ educational background, and the courses of OU are identical to the university courses.
To combine the studies of substance and methodology or vocational and academic expectations is not always an easy task but has succeeded quite well in Finland during the last twenty years (Jakku-Sihvonen & Niemi 2006). Discussions on main research paradigms (quantitative, qualitative, mixed-methods) are vivid also among students who will be involved in the principles of teacher-as-researcher approach. Depending on how they learn to conceptualise the key ideas of education, upbringing, guidance and learning they may have various expectations and attitudes towards research on them and the usefulness of research as such in the development of schooling and education. (Meyer et al. 2005.)
Based on the prior attributes to research, students may see the role of education science differently from each other and also from the intentions of curriculum planners (Deem & Lucas 2006). Full understanding of methodological concepts and principles is a challenging cognitive activity and various learning difficulties concerning methods and methodology have been reported in the research reports (see Murtonen et al. 2007). Since Perry, many academics (King & Kingston, Koslowski, Kuhn, Schauble, Zimmerman) have designed models to describe the phases or levels of the development of students’ scientific thinking. The indicate the path from simple fact-based epistemologies to more complex ones.
The research questions were:
1.. In which way university students describe the concept ‘science’?
2. In which way the university students describe the concept ‘educational science’?
3. What is the relationship between these conceptualisations and students’ definitions of ‘education’?
Deem, R. & Lucas, L. 2006. Learning about research: Exploring the learning and teaching/research relationship amongst educational practitioners studying in higher education. Teaching in Higher Education 11 (1), 1–18. Jakku-Sihvonen, R. & Niemi, H. 2006. Research-based teacher education in Finland: Reflections by Finnish teacher educators. Finnish educational research association. Research in educational sciences 25. Meyer, J., Shanahan, M. & Laugksch, R. 2005. Students’ conceptions of research. A qualitative and quantitative analysis. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research 49 (3), 225–244. Murtonen, M., Rautopuro, J. & Vaisänen, P. (eds.). 2007. Learning and teaching of research methods at university. Finnish educational research association. Research in educational sciences 30.
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