22 SES 02 B, Teaching, Learning and Assesment in Higher Education
In Finland, many studies have shown that university students consider that their education is too theoretical and is not able to respond to the needs of the changing world of work. For example, university graduates have reported that that their studies rarely develop the kind of skills required in the working life (Tynjälä et al., 2006). On the other hand, students in some studies have not perceived that certain skills that they had learned in the university, such as research skills, thinking skills and problem-solving skills, are necessary skills in the working life (Murtonen et al., 2008; Tynjälä, Helle & Murtonen, 2002). At the same time, research findings show that in addition to domain-specific academic knowledge, employers emphasise more and more what are called generic skills in newly graduated employees (e.g. Tulevaisuusluotain, 2006; Barrie & Prosser, 2004). Therefore, it is not surprising that the developing the connections between universities and the world of work has been emphasised in the Finnish higher education policy at the moment (Education and research 2007-2012). Expanding practical training periods has often been presented as one solution, although teachers are already now worried about how working life can manage with the constant stream of students (Virtanen, Tynjälä & Stenström, 2009). Another solution would be the development of university pedagogy towards models which integrate theory and practice (e.g. Tynjälä, 2008; Guile & Griffiths, 2001; see also Helle et al., 2006; Dochy et al., 2003).
While previous studies have focused more on the sufficiency of the generic skills among graduates, in this study we will examine university students’ experiences of their studies as regards working life connections and the development of generic skills. First, we intend to survey what kind of knowledge and skills the students learn during their higher education. Second, we will examine how university students see the connections between their education and working life and, third, we will analyse what is the relationship between the students’ self-assessed generic skills acquisition and the nature of working life connections of their study programme.
Barrie, S., & Prosser, M. (2004). Generic graduate attributes: citizens for an uncertain future. Editorial. Higher Education Research & Development 23(3), 243-246. Dochy, F., Segers, M., Van den Bosshe, P., & Gijbels, D. (2003). Effects of problem-based learning: a meta-analysis. Learning and Instruction 13(5), 533-568. Education and research 2007-2012. Development plan. Ministry of Education. Finland. Retrieved January 13, 2010, from http://www.minedu.fi/export/sites/default/OPM/Julkaisut/2008/liitteet/opm11.pdf?lang=fi Guile, D., & Griffiths, T. (2001). Learning through work experience. Journal of Education and Work 14(1), 113-131. Helle, L., Tynjälä, P., Lonka, K., & Olkinuora, E. (2006). Project-based learning in post-secondary education – theory, practice and rubber sling shots. Higher Education 51(2), 287-314. Murtonen, M. Olkinuora, E. Tynjälä, P. & Lehtinen, E. (2008). Do I need research skills in working life? University students’ motivation and difficulties in quantitative methods courses. Higher Education 56(5), 599-612. Tulevaisuusluotain. (2006). Verkostoitumisesta voimaa osaamiseen. Loppuraportti. Elinkeinoelämän keskusliitto. Tynjälä, P. (2008). Perspectives into learning at the workplace. Educational Research Review 3, 130-154. Tynjälä, P., Helle, L,. & Murtonen, M. (2002). A comparison of students’ and experts’ beliefs concerning the nature of expertise. In E. Pantzar (Ed.), Perspectives on the age of the information society (pp. 29-49). Reports of the Information Research Programme of the Academy of Finland, 6. Tampere University Press. Tynjälä, P., Slotte, V., Nieminen, J., Lonka, K., & Olkinuora, E. (2006). From university to working life: Graduates’ workplace skills in practice. In P. Tynjälä, J. Välimaa, & G. Boulton-Lewis (Eds.), Higher education and working life: Collaborations, confrontations and challenges (pp. 73-88). Amsterdam: Elsevier. Virtanen, A., Tynjälä, P., & Stenström, M-L. (2009, June). Guidance practices in students’ workplace learning: Field-specific features. Paper presented at the 6th International Conference on Researching Work and Learning, Roskilde, Denmark.
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