The co-ordinator for teaching quality on degree programmes at TAMK is Satu Kylmälä. She defines high quality teaching as the kind which enables students to reach the goals set for each course.
– The teacher has to be a pedagogical expert, who can structure each teaching situation so as to facilitate the students’ learning. At the same time, students tend to have preconceived ideas about studying and teaching, which also affects their perceptions of teaching quality, Kylmälä explains.
Kylmälä goes on to say that TAMK has a curriculum advisory board, which has established some general principles for curriculum development, teaching qualifications, and evaluation criteria.
Teachers take part in an annual planning process, in which they draw up implementation plans for each of their courses. These plans describe in some detail the contents of the course, the aims, scheduling arrangements, possible links with working life, and the criteria that will be used for grading students’ performance.
Timely evaluation of learning situations is important
Kylmälä explains that teachers systematically evaluate their own work and the feedback they receive from students, and they use this as input when planning future course implementations.
– Each individual lesson makes a contribution to teaching quality. That’s why planning every course, together with the teaching methods, is essential for maintaining the quality of teaching and enabling successful learning.
– To a certain extent, teaching quality can be assessed on the basis of student feedback and the grades students get. But the essential thing from the quality point of view is the timely evaluation of learning situations by students. This is the best way to reach the set learning and performance goals.
At the end of the day, the decisive measure of quality is the rate at which students find work once they graduate, and whether or not they possess the skills they need to succeed in working life.
Kylmälä sums up the matter as follows:
– At the end of the day, the decisive measure of quality is the rate at which students find work once they graduate, and whether or not they possess the skills they need to succeed in working life.
Students are free to give feedback on any aspect of their studies at TAMK whenever they like. In addition, feedback is collected on every implementation of every course. Personal feedback is discussed in face-to-face guidance and development interviews for students and teachers. Annual feedback is collected on study programmes. Graduating students also complete a feedback form. All feedback is used as input for continuous development of TAMK’s education. The major development needs are incorporated into the operational targets for the following year.
Professional development is part of the job
Co-operation with different parties inside and outside TAMK, and the feedback they get from this co-operation help teachers to develop their own professional know-how and teaching skills. Co-operation takes many forms: sitting on an advisory board for one of the degree programmes; collaborating with companies which commission final theses or provide practical training placements; participating in RDI projects – these are just a few of the options.
Teachers can also do their vocational teacher education at TAMK, or participate in other in-service training programmes.
– What’s more, teachers have the opportunity to take time off from their regular duties to work in an outside organization for an agreed period of time, says Head of Planning Toni Niittymäki.
Professional development also takes place through collaboration among TAMK colleagues. Certain courses are planned and implemented by pairs or small teams of teachers working together.
– It’s all part of the so-called ”new teachership”, which is moving away from the traditional “go-it-alone” teaching culture, explains Niittymäki.
TEXT: KUKKA-MAARIA KORKO
TRANSLATION: ANN SEPPÄNEN
PHOTOS: JOEL FORSMAN
CONSTRUCTION SITE MANAGEMENT – LEARNING BY GAMINGTAMK’s construction engineering students are learning how to deal with real management situations that arise on construction sites by playing a game called “Risks and Opportunities”. The game has been designed by Skanska Ab – a company providing services in the construction and project development fields.
In spring 2015, an updated form of a course called Management Skills was held at TAMK; one of its innovative features is a gaming day. Senior Lecturer Eero Nippala explains that less time is now spent on traditional lecturing and more on activities that simulate practical work-life situations.
– Simulations of real-life scenarios enable students to learn how to deal with all kinds of situations that might crop up on the job. The feedback from the students has been very positive, says Nippala.
Now, simulations of real-life scenarios enable students to learn how to deal with all kinds of situations that might crop up on the job.
The objective of the game is to construct an imaginary building worth 400 million euros. Small groups of students act as teams responsible for making site-management decisions.
– The game simulates the whole process of the construction project – from the tendering stage to completion. Problems arise as the game proceeds, depending on decisions taken earlier in the game, explains Nippala.
Playing the game gives the students some conception of a construction project in its entirety. After the student groups have made their decisions, the game team from Skanska shows how each of their choices has particular knock-on effects.
The game is designed first and foremost for Skanska’s internal development purposes, and it is now being used in several different countries. In addition to its partnership with TAMK, Skanska has a similar agreement with Metropolia University of Applied Sciences in Helsinki.
TEXT: KUKKA-MAARIA KORKO
TRANSLATION: ANN SEPPÄNEN
PHOTO: EERO NIPPALA