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Tampere University awards education developers

Published on 5.6.2020
Tampere University
Palkinnonsaajat ryhmäkuvassaVice President, Education Marja Sutela (left) and from the awarded teams Associate Professor Mari-Pauliina Vainikainen, Senior Specialist Mervi Miettinen, Professor Jaakko Kauko, University Instructor Juha Nykänen, University Instructor Johanna Ruoranen, University Instructor Sanna Auvinen, University Instructor Mikko Vanhatalo, Associate Professor (tenure track) Tero Juuti and Senior Research Fellow Helena Leppäkoski
On 5 June, Tampere University awarded a prize for teaching excellence and the development of teaching. The prize was shared by the Creative Problem Solving and Systems Engineering study unit, which is part of the basic studies of engineering students, and the Quality and Evaluation in Education study unit, which is an optional course in the Master’s Degree Programme in Educational Studies.

The teams responsible for developing and implementing the study units received €7.500 each. The sum is intended to cover the costs of teaching development by the awarded people, teams, faculties or units. Such costs include, for example, conference travel costs, the organisation of pedagogical seminars or freeing teachers’ working time for the further development of teaching and education.

The prizes were awarded in an online seminar on pedagogy. In addition, an honorary mention was granted to the entire teaching staff for coping and flexibility with the exceptional arrangements this spring. The seminar was organised by the Teaching and Learning Centre network (TLC), which is a joint undertaking of Tampere University and TAMK that has the mission of supporting the development of teachers’ pedagogical skills.

Communal development and student involvement

Since the merger of the universities in Tampere last year, this was the first time the prize for teaching excellence and the development of teaching was awarded. In spring, proposals for award recipients were collected from the university’s staff and students, and a judging panel chaired by the Vice President for Education selected the recipients from among the proposals. More than 60 proposals were received.

The purpose of this prize, which will be annually awarded henceforth, is to call attention to high-quality teaching and the development of education. In addition to teachers and researchers, the winners may represent, for example, support services, library staff, administration, working life or other societal actors.

“The criteria for the award will be annually refined, but it will always be based on excellently organised and implemented teaching that supports the comprehensive development and growth of students’ competence,” says Marja Sutela, Vice President for Education at Tampere University.

“The criteria for this year’s prize emphasised the communal development of teaching, which means the impact of collaboration in creating better teaching and learning practices. In both awarded study units, communal development is emphasised,” Sutela continues.

The Creative Problem Solving and Systems Engineering study unit is part of the basic studies of automation engineering, materials engineering and mechanical engineering. Students take the course in their first semester at the University.

The justifications for the prize state that the previously lecture-based teaching in the course has been replaced by problem-based learning in small groups. The justifications also highlight participatory methods that involve students, and the development of teaching and supervision across the boundaries of subjects and units. In addition to the teachers in the course, the course has been planned and implemented by academic officers, study psychologists, and experts in entrepreneurship, speech communication, and the Library’s information retrieval specialists. Master’s students in speech communication also taught communication and interaction skills in the course.

The Quality and Evaluation in Education study unit is part of the Master’s Degree Programme in the Study of Education and Society and also the study module on university pedagogy.

The justifications for the award pay attention to the interaction between teachers and students in the course. They state that the awarded teachers encouraged the students to provide open feedback and developed teaching based on their suggestions. The teachers were able to develop the teaching communally in a large lecture course by experimenting innovatively and boldly. Teaching was developed with students in small groups and in common discussion platforms throughout the lecture course.

Both awarded courses have used teaching and supervision methods and approaches that make provision for different learners, which have been developed and utilised boldly and open-mindedly.

High-quality teaching is the University’s goal

In the new strategy adopted by Tampere University in February, the quality and impact of education has been raised as one of the four measures that support the strategy.

“We will develop excellent services to support learning and teaching. That is why it is important to encourage teachers and their pedagogical development and renewal in different career stages. Motivated teachers who develop their teaching are a prerequisite for high-quality and innovative pedagogy in the Universities community,” Sutela says.

“By awarding teacher teams that have developed teaching, Tampere University wants to highlight the important work done by these teams. We hope that the prizes will also serve as an inspiration to others interested in the development of teaching,” Sutela notes.


The recipients of the award:

Quality and Evaluation in Education study module:

Associate Professor Mari-Pauliina Vainikainen (EDU) and Professor of Education Jaakko Kauko (EDU)

Creative Problem Solving and Systems Engineering study module:

University Instructor Mikko Vanhatalo (ENS/Kone), Associate Professor (tenure track) Tero Juuti (ENS/Kone), University Instructor Juha Nykänen (ENS/Mat), University Instructor Sanna Auvinen (ENS/Mat), University Instructor Johanna Ruoranen (ENS/Mat), Senior Research Fellow Helena Leppäkoski (ENS/Aut), Senior Specialist Mervi Miettinen (Library), University Lecturer Sanna Ala-Kortesmaa (ITC/speech communication), Visiting Researcher Ulla Saari (MAB/entrepreneurship), Academic Officer Hanna Lehtelä (ENS)

Text: Tiina Wesslin
Photo: Jonne Renvall