INTERACTION AND EEDUCATION: WHAT KIND OF SUPPORT IS NEEDED TO DEVELOP UNIVERSITY TEACHING?
Higher education institutions are facing an on-going pressure to develop pedagogy which promotes high-quality learning and supports studying in various learning circumstances. Flexible and meaningful learning possibilities which develop skills for the world of work like active agency, collaboration, and construction of knowledge through interaction with others, is needed in university pedagogy. To address these needs, multidisciplinary network for developing university teaching has been introduced at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland since 2011.
The network aims to:
1) develop pedagogically high-quality learning possibilities for students and support their agency as learners,
2) support teachers in their continuous pedagogical developmental work,
3) facilitate pedagogical meaningful ways of using Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) for learning, and
4) produce evidence-based knowledge on the experiences of teachers and students during developmental interventions.
Even though the main focus of the developmental work is based on the strategy of the university jointly shared among teachers, a bottom-up policy with respect to teachers’ expertise and autonomy directs the whole activity. Interactivity in teaching and learning as well as flexible and ICT-supported opportunities to study have been defined as the main developmental themes until now. In addition, developing pedagogy together with other teachers in a multidisciplinary network and sharing teaching experiences in the university community have been the central courses of action in the project.
In the study, the following research questions were addressed:
1) what were the teachers’ experiences of teaching development and their needs for support in their work, and
2) how did the students assess their learning and agency in the developed courses.
The data were collected by interviewing 34 teachers, and by implementing a questionnaire for 341 students in the developed courses. Comparative data were collected from 161 students who participated in traditional university courses. Qualitative content analysis was used to analyze the teacher interviews, and the students’ answers were analyzed by using statistical methods such as factor analysis, and variance analysis.
The teachers viewed the research-based orientation as a meaningful supportive factor when they develop pedagogy. Collaboration with other teachers, resources allocated particularly for renewing pedagogy, support of the head, and dissemination of the developing work in a community also encouraged them for continuous development. The development of the teaching methods was reflected in the students’ views on their own agency. The more interactive pedagogy was used in the courses, the more participative, peer supported and stronger learners the students viewed themselves.
Next we will analyze the role of ICT in the pedagogical development in a more detailed way. We will study how ICT could support the pedagogical development in various levels at the university context. In our presentation we will describe the developed model for multidisciplinary network, the ways of support for teachers offered in the network, the nature of the teaching interventions and the results of the study.