Being a Good University Teacher

The University of Helsinki Teachers’ Academy, the only network of distinguished university teachers in Finland, is celebrating its fifth anniversary this spring. The Academy was founded to promote teaching and improve its general standing in the academic community. It also encourages teachers to upgrade their qualifications which affects positively on university students’ quality of learning.

In the University of Helsinki’s web article What Makes a Good Teacher? (published March 23rd), a few of the Teachers’ Academy fellows share their thoughts on the subject. Hanna Korsberg, the chair of the Teachers’ Academy, tells in the article that she prefers dialogue-based style of teaching, which helps the students to learn and develop their scientific thinking.

Another interviewed Academy fellow in the article is Katariina Vuorensola, who is university lecturer in pharmaceutical chemistry. She thinks that it is important to focus on the development of students’ skills when planning teaching. According to the article, Vuorensola treats her students as individuals and offers assignments that help the students to track their own development during the course.

Liisa Peltonen, university lecturer in physiology, points out in the article that teachers should be interested in and enthusiastic about the things they teach. She explains that she tries to convey her own enthusiasm during a class, which may motivate the students to learn. Peltonen also brings up the importance of lifelong learning as part of the future of teaching.

Lastly in the article Johanna Rämö from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics talks about including the students in guidance. She involves more advanced students in teaching and they get to guide junior students. Rämö tells in the article that the method is useful for planning teaching, because the senior students have a view on what kind of guidance the younger students might need and which areas they might find difficult.

So what does being a good university teacher require? According to the Teachers’ Academy fellows interviewed in the article, it includes dialogue-based teaching, treating the students as individuals and helping them to evaluate their own development, being enthusiastic and interested, and including the students in guidance.

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