During the last ten years Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences, School of Vocational Teacher Education has operated abroad in many countries. Co-operation in South Africa, Pretoria started in 2015, when representatives from Tshwane University of Technology visited Haaga-Helia. The university was interested in developing pedagogical skills and the ideas of their teachers.
Haaga-Helia’s pedagogical teacher education program in Pretoria started in 2016. Since then three teacher student groups have graduated from the program. The total number of participants in those three groups was 78, out of which 71 graduated. The graduation rate is 91 %, which is good if we compare it, for example, to the graduation rates in Haaga-Helia teacher education in Finland, where the graduation rate often varies between 80 – 90 %.
The implementation of the program is a combination of contact periods and distance periods with a parallel process of guidance and counselling. During the contact periods, Haagahelian teachers work together with the participants in Pretoria. Throughout the distance-learning period, our teachers in Helsinki use several distance learning platforms and digital methods with the participants who are present in Pretoria.
Most of the participants are teachers or other staff members in a technical university in Pretoria. All participants have a prior university degree, most of them a master´s degree, many a doctoral degree and some a bachelor´s degree.
At this very moment, almost 80 students are busy with their teacher studies in Pretoria.
The program has proven to be a success. After completing their studies, the participants are asked to evaluate the program and to give feedback through a questionnaire. The participants evaluate the quality of the contact periods, the quality of the distance periods and the usefulness of the program personally for them.
Few comments stated that the local premises and facilities or big student groups did not allow the use of all the new pedagogical methods learned in the Haaga-Helia program.
“Although the teaching methods used were good, it is very difficult in our context to implement these methodologies since our classes are very big.”
Some respondents also brought up the need to develop the curricula and the co-operation with the world of work.
“Notably, we have also identified the need to develop or improve curricula that meet the changing needs of workplaces.”
However, in general, the feedback has been very positive. All the 63 respondents considered the teacher education of Haaga-Helia useful.
Most commented that they had learned a lot or that their thinking of teaching had been renewed. Most of all, they learned student centred teaching methods. This learning outcome was frequently mentioned in all three graduation groups.
The other learning outcomes often mentioned were teaching methods, especially collaborate teaching, and the use of digital methods in teaching. Assessment of learning, planning of teaching and networking were also among those frequently mentioned learning outcomes.
Many of the student even wanted to recommend the teacher education program for all the teachers in the university.
“This program should be done for all the lecturers in higher education.”
In addition to the feedback of the teacher students, we also had an intense feedback discussion with the directors of Tshwane University of Technology. It was more than rewarding to hear that learning outcomes were visible and graduation rates much better as a result of the pedagogical development.
Co-operation and new projects go on in Pretoria. It is not only the positive feedback, but also the learning experiences of our staff members, which encourage and inspire us to work even harder for even better results in the challenging world of education.
Jari Laukia, PhD, Director, Haaga-Helia School of Vocational Teacher Education
Jutta Paukkonen, Training Manager, Haaga-Helia School of Vocational Teacher Education