Science teachers pedagogical studies in Finland

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1 1 Science teachers pedagogical studies in Finland Jari Lavonen Summary An overview of planning, organising and evaluating of science teachers pedagogical studies in Finland is given. Examples are from the University of Helsinki. 1 Introduction The basic decision behind the structure and contents for teacher education programmes were decided 30 years ago when separate teacher education colleges and teacher training schools were joined to become a part of the universities in From the very beginning the objective of teacher education has been to educate pedagogically thinking teachers who are able to think reflectively over their teaching. Although, the study programmes have changed several times during these 30 years the orientation for research-based teacher education has stayed same. The social atmosphere in Finland towards chemistry, mathematics and physics education has many positive aspects. It is generally accepted that the society has great demand of trained people with skills in mathematics and sciences. This was clearly expressed in the national LUMA 1 programme ( ) (LUMA Programme, 2004). First, we will have a look on national educational strategies and how the teacher education programmes in general are based on those strategies. Second, we will describe how science teachers pedagogical studies is organised at the University of Helsinki. 2 National guidelines for teacher education programmes Class teachers are teaching almost all subjects in primary school at grades 1-6 (pupils 7-12 years old), including mathematics and science. Subject teachers are teaching at grades 7-9 (students years old) in lower secondary school and at grades (students years old) in upper secondary school typically two subjects, like mathematics and physics or chemistry and biology. Master level programmes for subject teachers are offered by eight universities in Finland. In all Finnish universities the Bologna process (3 + 2 years study programme) was completed during the year 2005 (Reform of university degrees, 2005). Only minor structural changes were needed for existing teacher education programmes: the qualification of all teachers in Finland was earlier and is also in future a masters degree 1 The acronym LUMA comes from Finnish language terms: Luonnontieteet [Natural Sciences] and Matematiikka [Mathematics])

2 2 requiring a minimum of 300 credit points (cp.). These credits are in accord with European Credit Transfer System (1 ECTS = 1 cp. = 27 hours work). However, several pedagogical changes were made while developing the new teacher education programmes. Universities in Finland have autonomy and, therefore, they are responsible for developing the study programmes and evaluating what and how students are learning independently on their own. Neither there is a national organisation which would take care of teacher qualification or organising of an exam to evaluate competence of a teacher candidate. However, it is reasonable that there is interaction between national educational policy and university level decision making. According to the general national education strategy Education and Research (2004) and several previous ones, education at the university shall be based on scientific research and professional practices in the field. The study programme should especially provide the students knowledge and skills needed for operating independently as an expert and developer of their field. In addition to the general strategy, there have been and are several other strategies describing goals for teacher education, like Education and Research (2004), Teacher Education Development Programme (2002) and Education, Training and Research in the Information Society (1999). According to them the teacher education programmes should help students among other things to acquire: high-level subject knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge, and knowledge about how knowledge is constructed, academic skills, like research skills; skills to use pedagogically Information and Communication Technology, skills needed in processes of developing a curricula, social skills, like communication skills; skill to cooperate with other teachers, knowledge about school as an institute and its connections to the society (school community and partners, local contexts and stakeholders), moral knowledge and skills, like social and moral code of the teaching profession, skills needed in developing one s own teaching and the teaching profession. A research-based approach as a main organising theme of teacher education, emphasising teacher s pedagogical thinking, is typically integrated into the teacher education programmes in Finland. There is a consensus in Finland that in addition to subject knowledge, pedagogical knowledge needed in a teacher profession is composed of three large content areas: pedagogical content knowledge or subject didactics, the theory of education and practice. A teacher is using this knowledge in his/her pedagogical thinking when he/she is making and justifying his/her pedagogical decisions in the classroom. Pedagogical content knowledge integrates subject knowledge and research based knowledge about teaching and learning in subject teacher education. In the subject teacher education program this approach is especially emphasised within the pedagogical studies but also in the studies at the subject department. According to the national educational strategies and the research-based approach in teacher education, a teacher should be educated to be an expert in his/her field. This

3 3 policy gives a lot of freedom and responsibility to the teacher. He/she is, for example, responsible for developing a curriculum for courses based on national guidelines and also selecting of learning materials. In Finland there are no national inspectors inspecting teaching, neither there is no systems of national acceptance of learning materials. However, organiser of local education, typically a municipality, is responsible for evaluating how the schools are working and student learning at schools (NCCBE, 2004). 4 Subject teacher education programme at the University of Helsinki At the University of Helsinki the mathematics and science teacher education is organised in co-operation with the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Behavioural Sciences as described in Figure 1 (more Kaivola, Kärpijoki & Saarikko, 2004). Studies are divided into two parts: the subject is studied at the department of the particular subject (e.g. Physics) and the pedagogical studies in the Department of Applied Sciences of Education and two Teacher Training Schools. The main purpose of the subject teacher education programme is to educate in co-operation with three subject departments, Department of Applied Sciences of Education and training schools enthusiastic subject teachers with the competencies described in the previous chapter. University of Helsinki Faculty of Behavioural Sciences Faculty of Science Teacher University Training Practising Schools Dept. of Applied Sciences of Education Dept. of Chemistry Dept. of Mathematics and statistics Dept. of Physical Sciences Masters level degree of a subject teacher Pedagogical studies Subject studies Figure 1. Organisation of the subject teacher education at the University of Helsinki. Students in subject teacher education programme take a major and a minor in the subjects they intend to teach in school. Typical combinations in so called mathematical subjects are mathematics physics, mathematics chemistry, mathematics computer science, physics chemistry and chemistry biology. However, the students are free to choose also other combinations of subjects, like mathematics home economics. Students study their major and minor subjects at the subject departments which are responsible for organising the subject studies. The Department of Applied Sciences of Education (previously Department of Teacher Education) is responsible for organising studies for the 60 cp. of pedagogical studies (second minor). This gives the students in their major

4 4 and minor subject the qualification necessary for teaching positions in all types of schools. The subject teacher students make their master thesis (40 cp.) in the subject. (figure 2) Bachelor s level (180 cp.) Master s level (120 cp.) Credit points Masterthesis Major Subject Minor Subject Pedagogical studies Communication and language studies Figure 2. A typical structure of a master s degree of a subject teacher. 5 Pedagogical studies During the pedagogical studies, the students subject knowledge, knowledge about teaching and learning, subject didactics and school practises are integrated into students own personal pedagogical theory (Trotman & Kerr, 2001). According to the curriculum the students should, for example be aware of the different dimensions of the teaching profession (social, philosophical, psychological, sociological, and historical basis of education), be able to reflect broadly based on their own personal pedagogical theory on their own work, and have potential for lifelong professional development. The pedagogical studies are divided into bachelor s level studies (25 cp.) and master s level studies (35 cp.). The core of the bachelor s level studies is to acquire basic skills for teachers. In the master s level studies the students deepen their pedagogical understanding. Pedagogical studies consist of studies in general education (E), subject didactics (S) and teaching practice (P) (see Figure 4). Typically, the following areas are discussed within subject didactics: teaching and learning mathematics and science, students interest and motivation in mathematics and science, national and local curriculum and curriculum planning, teaching methods, ICT in mathematics and science education, evaluation and research methodologies in mathematics and science education research. Studies are divided into four modules, placed to the 4 teaching periods of the university and to master s and bachelor s level studies as described in figure 3. The first module introduces theoretical basis for teaching and learning of a subject. Students are also visiting schools and observing lessons and, moreover, participating in micro teaching

5 5 sessions. In module 2 the students have their first teaching practice. The students plan in small co-operative groups teaching sessions and also teach together in a classroom. In the third module focus is on evaluation and reflection in all levels: starting from students self evaluation and ending to the evaluation of operations of a school. Moreover, the students participate in an applied teaching practice, for example, in a vocational school. In the fourth module the students have their masters level practice. They collect also empirical data, based on research questions, analyse the data and write a pedagogical theses during the practice. Separate modules of the four module program can be chosen in sequential years in any phase of the subject teacher education programme. Autumn (Bachelor s level 25 cp.) Module 1 (15 cp.) E I: Psychology of development and learning (4 cp.) E II: Special needs education (4 cp.) E + S I: Theoretical, psychological, and didactical basis related to teaching and learning a subject (7 cp.) Module 2 (10 cp.) S II: Seminar on teaching methods and planning (3 cp.) P I: Teaching practice in Teacher Training School (7 cp.) Spring (Master s level 35 cp.) Module 3 (17 cp.) E III: Social, historical, and philosophical basis of education (5 cp.) S III: Seminar on curriculum work and evaluation of learning and teaching (7 cp.) P II: Applied practice (5 cp.) Module 4 (18 cp.) E IV + A IV: Teacher as a researcher seminar (10 cp.) P III: Master s level practice in Teacher Training School (8 cp.) Figure 3. Pedagogical studies of a subject teacher (E = education, S = subject didactics and P = teaching practice) One third of the pedagogical studies is teaching practice. According to the feedback from the students, teaching practice is evaluated by the students very highly compared to other courses in the training. Teaching practice is very practical and hands-on type of work and that explains, at least partly, why it is so highly valued. Many students feel, especially in the beginning of their studies, that theory or research based knowledge about teaching and learning a subject is something that they must study but which is not closely related to actual work as a teacher. Formal teaching about theory is easily apart from teaching practice and, therefore, may not be an appropriate approach to combine theory and practice together. Therefore, "theory" in teacher education is linked to school practice in several ways. For example during the lectures and seminars our approach is problem oriented that is based on or related to theoretical framework. To be able to do this, it requires the students to read reference books, web pages, research articles, and attend lectures. Moreover, theory and practice is related by using portfolios and portfolio assessment as a part of studies. When working on portfolios the students are made to consider both theoretical knowledge and practical work. It is considered important, that a teacher student does not think that a single teaching method could solve all pedagogical problems in the classroom. For these purposes we

6 6 have prepared a web based learning environment which introduces several teaching methods suitable for science education. In this environment teaching methods are divided in four families: 1) experimental teaching methods, 2) teaching method that support social interaction, 3) teaching methods that support information processing and 4) teaching methods that support problem solving (Joyce, Weil & Calhoun, 2003). In every family there are several models of teaching introduced (Table 1). Table 1. The logical structure of the web based learning environment for teaching methods. Family Goals Models/Strategies Experimental To develop acquisition of scientific knowledge development of different work or process related skills understanding of nature of natural sciences student attitudes and motivation to study science Small group working Information Processing Creative Problem Solving To develop social skills communication skills To develop logical thinking processes thoughtful citizens and critical thinking. To develop divergent thinking creative skills resources to see things in new/ different ways Observation, Inquiry Training, Concept Attainment, Exercises, Experiences and Investigations, Practical Work, Teacher Demonstrations, Classroom Practicals, Small-Group Activities, etc. Cooperative Learning, Group Discussion, Role Playing, Debate, etc. Learning by Reading and Writing, Advanced Organizers, Mind Mapping, Memory Model Problem Solving, Brainstorming, Overall Mapping of Problem Situation Each section starts with an introduction where theoretical background of the model is given (how this model supports learning, what is the cognitive background of the model etc.). Secondly, the syntax of the model is introduced with several examples. Thirdly, cases in the context of different content areas of science and technology are presented. Furthermore, there are information sections about evaluation and different models of evaluation. Conclusions Although there are several national strategies, like Education and Research ; Development Plan (2004), guiding teacher education, all universities in Finland are responsible themselves for developing and evaluating teacher education programme. In Helsinki University this work is done collaboratively together with the staff from subject departments, Department of Applied Sciences of Education, Training Schools and students. The teacher education program is aiming to provide the students knowledge and skills

7 7 needed for operating as an expert in science and mathematics education and, moreover, skills to develop this field. Especially, the teacher education programmes help students to acquire: 1 high-level subject knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge, and knowledge how knowledge is construed, 2 skills needed in processes of developing a curricula and ones own teaching, 3 skills, like communication skills; skill to cooperate with other teachers; ICT skills, 4 knowledge about school as an institute and its connections to the society (school community and partners, local contexts and stakeholders), 5 moral knowledge and skills, like social and moral code of the teaching profession. A research-based approach has been adopted in teacher education as a main organising theme, emphasising teacher s pedagogical thinking. According to this principles all teachers in Finland have masters level degree and they prepare a masters thesis. The aim of the thesis is to train students to find and analyse problems they face in their future work. These small scale researchers training improve teachers competence to plan, teach and evaluate. References Education and Research ; Development Plan (2004). Publications of the Ministry of Education, Finland 2004:8. Available online: Education, Training and Research in the Information Society: A National strategy for (1999) Helsinki : Ministry of Education. Available online: Joyce, B., & Weil, M., & Calhoun, E. (2003). Models of teaching (7th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon Kaivola, T, Kärpijoki, K. & Saarikko, H. (Eds.) (2004). Towards Coherent Subject Teacher Education: Report on the Collaborative Improvement Process and International Evaluation. Helsinki: Evaluation projects of the University of Helsinki, 21. LUMA- Programme. (2004). Finnish Know-how in Mathematics and Natural Sciences in Available in the Internet [http://www.minedu.fi/minedu/education/luma/finn_knowhow.html] visited NCCBE (2004). National Core Curriculum for Basic Education Helsinki: National Board of Education. Reform of university degrees. (2005). Ministry of Education. Available online: Teacher Education Development Programme. (2002) Helsinki : Ministry of Education, Department for Education and Research Policy. Available online: Trotman, J. & Kerr, T. (2001). Making the Personal Professional: pre-service teacher education and personal histories. Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, 7 (2),

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