Teaching portfolio

Philosophy and ethics of teaching

University needs more this kind of teaching that teaches you to think.” (Student feedback)

“With his enthusiasm and expertise, the teacher aroused in me a profound interest in political thinking.” (Student feedback)

 “In the lecture-rooms of the university no other virtue holds but plain intellectual honesty.” This is what Max Weber taught in his famous lecture on Science as Vocation and I fully agree with it.

I am also convinced that the good academic teacher must have a vocation or calling for both research and teaching and profound desire to communicate to the students both his own research as also the core issues and problems of his discipline. If the teacher does not have this enthusiasm, even the best teaching techniques cannot help him to create a fertile spirit of teaching.

Above all, the academic teacher must not underestimate his students or their abilities, but must believe in their own yearning to learn even difficult things. For me the ethics as ethos of teaching means trying to stir up in students an enthusiasm for learning as also a courage to know.

Yet this should not mean leaving students to study independently by themselves using the values of independence and self-education as excuses for lack of proper instruction and expertize on the side of the teacher.

There is tendency in pedagogical sciences, which lack any specific substance of their own, to overvalue the independent team-working of students and different “creative” teaching methods, yet at the same time undervaluing the substantial expertize of teacher. But before you can do team-work or learn trough common discussions, you must have some substance to discuss about. And nothing is so frustrating than teacher who has nothing to say or communicate.  In this respect, I do not think than even the old model of expert lecturing is bygone teaching method. At least students themselves do not despise it, but quite on contrary appreciate it and seek after it in the higher education. And although seminars, discussions, and teamwork support more active learning, they also require the guidance and comments from the teacher.

Personally, I have tried to practice blended teaching, where expert lecturing is blended with self-studying and discussion groups, as also the lecture hall is blended with the different digital and social learning environments. My major lecture courses all based on my own research and teaching materials, had also included digital learning environments and demands of independent textual research done by students in this way combining lectures, team-work, discussions groups and learning to do independent research.

Nonetheless the specific virtues of teaching are not to be found from teaching technologies or different digital environments, but they are born from the practical experience of teaching itself, which includes also the learning always done by the teacher himself. I always try to select the methods and subjects of my teaching in the light of the criteria of how I myself would want to be taught and my teaching is integral part of my research work.

Even the transmission of information has always principal place in teaching, it should not be understand only as sharing or passing information but as arousing the will to know. Furthermore, in our information society there is not lack of information per se but rather profound need to learn to analyse, scrutinise and manage knowledge as to have abilities to critically question the forms and substance of given information.  Yet the most important is the students will to knowledge, for it is impossible to teach people, who do not want to learn or think that they already know everything that they “need to know.”

I have tried specially to develop students’ conceptual skills to analyze and problematize issues. Even though students are also advised to express their own opinions, the opinion is not the same as the concepts, and to express one’s own opinion is not the same thing than ability conceptualize things.

Particularly, the teacher of political science cannot teach students his own political opinions or judge and evaluate students according to their political opinions. He can only try to teach them to analyse and conceptualize politics.

I have attempted to inspire students to think and learn and in the light of the student feedback, it seems that I have at least partly succeed in this.

Practical experience in teaching

“You’ve got to do this pretty much.” (Colleague’s comment on the lecture)

I have wide-ranging and long-lasting practical academic teaching experience.

I began to teach at the University of Helsinki as soon as I was graduated (1995). Since then I have worked there as part-time teacher (1995-2016), currently having the position of the adjunct professor (Title of Docent), (2013-2016). I have also worked as full time senior assistant teacher in Politics (2004-2006) and as university teacher in World Politics (2008 – 2009).

I have taught politics, world politics and administration in the Department of Political and Economic Studies in the University of Helsinki and Politics in the Department of Social Sciences and Philosophy in the University of Jyväskylä.

I have also been visiting lecturer in the other departments of University of Helsinki (Sociology, Social Policy, Law, Religious Studies) as in the several departments of other universities and colleges (University of Genoa, University of Turku, Aalto University, University of Arts Helsinki) and adult education institutions (Open University, Critical Academy, Finnish Adult Education Centre), where I have taught politics and philosophy as also art and cultural theories.

I have taught in all levels of academic education, basic courses, advanced courses and post-graduate and doctoral studies as also been thesis supervisor in bachelor, master and doctoral level.  Active teaching languages have been Finnish and English and passive Swedish. I have organized lecture courses and seminar teaching, worked as a course coordinator and faculty examiner. I have taught in face to face interactive small groups, as also lectured for large masses. I have taught in personal and digital environments, managed net-courses, as also practiced different forms of digital and e-learing.

I had been supervisor and evaluator in bachelor and master thesis using various methodologies (both qualitative and quantitative) and handling multiple subject matters in both political studies, administration studies and world politics. I am supervising two doctoral dissertations.

As supervisor, I emphasize the importance of the research question seeing that the choice of methodology and material should always be subordinated to the actual research question. People tends to stick to some methodology or research material without working out first what is their actual research question. For example, the qualitative method does not answer to the quantified question as the quantified methodology does not answer to the qualified question. Indeed, my quite extensive knowledge of theories and methodology of social sciences, has been particularly useful where there has been a demand to supervise thesis done in various subject matters and using very different methodologies. When working as a full-time teacher, I have also participated in the design and development of faculty teaching, design of study units and forms, as also guiding and managing students personal study plans.

Pedagogical training, teaching samples and evaluation

“What becomes to the consistency of the material and to the enthusiasm and knowledge of teacher, your lectures had been the most excellent ones I have never participated in the University. (Student Feedback)

“Definitely the best lectures in the University.” (Student Feedback)

I have done pedagogical basic studies (10 credits) required from university teachers as also participated in the courses training verbal expression and Urkund – plagiarism detection.

I had given trial lectures for Senior Lecturer (2007) and Adjunct Professor (2013). Both were rated as good, the other as an excellent what becomes to the disposition and parsing of the material. The best feedback has however come from the students themselves, where several students had praised my lectures as the best teaching they had never attended in the academic world.

I have collected regular written feedback from student and discussed about the teaching and learning methods with students. On this basis, I have continuously tried to develop my teaching as also introduced and experiment new teaching methods and technologies.

I have done pedagogical basic studies (10 credits) required from university teachers as also participated in the courses training verbal expression and Urkund – plagiarism detection.

I had given trial lectures for Senior Lecturer (2007) and Adjunct Professor (2013). Both were rated as good, the other as an excellent what becomes to the disposition and parsing of the material. The best feedback has however come from the students themselves, where several students had praised my lectures as the best teaching they had never attended in the academic world.

I have collected regular written feedback from student and discussed about the teaching and learning methods with students. On this basis, I have continuously tried to develop my teaching as also introduced and experiment with new teaching methods and technologies.

Teaching technologies, production of learning material and development of teaching

The facilities of the course were much better prepared than usually. (Student feedback)

I had constantly tried to use the latest teaching technologies having been one of the pioneers in using new presentation technologies and learning environments. In my lecture series, I have blended different teaching methods, technologies and environments constructing digital lean ing environments in the Moodle to supports the classroom teaching.

I have also experiment with different self- and peer-evaluation practices as pedagogical tools, even I am really convinced that in the last instance the evaluation had to be in the responsibility of the teacher to guarantee the rights of students.

I have always produced my own learning material based on my own research and never simply lectured or taught on given textbooks or on material produced by someone else. This has been the case both in my lecture courses as in my methodological seminars. The material has been shared with the students in different forms, mainly as slide material and as a textual and visual material, which they had been able to receive straight from the digital environments. I have also constructed special web courses including recordings, visual and textual materials. All my lecture courses had been supported by digital environments and lectures had been distributed for students in the form of very extensive presentation handouts.