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Journal of University Pedagogy publishes review articles and writings focusing on teaching and learning in higher education. The journal contains topical information on academic development as well as accounts and reports of university pedagogical experiments and development projects.

Journal of University Pedagogy is issued twice a year online. The journal is published by Peda-forum, the Finnish network of expertise in university pedagogy and academic development.

Articles and writings are published in Finnish, in Swedish, and in English. In order to submit an article in English you should follow e.g. the instructions for authors of Studies in Higher Education. All review articles include abstract and key words in English in addition to the article heading.


Anne Nevgi, anne.nevgi(at)


Tiina Jakobsson, tiina.jakobsson(at)

Editorial board

Chair: Mari Murtonen, marimur(at)

Johanna Annala, johanna.annala(at)

Eetu-Pekka Heikkinen, eetu.heikkinen(at)

Juha Himanka, juha.himanka(at)

Laura Hirsto, laura.hirsto(at), laura.hirsto(at)

Vesa Korhonen, vesa.a.korhonen(at)

Outi Kortekangas-Savolainen, outi.kortekangas-savolainen(at)

Kirsi Pyhältö, kirsi.pyhalto(at), kirsi.pyhalto(at)

Markku Saarelainen, markku.saarelainen(at)

Terhi Skaniakos, terhi.skaniakos(at)

Auli Toom, auli.toom(at)

Ritva Tuunila, ritva.tuunila(at)


Articles in English

Journal of University Pedagogy

Vol. 21 • No. 2

How to teach the doctor? Ten laws to teach medicine (PDF)

English abstracts

Journal of University Pedagogy

Vol. 23 • No. 1

Johanna Vaattovaara

Language teachers’ views of language and their approaches to language teaching challenged by internationalization

This article addresses language teachers’ views of language and their approaches to language teaching. These are discussed with a focus on the internalization as one of the phenomena motivating language teaching development. The study is based on data consisting of authentic texts (N = 27) produced by language centre teachers during their university pedagogy training. The study carried out 1) a theory-driven qualitative content analysis to assess whether the teachers hold monological or dialogical language views and 2) a data-driven content analysis to inspect the range of approaches to teaching. In addition, implications to internationalization were systematically investigated. The source of motivation for this research stems from the need to analyse and discuss the current practices and language ideological views from the point of view of the ’communicativeness’ in language teaching. Another source is the pressure created by the process of internationalization to critically evaluate the goals and practices of language teaching as part of a higher education degree, and the language ideological thinking behind these issues. The practical aims and contents of language teaching are partly formed by how language is understood as a medium of communication. The results indicate that the teachers’ views differ, but these views are, in the present data, often hidden. The most recognizable view is monological, which is slightly more common than the dialogical view of language. However, in half of the cases, the teacher’s view of language was not at all transparent. When it comes to approaches to teaching, four distinct categories emerge from the data. Because the overall analysis reveals that the view of language and approach to teaching are at least potentially interconnected in individual language teacher’s teaching philosophy, the study suggests further research on the topic.

Keywords: language view, approaches to teaching, internationalization, language teaching, communicative language teaching, university pedagogy, monologism, dialogism

Journal of University Pedagogy

Vol. 22 • No. 2

Matti Meriläinen

The relation between university teachers’ pedagogical training and thinking about teaching

The aim of the present study was to reveal what is thinking about teaching like among members of The Union for University Teachers and Researchers in Finland (YLL) and what is the relation between their pedagogical training and ways of thinking about teaching. In December 2010, YLL conducted a survey on conditions of employment, pedagogical training and attitudes concerning teaching and learning among the members of YLL. An e-questionnaire was sent to each member (approximately 1600), resulting in 805 responses out of which 664 were acceptable (42 % of all members). A total of 392 respondents were women (59 %). With the help of factor analysis (CFA), a model of university teachers’ thinking about teaching was confirmed. The revealed model consisting of three latent factors represents the way teachers think about teaching: 1) teaching is transmitting information, 2) teaching is pedagogical know-how and 3) teaching is supporting students’ learning. A group comparison showed that pedagogical qualification and participating in pedagogical in-service training support thinking about teaching that focuses less on transmitting information. Conversely, the comparison showed no differences in teachers’ thinking about teaching as pedagogical know-how or supporting students’ learning. The model of university teachers’ thinking about teaching revealed a remarkably strong correlation between the factors of transmitting information and pedagogical know-how. A similar correlation between the factors of pedagogical know-how and supporting students’ learning was not evident. As a recommendation, based on the present results, in pedagogical training development of university teachers’ conceptions and attitudes concerning teaching and learning should be emphasized. Only along with conceptual and attitudinal development will teachers’ thinking about teaching develop towards supporting students’ learning and this will be seen in the daily teaching practices as student-centered teaching and learning.

Keywords: university teacher, university lecturer, thinking about teaching, approach to teaching, pedagogical training, university pedagogical training

Journal of University Pedagogy

Vol. 22 • No. 1

Viivi Virtanen, Liisa Postareff & Telle Hailikari

How to reform assessment practices for lifelong learning?

In the current paper, we draw attention to the assessment practices employed in higher education. Assessment practices are reportedly in need of change in order to equip students with skills that will enable learning throughout life. Lifelong learning is enhanced by assessment practices that increase student involvement in the assessment and, in this regard, self- and peer-assessment are viewed as potentially valuable approaches. In both of these activities, students are engaging with assessment criteria and standards. Thus, the use of self- and peer-assessment enhances the development of lifelong learning skills by requiring students to make sophisticated judgments about their own or their peers’ learning. Recognition of the importance of the different purposes of assessment is also stressed in this paper by the recommendation that summative assessment (assessment of learning) should be complemented by formative and diagnostic assessment (assessment for learning). Achieving change in assessment practices is difficult. Development of sustainable assessment thinking and practice presumes the existence of change processes in the institutional culture of assessment. In this paper, we also discuss the challenges of particular concern in assessment change.
Keywords: culture of assessment, formative assessment, lifelong learning, peer assessment, self-assessment, sustainable assessment

Marjo Suhonen, Pirjo Kaakinen, Raimo Kaasila & Vesa-Matti Sarenius

Collaborative learning in the context of group supervision during master’s thesis process

Collaborative learning is one of the most important skills in working life. Group work during studies permits collaborative knowledge structuration and promotes growing as an expert. In the context of group work, collaborative learning means the process of knowledge structuration that is related to cognitive mechanisms that promote learning in co-operation with group members. In this research, we study a thesis process which is carried out through group supervision. The participants in the study were students (n=8), who were divided into two groups preparing their master’s theses in health management science. The data were collected five times from both groups with repeated open questions (n=29), and analysed using qualitative content analysis. Collaborative learning in the guidance of these master’s theses was manifest in the structure of working methods that promoted learning and peer support. Collaborative learning was promoted by the construction of knowledge and reflection during group work. In terms of supervision, guidance of discussion and support were emphasized from the viewpoint of learning.
Keywords: collaborative learning, group work, master’s thesis

Vol. 21 • No. 2

Eeva Pyörälä

Change of paradigm and activating learning strategies in medical education

This article presents and compares four student and learning centered educational strategies used in medical education. In  problem-based  learning,  case-based  learning,  team-based  learning  and  the  flipped  classroom,  students’  prior  know- ledge  is  activated  in  order  to  construct  new  understanding.  Today,  digital  learning  materials  and  applications  are  often used as triggers to stimulate learning in the new student generations. All the learning strategies presented are based on collaborative learning, and thereby they support the future medical doctors’ working life skills. Problem-based learning is organised in small groups, whereas case-based learning, team-based learning and the flipped classroom have adapted the active learning strategies of small-group learning into large-group classroom settings. The role of a teacher in all these learning strategies is not to transmit knowledge from the teacher to the learner but to facilitate student learning, interaction between and collaborative learning among students.
Keywords: medical education, activating learning strategies, PBL, CBL, TBL, flipped classroom, digital learning materials and applications

Mirjamaija Mikkilä-Erdmann, Ilona Södervik, Henna Vilppu, Erika Österholm-Matikainen & Pekka Kääpä

Medical expertise of internal medicine residents in processing of patient cases

In  the  current  study,  we  first  investigated  differences  between  medical  freshmen  and  residents  in  actual  processing  of written patient cases.  In internal medicine residents have to cope with huge amount of knowledge and ill-defined problems under time pressure. Participants in this study were 13 residents in an internal medicine program in Finland and 33 medical  third  year  students.  First,  participants  interpreted  one  written  patient  case  while  their  eye  movements  were recorded. Our results revealed that residents are excellent in conducting diagnoses compared to novices and their reading times are significantly faster and they process patient cases in a different way.
Keywords: medical expertise, internal medicine, eye tracking

Vol. 21 • No. 1

No English abstracts

Vol. 20 • No. 2

Anne Virtanen & Päivi Tynjälä

Developing pedagogy for learning of generic skills: University students’ point of view

The purpose of the study was to identify teaching practices which have proven to be promising in learning generic skills. The study was carried out by examining three study modules which students had rated highly in terms of teaching the knowledge and skills needed in working life. The data were collected from the university students (N = 163, n = 123) with an Internet questionnaire where they assessed 1) what kinds of skills and knowledge they learn during the courses, and 2) how they perceive the pedagogical features of the courses. According to the results, these promising courses seemed to offer students concrete tools and ways (i.e. domain-specific basic skills, collaboration skills, and skills for acting creatively in different situations) which they can utilize in their future workplaces. The key elements supporting the learning of the generic skills were collaboration, discussions, the integration of theory and practice, safe climate for learning, and the development of students’ critical thinking. Thus, the pedagogy that supports learning of generic skills among university students seems to possess the features and principles of the constructive learning environment and the model of integrative pedagogy.
Keywords: university studies, university pedagogy, generic skills, learning, teaching, university students

Vol. 20 • No. 1

Christina Nokkala & Mari Murtonen

A novel way to teach the concept of meiosis

Meiosis is a central biological concept which is often difficult for university students to understand. In this study, a novel way to teach the concept of meiosis was tested. An activating task fostering learning of this threshold concept was used. Students were divided to experimental and control groups. The control group attended traditional teaching, i.e. lectures with practicals. The experimental group had an additional activating task before practicals. In the activating task they had to draw the phases of meiosis and write the concepts of meiosis in the drawing. After drawing, the teacher collected the drawings and copied them and gave the copies back to the students. Then, the task with the right solutions was discussed thoroughly. After that the traditional practicals took place for both groups. After a week, both groups were given the same activating task. Students in the experimental group performed significantly better than the control group. Thus, paying attention to the central elements in meiosis by drawing them helped the students in the experimental group to understand the phenomenon of meiosis better. In the course evaluation, the students reported that the task helped them to learn better. The novel teaching arrangement also helped the teacher to focus on teaching and enhanced self-reflection.

Keywords: meiosis, threshold concept, concept learning, activating task

Vol. 19 • No. 2

Sari Timonen

The effect of pedagogigal training on teaching descriptions of university teachers

The ability to analyze one’s own teaching is one of the prerequisites of high quality teaching. Consequently, describing and analyzing teaching situations has been one of the central elements in the pedagogical education of university teachers at the University of Helsinki. Thus far, there is rather little information about the effect of pedagogical training on the teaching descriptions of university teachers. In this study, teaching descriptions of two groups of teachers with different amounts of pedagogical training were compared by applying the method of content analysis. Extensive pedagogical training appeared to increase and deepen teachers’ insights on learning objectives, meeting learning goals and perceiving pedagogical tools. Together with age, pedagogical training also increased the number of observations about the learning process. The objects and styles of the teaching descriptions of university teachers with extensive pedagogical training were much more uniform than were those of the teachers with less training.

Keywords: approaches to teaching, ATI, description of teaching, university pedagogy, university teacher

Vol. 19 • No. 1

Laura Hirsto, Merja Alanne & Niko Huttunen

Classic languages as a challenge for students of theology

This study investigates the factors affecting student drop-out from studies of Biblical Hebrew and New Testament Greek, and seeks educational solutions to reduce the drop-out rate. Students who had quit the courses were sent a questionnaire in which they were asked to give their reasons. According to the results, the main reasons could be attributed to the challenge of self-regulation. The respondents found the large amount of work, certain contextual factors and a lack of motivation the most challenging aspects. The contextual factors mentioned included engagement in working life during the course, other courses they were taking simultaneously, and the different way of studying classical languages compared to other experiences of studying at university, and to their earlier language learning. It appears from the inquiry results that there is a need to develop the pedagogy on the courses. Moreover, students should be given more support fostering self-regulation in their studying and in the learning of classical languages in higher education in general and on their particular study path.

Keywords: university students, drop-out, teaching and learning of languages, supporting self-regulation