NEW HIGH TECNOLOGY! Kalle Heiska science journalist
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05.04.2005

Tampere teachers in the forefront of technology teaching
New teaching methods make students keen to learn – and qualify quickly

Tampere Polytechnic (TAMK) and Tampere University of Technology (TUT) have joined forces to develop new teaching methods that promote learning. These methods will make the studies of those taking bachelor's and master's degrees in engineering more effective. The new teaching methods will help to reduce dropouts from studies and ensure that employers get more competent workers. Financially the new methods are a win-win solution, benefiting students, institutions and society.

Samuli Kolari (left), Principal Lecturer Tampere Polytechnic and Tuomo Tiainen, Vice Rector of Tampere University of Technology are reforming the most advanced teaching in the field of engineering.
High resolution image (847 Kb)
Photo: Kalle Heiska

Tampere Polytechnic is leading a three-year research and development project aiming at profound interaction between lecturer and student in the teaching of advanced technology. This is expected to bring innovation and a new realisation into the learning process. TAMK and TUT are exploring and applying the latest scientific developments in education to the creation of learning situations that are inspiring and instructive. Lecturers in mechanical, materials and electrical engineering and information technology are being selected to develop and study the new methods among their students. The project researchers support the lecturers in the design of novel training situations, practical implementation and in the evaluation of the efficacy of the methods.

The research project exploits the most recent scientific conceptions of learning and of how people process information. Teaching methods are constructed based on these so as to be appropriate in the teaching of technology. In the experience of the project researchers with even minute adjustments to the basic situation in the teaching of technology – lectures, laboratory sessions, excursions and practical training in industry – it is possible to better meet the students' versatile learning styles. Using new methods the lecturer can set up small groups in such a way that those with a reflective approach and those with a functional orientation can reciprocally support one another. When a group is working well the students come to know their own strengths and to seek, create, analyse and apply new knowledge in the long term.

Teaching in technical fields is challenging because the numerous basic phenomena in technology need to be described by concepts. The most advanced teaching in technology operates in an abstract world of concepts, in which quantities describing phenomena and correlation between quantities demand a learning process based on realisation in order to achieve a profound comprehension. What is crucial in teaching is to illustrate these phenomena. Good and inspiring learning, like the top research of institutions of higher education, comes from doing things together. Ensuring that students are well motivated and have good learning outcomes is also positively reflected in the lecturers' job satisfaction.

Finnish industry will remain internationally competitive if it can be sure of a supply of labour from the institutions of higher education which has a sound understanding of the principles of technology, the ability for innovation and the capability for practical application. Attracting more women to study technology is a challenge. Nowadays those embarking on studies in technology for bachelor's and master's degrees generally do so after completing academic secondary education and before having hands-on experience of technology. The new teaching and learning methods – experiential learning and a good ability to apply knowledge acquired will ensure that industry gets the innovative competence it needs.

The development project of TAMK and TUT is funded by the Technology Industries of Finland Centennial Foundation and TAMK. The development work is being done at TAMK and at TUT, and through UNESCO the project researchers have connections to international developers in technical education in various parts of the world.

More information:

Tampere Polytechnic
Samuli Kolari, Project Manager
Tel. +358 50 524 6520
samuli.kolari@tamk.fi
Tampere University of Tech.
Tuomo Tiainen
, Vice Rector
Tel. +358 40 849 0043
tuomo.tiainen@tut.fi
Tampere Polytechnic
Perttu Heino, Research Director
Tel.. +358 3 264 7613
perttu.heino@tamk.fi

Feel free to use all news. Photographs copyright Kalle Heiska.
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