Evaluating the pedagogical quality of international summer courses in a university program

Author/s:

Lakkala, Minna*
University of Helsinki, Finland (minna.lakkala@helsinki.fi)

Ilomäki, Liisa
University of Helsinki, Finland (liisa.ilomaki@helsinki.fi)

Mikkonen, Pauliina
University of Helsinki, Finland (pauliina.mikkonen@helsinki.fi)

Muukkonen, Hanni
University of Oulu, Finland (hanni.muukkonen@oulu.fi)

Toom, Auli
University of Helsinki, Finland (auli.toom@helsinki.fi)

Abstract:

The study evaluated the pedagogical quality of 16 university courses in a three-week international summer program. Short-term study-abroad programs have gained increasing popularity, but their pedagogical approaches have not been investigated widely before. Lesson observations, teacher interviews, and course materials were used to investigate the pedagogical approach of the courses. Answers to an online feedback form were used to examine students’ study experiences. The courses were categorized into the following three pedagogical types: Self-directed academic studying, Practices of active learning, and Practices of shared expertise. Based on the survey data, the students valued the second and third types of courses more than the first type. Factors that students mentioned as positive in their open-ended responses were related to high-quality teaching arrangements, expert knowledge and practices, intercultural social interaction, and interesting and useful course content. Innovative pedagogy in international courses would include taking the multicultural assembly of participants into account to support multifaceted knowledge sharing and the development of cultural expertise in the target domain. The results can be used to create criteria and guidelines for subsequent courses, to develop feedback instruments, and in teacher training.

Keywords: short-term study abroad; pedagogical practices; university teaching; multicultural education; mixed-method research

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5861/ijrse.2017.1781

*Corresponding Author