Excellence in teaching includes continuous self-development of teaching and supervision competence, teaching and supervision practices that enhance the students’ learning and learning outcomes, ability to use and develop learning materials, and participation in the collaborative development of teaching.

Continuous self-development of teaching and supervision competence

Excellence is manifested, for example, through systematic self-evaluation and development of one’s teaching and supervision practices as well as professional skills.

Excellent teachers

  • systematically collect feedback on teaching and supervision from students and colleagues and respond to student feedback. They draw from their self-evaluation and the feedback they have collected in the development of teaching and supervision in a systematic manner.
  • deepen their understanding of the effects of various teaching methods on learning processes. They systematically develop teaching and supervision on the basis of pedagogical training, existing research information and their own pedagogical research.

Such teachers share good practices as well as their knowledge of teaching, learning and supervision among colleagues and the academic community both orally and in writing (through discussions, participating in national and international conferences, publishing articles and scholarly papers on pedagogy, etc.).

Quality and development of teaching

Teaching and supervision practices enhance the students’ learning and learning outcomes:

Excellent teachers’ teaching and supervision practices systematically support the learning process and outcomes in students in a versatile manner.

The teacher plans and implements teaching so that the outcomes, content, teaching and learning methods, teaching aids and materials as well as assessment are constructively aligned.

The teacher

  • engages students in the planning and implementation of teaching, and discusses the pedagogical solutions with them.
  • documents the learning outcomes of his or her teaching and discusses them with students at the beginning of and during courses.
  • encourages students to independently search for information, analyse and apply it in novel ways, as well as generate information collaboratively, for example in the form of co-authored publications.
  • incorporates research information and pedagogical innovations from his or her field into teaching and supervision, and follows relevant national and international developments together with students and supervisees.
  • exploits goal-oriented, versatile and pedagogically justified practices in the assessment of learning and learning outcomes as an integral part of the teaching and learning process.
  • understands students’ learning-related needs and challenges, as well as supports and respects their individual development.
  • takes into account the diverse and international nature of students and makes use of this in an appropriate manner.

Teaching and supervision practices include systematically providing students with versatile and constructive feedback on their learning and learning outcomes.

Ability to use and develop learning materials

Excellence is manifested, for example, in the development of up-to-date, research-based learning material. The teacher also utilises material produced and distributed by others and develops it further together with colleagues and students.

The learning material aligns systematically and constructively with the outcomes, contents and methods of teaching as well as with assessment.

The material may take many forms, such as publications, videos or other digital materials or applications.

Learning materials are easily accessible to students and openly available online or otherwise.

The use of learning materials and digital learning environments fosters learning as well as the development of scholarly thinking and argumentation skills.

The teacher presents and distributes learning materials to colleagues and the academic community. The material is widely known in the field and used also internationally.

Participation in the collaborative development of teaching

Excellence is demonstrated through the teacher’s visible role in the teaching and research environment.

The teacher systematically promotes collegiality in the unit and/or degree programme as well as collaboration and interaction between teachers, researchers and students.

The teacher puts sustained and active effort into planning teaching in cooperation with colleagues, students and representatives of alumni and the labour market.

The teacher contributes actively to the development of teaching in the steering group of the degree programme or another key organ dedicated to the development of teaching at the unit, faculty and/or the University level.

The teacher’s input has a genuine effect on the development of teaching.

The teacher engages in multidisciplinary cooperation with various units and/or degree programmes to develop teaching, and establishes national and international networks.

The teacher develops research-based teaching in a target-oriented manner and in collaboration with national and international partners.

Hence, with all of the above, teaching can be turned into an efficient system.

(This is a slightly modified version of an article originally published in The University of Helsinki. The original article can be found at https://www.helsinki.fi/en/admissions-and-education/education/teachers-academy/how-excellent-teaching-defined)