Creating teacher's competences

The aim vocational teacher education studies is to  

  • provide students with the skills and knowledge to guide learning for different kinds of students and  
  • develop their own eld of teaching, taking developments in occupations and working life into account. 

(Statute 1129/2014 § 6) 

The curriculum of the Teacher Education College of the JAMK University of Applied Sciences is competence-based. The key competence areas are  

  • facilitating learning and  
  • creating future. 

 The role of vocational teacher education is to develop and assess the relevant skills in these competence areas.  

Another purpose of the teacher education is to support the students to develop their role and identity as a vocational teacher. Thus, the third component in teacher education is: 

  • developing the teacher identity.

Figure 1: Teacher competences

The competence area of facilitating learning comprises the following three competences that are developed and assessed through various learning tasks:

  • facilitating learning skills, which refer to teachers’ awareness of the theoretical and philosophical starting points pertaining to learning as well as the ability to plan, implement and assess meaningful learning processes, taking the diversity of students into account,
  • learning environment skills, which refers to the ability of teachers to develop and renew a variety of safe and accessible learning environments suitable for vocational learning in cooperation with other relevant parties, as well as the ability to work in these learning environments while promoting learning. It also means the ability of teachers to utilise different digital resources in a manner that supports learning, and
  • interaction skills, which means the ability of the teacher to act in different interactive relationships and partner networks in a in meaningful and ethically sound manner with regard to the goals set for learning.

The competence area of creating future comprises:

  • future orientation, which refers to the ability and desire of teachers to be involved in making the future of vocational learning, working life and society based on an understanding of the relationships between them. It also means the investigative and critical approach of teachers to existing practices and structures as well as the courage to think and carry out things in a new way to develop social equality, democracy and human rights, and
  • developmental skills, which refer to teacher's ability to develop their own activities, as well as those of their community, together with others, in the manner required by foreseeable changes. It also refers to the ability and desire to develop vocational learning, working life and entrepreneurship at the regional, national and international levels by actively working in partner networks that are relevant in each case.

The competence area of developing the teacher identity is comprised of

  • reflection skills , which means the teacher's ability to recognise and critically assess their basic notions, values and attitudes related to their role as a teacher as well as their own thought patterns and work methods. It also refers to the ability to assess the ethical principles behind the teachers’ own actions and thinking, and
  • agency skills, which refer to the proactive approach of teachers to building their own vocational development path as well as their ability to set goals for their own vocational development. It refers to the ability of teachers to make different decisions related to their work, based on knowledge of vocational pedagogy. It also includes the ability to participate in building communal knowledge and the ability to act in a variety of partner networks to develop the teachers’ own actions and those of their work community.
 

Backgrounds of the pedagogical solutions used in vocational teacher education

The pedagogical activities of the Teacher Education College are based on three elements: using meaningful learning tasks as a basis for learning; building learning partnerships in learning and creating new knowledge; and utilising digital opportunities to support the first two elements.  

The first two elements form the methodological core of learning and guidance. Various digital tools and resources serve these two basic elements of meaningful  learning. Digital technology provides an opportunity for interaction that is independent of time and place in learning and cooperative creation of new knowledge. A digital environment also provides an opportunity for more extensive, diverse and modern information seeking. 

 

Learning tasks

The use of meaningful learning tasks as the key, but not the only, source of learning is based on the principles of constructivism. The main thing is that learners themselves have the opportunity to direct the way that questions are worded in a manner that meets their own learning needs. These types of tasks make it possible to actively adapt and build knowledge. This gives learners the opportunity to be active in forming their own knowledge structures with the support of guidance and feedback related to the learning tasks. Through learning tasks, learners make their own interpretations of the newly created information and build new knowledge based on their previous knowledge and experiences. The notion of knowledge is therefore dynamic in nature.  

The purpose of learning tasks is to create new knowledge and understanding of the matters and phenomena being studied by integrating new ideas, information and concepts into learners’ existing knowledge structures. Meaningful and challenging learning tasks create the type of knowledge that is new to the learner and, by itself, produces new knowledge structures. In learning tasks, new knowledge is not only produced but also used in real contexts when possible. The principle of authenticity, i.e. the relevance of the tasks to actual situations in working life, is key from the perspective of the quality of learning tasks.  

Learning tasks develop learners’ proactive approach to their own learning, thereby enabling them to take charge of their own learning. This is one of the essential capabilities from the perspective of lifelong learning. 

 

Learning partnerships  

The interaction between people is an important factor that boosts learning. Social interaction plays a key role in forming individual learning and shared understanding as well as the production of new knowledge between individuals. 

Learning partnerships are based on an interactive notion of the relationship between an individual and their environment. Interactive relationships therefore play a key role in learning experiences. They are formed by the relationships between students, the relationships between teachers and students as well as other social networks that have common learning goals. These partnerships form a key basis in pedagogical activities. 

The partnership between teachers and students is built on the principles of equality, transparency, mutual responsibility and mutual learning. Building trust is a shared task. 

The active creation of learning partnerships as part of the learning process produces capabilities that enable the development of cooperative problem-solving skills.  

In line with the humanistic image of humans, this curriculum understands that humans have the potential for growth, development and self-realisation. However, the relationship structures that affect the self are complex. Building and maintaining the current state of the self, identity and knowledge are key aims in all education. 

 

Utilisation of digital opportunities  

The significance of education as a source of learning has decreased with the use of new technology. New technology is constantly changing our work, organisations, society and lives. New technologies enable new possibilities for communication between people that is independent of time and place. It also makes it possible to find, create and use information in a whole new way. It creates an entirely new operating environment for humans.  

From the perspective of the competence of students, the scope and depth of learning are important dimensions. It is essential that students are assisted in finding, learning and creating new information by using digital tools and resources. It is now possible to get access to digital tools and resources practically everywhere, which makes it possible to create connections independent of time and place for creating and sharing ideas. Digital tools make it possible to provide continuous feedback and thereby support making learning and creating new information visible to all relevant parties.  

Digital tools and resources not only serve the cooperative building and sharing of new information but also the seeking of the information required for it. The advancement of digitalisation is already transforming working life and society in such a way that all citizens are required to adopt new ways of thinking and have the ability to use digital tools. They are becoming the primary way of doing things, whether in the role of an employee or citizen. 

 

Pedagogical principles of vocational teacher education

The following pedagogical principles of vocational teacher education are drawn from the overview above:  

  • the key starting points for learning are meaningful learning tasks, instructional and consultative interventions that support them as well as assessment methods and feedback which promote learning. 
  • learning occurs in various partnership networks which enable the cooperative creation of new knowledge, multifaceted peer learning as well as receiving and giving feedback. 
  • digital opportunities are utilised in learning, creating new knowledge, the related cooperative and interactive relationships as well as information seeking that serves them.