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Work-based learning


Maiju Kokkonen

Haaga-Helia ammattikorkeakoulu

Crister Nyberg

Haaga-Helia ammattikorkeakoulu

Katja Wirenius

lehtori, pedagogiikka
Haaga-Helia ammattikorkeakoulu

Katja Danska

lehtori, pedagogiikka
Haaga-Helia ammattikorkeakoulu

Published : 24.03.2023

In this podcast we discuss about how to combine work and study. We will give some practical examples and what work-based learning requires from teaching and what are the benefits for the student.

Podcast is produced and used as part of KESTO project and Ulysseus European University mentoring programme

Podcast in text form

Interviewer 1 [00:00:03]: Welcome to listen to the Higher Education Pedagogy podcast which is produced by Kesto project and its network partners, like Haaga-Helia and the European University Ulysseus. The Kesto project’s network researches and develops ethical sustainability expertise in cooperation with working life partners and university students and teachers. The aim of the network is to strengthen the ethical sustainability expertise among universities and working life in long-term cooperation. Research and development aims are to advance pedagogical and responsible business solutions, and ethically sustainable operations. My name is Maiju Kokkonen, and I am working in Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences as a Senior Lecturer in the competence area of sports. This podcast is all about combining university studies to learning in work life. Basically, we are talking how students can apply theory that they have learned in the classroom in real work-life processes. I’m here with my colleague, Haaga-Helia’s Principal Lecturer, Kirsi Hämäläinen, and Haaga-Helia’s student Nicolas Struhar.

Speaker 1 [00:01:33]: Hello! My name is Nicolas Struhar. I am a student of Sports Coaching and Management degree programme at Vierumäki campus at Haaga-Helia. Currently, I am in my work-placement year, working as a trainee lecturer in Vierumäki campus at Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences.

Speaker 2 [00:01:55]: Hello! I’m Kirsi Hämäläinen. I am a Principal Lecturer of Sports Coaching here at Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences.

Interviewer 1 [00:02:04]: Okay, good. Nice to have you here to talk about work placement. So, Nicolas, can you tell some practical examples of how studies and work life are combined in your studies?

Speaker 1 [00:02:17]: Sure. As a student, from a student’s perspective, first two years, which are present years, present studies, students are allowed to choose or look for working opportunities in the field that they study, especially in the second year of the studies, where they need to apply different content from the studies to the working life. So, to put it simply, it is needed in order to enhance the learning and in order to enhance the understanding of what we learn. Practical acquisition is needed. And so, from a student’s perspective, I can tell only for the sports, and exactly for the ice hockey, that we had the opportunity to coach in a local club there. I’ve been coaching as a head coach of under-14 team, and then an assistant coach of under-20s. Yet, at the moment, I am hired by Haaga-Helia, which is actually my university, from the student’s perspective, and my employer, from the work placement perspective. To summarise it, it was a journey. It is a highly valuable opportunity for the students to contribute to their learning programme where they have been studying. So, I value it highly.

Interviewer 1 [00:04:18]: Sounds good. And the meaningfulness of this kind of work placement is really crucial and helpful for the students. As a teacher, I think, also, that it’s nice to hear that students really pursue those kinds of opportunities. I can also give one example of what I have been working on with students. We have that competence-based course ongoing during the studies, and we actually arrange the coach developer seminar annually with the Sports Institute of Finland. There, the students’ role is to organise this seminar, plan some workshops there, and facilitate those. So, they are trying to apply all these facilitation skills as coach developers, where they might work in the future. Who benefits from that are those sports organisations and our associations because their coach developers come there to learn how to do coach developers’ work. So, that’s one example of combining some kind of projects in the university studies, also. There are many ways of combining studies and work life together. Kirsi, from your and your university’s point of view, how can we make best out of these opportunities?

Speaker 2 [00:06:01]: I think the better we provide the students with learning-to-learn skills, the metacognitive skills, the more they can make out of their work placements. Of course, there are different objectives in different work placements projects. I see that there is a lot of potential in our students, and I just hope that we don’t limit their potential or their opportunities with too easy projects and easy programmes, because they can actually be meaningful for the work life, even though they are just at the students’ place, if you can say ‘just’.

Interviewer 1 [00:06:49]: Okay, good. Thanks! And how about Nicolas? What have you learned from this work placement assignment? What kind of skills?

Speaker 1 [00:07:00]: I have to agree: it depends on the goal and what the aim of the work placement is. In my case, it is basically innovation and support of learning in the programme. So, what I do is I try to always not copy the things and, if possible, not teach someone something that was written two, three, four years ago and copy the presentations, but I’m always trying to develop, bring new ideas, try new teaching methods. And so, hand-in-hand with innovation, I’m developing different skills, reflection skills, always reflecting after the session. Did it work? Didn’t it work? Was the learning efficient? Wasn’t the learning efficient? Different self-directed skills, for example. What I want to bring to the classroom as a teacher is something from me, not only copying someone who is teaching that way and that way. So, bringing the teacher’s perspective on how to approach the learning. Many different skills. Learning skills – definitely. Time management. Of course, metaskills as well, as Kirsi mentioned before.

Interviewer 1 [00:08:39]: Great learnings from that! So, Kirsi, what are the things… As a teacher, when you are working with these organisations and companies where the students go, what do we need to keep in mind in the cooperation?

Speaker 2 [00:08:56]: I think teachers’ role is kind of… Can I use the word knowledge brokerage? The companies or work placements, they don’t always recognise the possibilities they can bring students in. And maybe the students don’t recognise those, also. So, teachers’ role is to be in between. It’s critical to have networks, and it’s critical to have good knowledge about work life: what’s going on, what the problems are, what needs to be developed, who is working there – that’s critical. So, the teachers’ role is in between and actually helps both sides to recognise the possibilities for the cooperation.

Interviewer 1 [00:09:51]: For me, it sounds that, as a teacher, you need to be brave enough to jump out of the teacher role more to the guiding role and the researcher’s role to search all the things around work life, what you can use, inside the teaching also. So, we need to be brave and open-minded for that.

Speaker 2 [00:10:22]: Yes. And it keeps you fresh.

Interviewer 1 [00:10:24]: Yes, that’s true. I hope that it shows also to the students, that we have lots of new ideas and thoughts when we work closely with the work life and with the students, also. So, thank you for listening to this podcast! I hope that you got some ideas out of what kind of things work-based learning can be.