Teaching community and pedagogical reflection, support and training are vital for teachers' wellbeing

Results of HowUTeach, teachers' wellbeing questionnaire and self-reflection tool highlight sense of belonging, sharing and possibility to develop pedagogical competences as vital aspects for teacher wellbeing
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Photo: Suvi Helko/Aalto University

HowUTeach is a questionnaire and a research based self-assessment tool created primarily for higher education teachers. It has a background in previous, widely used quantitative instruments, and it has been further developed by two qualitative examinations. The instrument’s factor structure was explored and identified in the university context. 

Factors include: 

  1. Approaches to teaching
  2. Experiences on work environment
  3. Teaching related wellbeing
  4. Integration of teaching and research.

Both an individual and major/programme/school will benefit from the process. An individual feedback is send to all participants with tips to develop their skills and pedagogical thinking.  On the school or programme level data helps, for instance, to develop better pedagogical support both on individual and programme level and get an overall picture about teachers’ wellbeing.

Aalto piloted the process first in four majors or programmes from different levels and fields of education during academic year 2022-2023. Then during the autumn term 2023 all teaching staff of one of the six schools were given a chance to participate. 

Need for pedagogical support and community feeling

The results clearly show that teachers with organized approach to teaching have better self-efficacy beliefs and less burn out symptoms. That is, the more teacher's had reflected their pedagogical choises and could justify them the more confident they felt and it impacted positively on their wellbeing. The more participants reported adopting the unreflective approach to teaching, the lower perceived community support, self-efficacy beliefs, and self-compassion they experienced. Unreflective approach to teaching also correlated positively with self-criticism, stress, and burnout symptoms. This indicates that pedagogical support, and pedagogical reflection can support pedagogical reflection and through that teachers wellbeing. 

Community was positively associated with participants’ wellbeing. Perceived support from one’s work community was positively related to self-efficacy beliefs and negatively related to self-criticism and burnout symptoms.

Teachers listed several actions or practices (in your programme, school or university) supporting their teaching-related well being. Pedagogical events, encouragement to develop ones teaching and possibility to participate to pedagogical treining at Aalto supported ones skills in teaching and wellbeing. On school or programme/major level possibility to participate in organized events and to hear others examples and to ask for help supported wellbeing. 

Teachers wished for more possibilities to participate in common planning of curricula and more transparent and even distribution of teaching loads. Communication culture should also be improved to ensure the participation of all and to improve the sense of belonging.

Tiina Pylkkönen

Community developer
Wellbeing in Teaching

Wellbeing in Teaching

Pedagogical wellbeing entails both teacher and student perspectives. These pages serve as a teachers' reference and study package for improving wellbeing in teaching and studies at Aalto.

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HowUTeach self-assessment tool for teachers is piloted at Aalto

HowUTeach is a research based self-assessment tool created primarily for teachers. The purpose of HowUTeach is to increase teachers’ awareness of their teaching and thereby enhance individual self-reflection relating to work and wellbeing. HowUTeach is being piloted at Aalto during the academic year 2022-23.

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