University Lecturer Christa Uusi-Rauva took up her post as lecturer in English business communication at the School of Business in 2006. At present, her working hours are distributed evenly between communication courses and educational development. In addition to teaching teachers, Christa Uusi-Rauva also teaches students. Her course on presentation skills is compulsory for all Bachelor’s degree students and optional for Master’s degree students.
Along the years, teaching presentation skills has become a passion for Uusi-Rauva.
‘First, you must find the ability to be inspired yourself, so that you can then teach others to get inspired and excited in a way that supports the teaching work. You must have clear goals and take measurable actions accordingly. I hope that the students who graduate from Aalto University will become people who inspire others in the industrial world, both now and in the future.’
According to Uusi-Rauva, the truly rewarding aspect of teaching is to see the development in a learner and to witness how at the end of the course a student accomplishes something for the very first time. It also warms the teacher’s heart to see students engage in successful group work.
‘I find it interesting that group dynamics can depend on even the most inconspicuous things. Sometimes some of my teaching methods work for four groups out of five, and I simply cannot fathom why they do not work for the fifth. This is what makes group situations fascinating. I appreciate activity in student groups, but the activeness of groups and individuals should not be taken for granted. Sometimes I feel that no matter what I do in class, I simply cannot activate the students. I may even ask if something is wrong, but if I still do not get an answer, the only choice is to try and make small adjustments and get the listeners to respond.’
Christa Uusi-Rauva’s goal is to enable the students to be present when they are giving a presentation.
‘Sometimes a student may be very nervous of performing when the course starts, only to make massive progress during the course. Of course, some master the art of performing right from the start, which is also great. However, I find seeing the progress in students particularly rewarding, and those students gain more from the course, as well. When giving a presentation, one should take charge of the situation right away and get to the point. The first moments are crucial, and afterwards the speaker can even loosen up a little. I encourage anyone delivering a presentation to be brave and give it their all. Courageous attempts are usually rewarded,’ Christa Uusi-Rauva explains.
Traditional teaching methods are also needed
Christa Uusi-Rauva appreciates the many good things brought to teaching by digitalisation, and she feels that as the student numbers increase, Aalto has no choice but to increase the use of ‘blended learning´.
‘However, I myself enjoy meeting students face to face, and I want to hold on to that practice. It is my experience that joint learning in a classroom maintains good energy levels, and I am also a firm believer in the additional value of encounters. Of course, my educational themes, namely communication and presentation skills, are natural subjects for face-to-face teaching.’
‘I usually move all the tables in a classroom close to the walls before the class starts. Indeed, it is my hope that we would have as many of this kind of easily adjustable spaces as possible, where the tables and chairs could be moved around freely and easily. It would also challenge the teachers to think about different ways of utilising the teaching facilities in their work,’ says Christa Uusi-Rauva.
Christa Uusi-Rauva was interviewed by Terhi Ollikainen.