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Ville Kivimäki finds working together an essential element in development

In good teaching, you believe in the students’ own abilities and give students space.

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Ville Kivimäki and I work as a project manager at the School of Engineering. I am involved in many areas in the development of teaching, such as in the project Bachelor’s degree in three years. As you can tell from the name of the project, it is aimed at better student engagement and better accumulation of credits. The project will primarily try to achieve this by developing academic guidance and improving students’ study capacity.

What does good teaching entail in your opinion?

In my opinion, in good teaching, you believe in the students’ own abilities and give students space. Good teaching feeds students’ enthusiasm and allows it to live and grow.

How have you developed the teaching at Aalto?

The starting point in the development is to get other people to work together better. In the Bachelor’s degree in three years project, we have been developing academic guidance. Every first-year student has an academic advisor who will support the student through the Bachelor’s studies. The project has been successful, and our collaboration with the academic personnel has contributed to that. Personal Development Project Plan, or the PDPP course, is another example of teaching that I have developed. On this course, students try to find a broader goal for their studies; what it is that they want to achieve with their degree. When the goal is clear, the journey towards it will be smoother. On this course, students will also learn working life skills and practical study skills through their own activities.

The strategic objective of Aalto University is to educate game changers of the future whose field-specific competence combines art and creativity, a multidisciplinary approach, and entrepreneurship. How is this objective visible in your work? What kinds of skills do you think will be important in the working life of the future?

For example, art and creativity have a prominent role on the PDPP course, on which students practise project management by analysing films. We turn our new students into game changers of Aalto University's future even before they start their studies by giving them a link to a summer assignment in the letter we send to new students. In this assignment, they are required to think about both working life skills in future and their study motivation and study skills. What I think will be important in future working life is the ability to work with representatives of other fields. You must be able to adopt new tools fast. It is also important to be able to see in which direction the world is moving and to see what your own role in that development is.

Where do you get strength and inspiration for your work as a teacher/development of teaching? Describe particular moments or things.

The Aalto community, my colleagues and the students give me strength and inspire me. It is inspiring to learn to know the new students and, for example, hear about students’ aspirations to participate in finding solutions to the big challenges we have in the world, such as the water crisis and sustainable use of natural resources. Seeing students discover something and the moments when they learn give me strength. And also, hearing years later how someone has really managed to make one of your own ideas work

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