Course implementation from teacher's view
Teacher's check list in the course
On this page we explain some details of implementing a course from the viewpoint of a teacher-in-charge or a lecturer. Teacher's situation can be different based on his/her role (e.g., teacher-in-charge, lecturer, teaching assistant) or earlier teaching experience, whether the course is regular or varying, whether the course belongs to a certain programme or major. Your school or colleagues from your department may give more specific instructions and hints. There are some references to a book "Get Inspired!" which is freely available.
The course design is a part of the curriculum design. This happens currently every two years. The collective planning starts typically in programme or departmental meetings. Programme directors or department heads invite all teachers (in charge) to discuss and plan curricula. The final product of the process is the curriculum which is approved by the school academic committee. There should not be any changes in this curriculum during the study years. In addition, the time and space scheduling takes place in spring before the study year. In this way, students are able to plan effectively their studies.
Duties of a teacher (in charge) typically include:
- Recruiting course personnel and orientation, making possible work contracts (HR Services at your department help)
- Designing teaching acts (teaching, assignments, materials, contents) and assessment of learning which are aligned to the intended learning outcomes described in the curriculum. Estimate the course workload and study time allocation. (Get Inspired!, chapter 4)
- Checking the teaching spaces and schedule both for contact teaching and possible exams. Ask for new spaces or deletions because non-usable spaces cost. Notice that the model schedules are written so that a student is able to complete all courses in the degree in the target study time
- Update the course syllabus in MyCourses at least three weeks before the course starts
- Inform the library about the possible course books. The library typically acquires a few copies of the books
Check just before the course starts:
- All teachers of the course have correct roles in WebOodi (Teacher-in-charge, Lecturer, Teaching assistant, Officer). These roles give access to MyCourses and Course feedback system
- Students are able to join to MyCourses after registration in WebOodi. Their MyCourses calendars contain all study events (lectures, exercises) from WebOodi
- You can find the list of enrolled students of the course in MyCourses or WebOodi. If needed, confirm their registration in WebOodi
- Update the materials and activities in MyCourses. Hence, students are able to form a clear picture of the course structure
- Send your first message in MyCourses (on main page, Announcement), where you tell students the time and venue of the first teaching event, and where you welcome students to the course
Prepare well for the first teaching event (Get Inspired!, chapter 5). Consider the following issues:
- Students wait for your ambition to the subject. The corner stones of building study motivation are making studying meaningful and supporting student's expectation of success (Get Inspired!, chapter 2.3)
- Students want to know practicalities in the course, such as time schedule, assessment, and communication. Justify your decisions, if needed. Information should be in MyCourses Syllabus
- Say something about previous course feedback and how it has been dealt. This motivates students to give feedback
- Be approachable: come early enough, create a safe learning atmosphere. Introduce other teachers of the course, and how to contact them. Listen to students in breaks and after teaching sessions. Have reception hours in your office
Students want to learn. Keep in mind:
- Let students have time to learn the core topics (Get Inspired!, chapter 2.1)
- Support students to improve their study skills (Get Inspired!, chapter 2.2)
- Give feedback from learning. According to study well-being survey, students want to know more about their learning progress than the points and final grades
- Discuss with students what improves or hinders learning so that it is not only seen afterwards in the course feedback. If needed, use anonymous surveys
- Take care of yourself and other course staff. Do not overload yourself with duties
When the course is coming to end, notice the following:
- Explain clearly the requirements of the possible final exam and its practical arrangements
- If you have a final exam, be aware of arrangements in your department: exam papers, invigilators, etc.
- Course feedback is collected automatically anonymously from all courses. Teachers can add own questions. You can motivate students to give feedback (e.g., by giving some extra points)
There are some important issues in the end of the course:
- Evaluate students' assignments and exam as quick as possible
- Export the results to MyCourses (either using Gradebook or giving an attachment in Section "For Aalto Users" or "Results") so that students are aware of them. There must be only the student ID in the result list, not student's name!
- Finish the results and bring the study attainments to Oodi as instructed by the department no later than 28 days from the exam or last study event. The accomplishment date is the latest study event (e.g., final exam, submission deadline of assignment), not the latest inspection day or day when study attainments are sent to Oodi
- Organize an event where students can see their own exams and criteria for the evaluation (Aalto University General Regulations on Teaching and Studying OOS 20§)
- Store the exam papers required time
Some advice after the course:
- Read the course feedback and process it with other course staff. Write a short summary of your findings in feedback and publish it in MyCourses. Write down the processed development activities for the next course implementation
- If you collect your teaching portfolio, append the material (Get Inspired!, chapter 6)
Here are some possible exceptionial cases during the course:
- Adding new events, or changing time or location of your current course events. The schedule planning reserves spaces and time for teaching and exam. This has been done in the previous study year. If there is a need to add new events, you can request it from school's learning services. Changes are useful to do in the ASIO booking system so that changes will be copied correctly to WebOodi and MyCourses
- Lack of access rights in WebOodi and MyCourses. Each teacher should have correct rights to utilize WebOodi, MyCourses, and course feedback system
- Changing the opening date of the course feedback. The course feedback system reads information from WebOodi, e.g., when the survey is published to students. You can ask to change opening date so that is suits your teaching better. The requests can be sent to [email protected]
- Sudden cancellation or change of an event: use MyCourses (Announcements message) to inform students about changes
Some notes of the communication:
- Tell students in the beginning, how to contact teaching staff
- Information concerning the course is primarily provided through the MyCourses course space. In urgent matters, the course teacher can send e-mail via WebOodi or MyCourses. It is recommended to use the MyCourses "Announcements" feature to send fortified messages to the students. It is advisable to target information mainly for students approved to the course (instead of all of enrolled). Students should be guided to present general questions in the MyCourses discussion forum area so that everyone can benefit from the answers given to the students
- Particular attention should be paid to the informing about assessment of study attainments. Assessments can be reported to students in MyCourses within Aalto's time frames. For more information, see "Examinations and results".
- Notice data protection in your communications
- Decorous communications is polite, focuses on topic at hand and does not include personal factors (e.g. religion, gender, character, age), which are mainly insignificant in terms of studying. Decorous communications involves to give the students all the relevant information to accomplish a course
- Notice that Aalto University has code about responsible behavior: Code of conduct
- Informing students in the major, programme or whole department. Many departments, majors and programmes have student mailing lists for general informing, such as for course marketing. The way of using student e-mailing lists may vary, staff of services can more accurately describe the use of the e-mail lists
- Everyone working in Aalto University is good to add own contact information to Aalto People. In addition to specifying contact information, you can tell e.g. when students can meet you at your office
- The most important thing about communication is reachability - so that students can get their things done
Additional information for teachers
Here you can find some useful links in addition to aalto.fi links below:
- "Get Inspired! - A guide for successful teaching" (PDF in English, and PDF in Finnish). A very practical book written by pedagogical experts at Aalto in 2013
- UNIPS modules. UNIPS (University Pedagogical Support in Finland) is a national project to provide online pedagogical material for university teachers
- Academic policies and regulations at Aalto University (Into is student portal at Aalto) including Degree regulations, Examination guidelines, Code of academic integrity, etc.
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