Special Seminar: Sirpa Riihiaho "Human-centred Teaching"

This talk is arranged at the Department of Computer Science and it's open to everyone free-of-charge. The talk will take place at 14:00 in lecture room AS3, TUAS building.

Human-centred Teaching

Sirpa Riihiaho


From my numerous highlights in teaching, I picked four to characterise me as a teacher. Firstly, the teacher of the year 2002 prize at Helsinki University of Technology proves that my teaching has been valued both by my colleagues and my students. Secondly, I have been able to build up discussion and interaction even in the largest lecture halls at HUT. Thirdly, I have found a way to give constructive feedback without discouraging the students. Fourthly, as I have earned the students trust, they have supported me when needed. These examples also reflect my desire to care for the individuals, their background and goals. Although new technology offers more and more tools and gadgets to be used in teaching, I put more weight on the human side and try to consider the cognitive abilities that have remained much the same for the last about 300 000 years.

Also my research is human-centred: my topic is human-centred design, and my research methods focus on qualitative methods with real users. In the digital creativity research group at the University of Helsinki, we studied the user experience of an artificial intelligence based system with schoolchildren. We compared the user experience in three situations: alone with the AI-system, in pairs with the AI-system and in pairs without digital assistance. Our three articles published so far have focused on the research methods, the selected evaluation metrics and the quantitative results from the questionnaires. The qualitative results from the observations and interviews, however, are not yet published, but under planning. As a new topic, I also aim to study the field of cognitive accessibility – what does it mean for different people, and how could it be taken into account in product development. The results of these studies should reflect to our courses on user-centred design, and hopefully to all teaching in Aalto University, making the studies of people with various disabilities more equal and natural.


Sirpa Riihiaho has worked as a senior lecturer in Aalto University and a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki. Her research and teaching in Aalto focused on the methods for user-centred product development, especially on usability evaluation methods. At the University of Helsinki, she studied the user experience of an artificial intelligence based system intended for children. In addition to her academic career, Riihiaho has worked as a usability specialist in Oy Apotti Ab.

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