Teaching Council Policy Guideline: Good practices in curriculum design

The Teaching Council has approved this document on 8 September 2014.

This is a summary of the guideline. Whole document can be found from the page Teaching Council Policy Guidelines in intra.

NB: This is an unofficial translation. In the event of any discrepancies between the Finnish and English versions, the original Finnish version shall prevail.

Framework for curriculum design

The framework for curriculum design is based on laws and decrees, the Regulations of the University of Tampere, the University’s strategy and the related programmes of measures, as well as on Teaching Council policy guidelines, guidelines of Study Services and Faculties, and on the University’s quality management documents.

Educational planning

Educational planning and the organisation of curriculum design:

  • Educational planning follows the University’s strategy and regulations as well as the guidelines provided by the Teaching Council, Study Services and Faculties.
  • Education is planned by the Faculties to form a comprehensive whole, taking into account the international Master’s   programmes and other education offered in English, Open University courses, continuing education and international education services right from the start.
  • Curricula are designed in a way that enables all degree students to include the internationalisation module in their degree and to complete an exchange or an internship period abroad.
  • Degrees include a module of free choice studies, as well as studies in languages, communication and information retrieval skills; this fact is taken into account when planning instruction.
  • Curriculum design is a process; it is continuous and consistent. Each degree programme has an official curriculum design  committee that is constantly active – not only when a new curriculum document is compiled.
  •  Educational planning is managed and the responsibilities in the planning process are shared to ensure an adequate  epresentation and competence as well as an experience of inclusion.
  •  A representative selection of instructors and students participate in the planning of education from the outset, as do external interest groups as necessary.
  •  The process of educational planning is described in the operations manual of the Faculties and documented in order to make it known to those participating in the educational planning.
  •  The process of educational planning is developed by the curriculum design committee and the Faculty council.

Competence-based approach

  • Educational planning is competence-based; the skills required of a person to earn a Master’s and/or Bachelor’s degree are determined, and the degree programme is designed to enable the students to achieve such learning outcomes.
  • The competence-based approach is cross-sectional; all levels of degrees have been designated specific learning outcomes related to knowledge, skills, understanding and attitudes.
  • The scope of studies is based on the learning outcomes
  • The degree programmes’ student admission processes are developed in relation to the curriculum and the learning outcomes specified in it; the reason for this is to enable the recruitment of motivated students.

Broad-ranging degree programmes

  • The Bachelor’s degree and student admissions of a degree programme are designed so that Bachelor’s studies are broad-ranging and students specialise only as the studies progress.
  • A minimum of 25 credits of the Bachelor’s studies are common to all degree programme students.
  • The free choice studies of Bachelor’s degree programmes ensure the opportunity to select courses offered by the student’s own Faculty and the entire University.
  • The degree programme’s own studies are offered to students of other degree programmes as free choice studies.
  • The knowledge and skills acquired during the Bachelor’s degree studies are diverse and equip students with various competencies.
  • Instruction and study strive for multidisciplinarity, interdisciplinarity and even transdisciplinarity.
  • The diversity of instruction and learning is supported by pedagogic solutions, such as phenomenon or problem-based learning and inquiry-based learning.
  • The curriculum ensures a smooth transition from the Bachelor’s level to Master’s studies
  • The curriculum includes the learning outcomes for good scientific practice and the principles of ethically sustainable study from the level of the degrees to the level of the study units in all degree programmes.
  • The curricula include studies that are suitable for the internationalisation module and that enhance skills and knowledge in sustainable development.

 The implementation of education

Flexible modes of study and skills assessment

  • The annual teaching schedules are organised in a way that provides students with the opportunity to complete 60 credits per academic year and graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in three (3) years and with a Master’s degree in two (2) years.
  • In planning and implementing the instruction, the workload of students and instructors is taken into account, and the instruction duties are shared among staff members so that time will also remain for research.
  • Diverse methods of instruction, learning and assessment are used in order to support the achievement of the learning outcomes.
  • In instruction and skills assessment, flexible modes and times of study are used that enable different types of learners and students in different life situations to progress in their studies.
  • Competence-based curriculum is fully utilised in recognising and accrediting prior learning. The RPL process is systematically incorporated into the personal study planning, i.e. the supported HOPS process. Also skills acquired elsewhere during the university studies are systematically taken into account.

Academic advising and student counselling

  • Degree programmes have an up-to-date plan for academic counselling that is followed. The curriculum and teaching schedules create the framework for planning and implementing academic counselling, particularly as a part of instruction.
  • The student counselling related to the personal study plan (HOPS) is systematic and continues from the beginning until the end of studies. HOPS instructors work together under the leadership of the degree programme’s head of academic counselling and develop academic counselling in their degree programme. The HOPS process supports students’ growth into academic experts.

Instruction and instructors

  • Instruction is collective in nature. Instructors share knowledge and experiences, the more experienced instructors teach those with less experience and instructors teach together.
  • Instruction duties and workload are distributed fairly, taking into account each instructor’s competence in a well-planned and efficiently managed process
  • The number of instructors is systematically increased so that the researchers in the Faculties, cooperation partners outside the University, and representatives of other interest groups are included in the pool of potential instructors.
  • Instructors function as role models for students by acting in an ethically sustainable manner in their duties of instruction, academic counselling and research.

The assessment of education

  • Degree programmes have a feedback system that complies with the Teaching Council policy guidelines and that consists of 1) collecting feedback and other assessment information, 2) a systematic and engaging analysis of the feedback and assessment information as well as of data collected from registers, statistics and reports, 3) forms of documenting the activities that promote development and 4) methods of monitoring the effects of the development activities.
  • Information produced by the feedback systems is extensively used to support the planning and development of education.
  • Students are taught to act as responsible providers of feedback. Furthermore, the students are informed of the effects of their feedback in order to sustain the motivation to provide feedback in future.

The development of education

  • The development of education focuses on the smooth progress of studies, the accrual of skills specified in the learning outcomes and the completion of degrees.
  • The development of education is based on the systematic use of information provided By feedback, statistics and reports, as well as on identifying the development needs with the help of this information.
  • Development needs are prioritised, scheduled and documented.
  • The effects of development actions are assessed.
  • Education is developed in the long term and as an essential element of the Faculties’ core activities. The work on the development of education is combined with human resources and financial planning as well as with the development of research.
  • Faculties’ decisions concerning education are based on the University’s strategy and its implementation programmes, the Faculties’ plans and performance agreements.
  • Development activities draw on the competence of staff and students, such as on instructors’ university pedagogical education.
  • The curriculum is the most important document for developing education. It is used extensively and diversely.
  • The development of education takes systematically advantage of the competence and feedback of the degree programmes’ interest groups.

The management of education

  • The University’s degree programmes recognise and acknowledge the importance of educational management; the management of education is appreciated in defining professional duties (in estimating the demands of the duties and in planning the work), and in recruiting and professional promotion.
  • Every degree programme has an appointed person responsible for the degree programme in question, whose tasks have been defined based on the relevant Rector’s decision and discussions within the Faculty.
  • Responsibilities for decision-making concerning education and the preparation of decisions have been defined and described, and they are known by instructors, students and Study Services personnel.
  • The management of education helps to maintain and improve the respect for instructors’ professional competence.

Student engagement, learning and well-being

  • Students have to be made aware of their rights and responsibilities as university students and members of the academic community. As tools in this task serve the curriculum, orientation studies, the drafting and updating of a personal study plan (HOPS) and communications (especially websites).
  • Students are offered the opportunity to influence all matters concerning them at an early stage of the decision-making process. Students are invited to participate in all committees that prepare matters relating to studies or studying.
  • Degree programmes organise formal and informal forums to secure interaction between students and instructors.
  • Degree programmes actively cooperate with student associations on the degree programme and Faculty levels and, if possible, find meeting spaces for them.
  • Students’ motivation to provide feedback on their learning and the factors supporting or hindering it is ensured by taking their feedback into account and by communicating about its effectiveness. Students can personally participate in collecting and handling feedback.
  • Degree programmes acknowledge the importance of student well-being and a positive atmosphere for the smooth progress of studies.
  • Degree programmes systematically use the information on student well-being produced By the students’ well-being group or available elsewhere and on the factors affecting it.
  • Students are members of the scientific community, and they are encouraged and taught to apply an inquiry-based learning approach from the beginning until the end of their studies.

Recruitment, competence and well-being of instructors

  • Instructor’s competence is confirmed at the recruitment stage and supported by orientation, university pedagogical training as well as educational reports and experiments.
  • Professional merits related to instruction are taken into account according to the University’sstrategy in recruiting and promoting instructors.
  • Curriculum is used to support and maintain the well-being and coping of instructors.