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Business Academy SouthWest Denmark Finland News Research University of Turku

TourNord at the NordYrk 2021 conference!

Timo Halttunen (University of Turku), Anders Karkov (Business Academy SouthWest), Christian Dragin-Jensen (Business Academy SouthWest) and Céline Kylänpää (University of Turku) presented their research last week at the NordYrk 2021 online conference at Linköping University, Sweden. With 193 registered participants, the conference brought many (Nordic) researchers and participants interested in the conference’s theme: “Transitions to, between, and within school and working life in vocational education and training”.

The Tournord members’ research, titled “Collaborative Problem Solving in Real-World Situations”, involved 4 case studies of culinary (VET) and tourism management (higher education) students in Finland and Denmark. Travelling to hotels in the cities of Sønderborg (DK) and Pori (FI), students were tasked on tackling a very (globally) relevant issue of food waste in the hospitality sector.  

Lead author Timo Halttunen presented the case studies and findings, bringing to attention the impact of different conditions present at the workspace to collaborative problem solving. As Timo Halttunen states:

“In classrooms, problems have a clear starting point and a goal. At the workplace, problems are often ill-defined, meaning that the starting point and end result are not that clear. At the workplace students may or may not receive support for their problem solving, and they are left to their own devices. In our study, we found that access to expert skill and knowledge is crucial for success in collaborative problem solving. However, the students underused the learning affordances present at the workspace. Furthermore, it was important that students had an opportunity to access the authentic venue to explore the problem space. In this case, the restaurant for breakfast buffet at the hotel was a richer environment for student collaborative problem solving than a conference room or a pub at the same hotel. To conclude, it was important that teachers were present to intervene when needed, and to provide students with support in perspective taking and generating solutions. When students got back on track again, teachers stepped aside and let the students to develop their sense of agency and take charge of their own learning process”.

Timo Halttunen, Head of Brahea Development Services at University of Turku and Chairman of UCEF (University Continuing Education Network Finland).

The research contributes to the growing body of academic literature highlighting the need for teachers, educators and professionals to bridge the gap between classroom and workplace. Moreover, Collaborative problem solving provides a fascinating insight into solving ill-defined problems, a critical 21st century skill.  

You can find the conference abstract here.

Have any questions about the research or want to collaborate? Contact Timo Halttunen or Christian Dragin-Jensen.

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Business Academy SouthWest Denmark Finland Research University of Turku

Work-Based Learning in Finland and Denmark!

Last week, the University of Turku (UTU) and Business Academy SouthWest (BASW) conducted several Work-Based Learning sessions in Pori, Finland and Sønderborg, Denmark. The topic of the Work-based learning (WBL) sessions was Food waste in the food service sector. The goal of these sesssions were to study teacher and learner strategies in Creative Problem Solving, as a means to obtain meaningful learning. Specifically, the project aims at exploring how teachers and learners determine the right problem to solve, and how to solve it. Inspired by a design thinking process, the focus is on emphasizing with customer needs, defining a problem and ideating to solve the problem. The notion of meaningful learning is studied from the perspective of how teachers and learners co-create a learning process that aims at supporting better understanding of the needs of the customer and strategies for solving their problems.

The project project draws upon existing state-of-the-art research in education, such as Hesse et al.’s framework for teachable collaborative problem solving skills ( 2015), Tynjälä et al.’s model of integrative pedagogy (2016) and work-based learning (e.g. Kis, 2016; Lemanski & Overton, 2016; Siebert, Mills, & Tuff, 2009).

The project aims to answer the following research questions:

  • How do teachers script engaging learning processes that support development of learner autonomy and agency?
  • What constitutes an industry-relevant learning process?
  • Can student work readiness be improved by supporting learner autonomy and agency?

A more in-depth description of the project can be found here.

What did the sessions look like?

Working together with staff from the Sokos Hotel Vakuuna Pori and students and teachers from the Satakunta University of Applied Sciences in Finland, UTU observed teacher and learner strategies. Firstly, the hotel manager Riina Ojanen presented the problem of food waste at the hotel. Students then, in groups, worked on redefining the problem and were then allowed to ask the hotel manager additional questions in order to reformulate and fine-tune the problem. They then worked in groups to provide solutions. Each group came onstage to present their findings. The other groups listened carefully, and asked more questions when necessary. The hotel manager gave feedback on the solutions provided. Finally, students evaluated their learning experience using an online tool, mentimeter. Teachers evaluated the groups learning process and their own teaching experience.

WBL: Students from Satakunta University of Applied Sciences at the Sokos Hotel Vakuuna Pori.

In Denmark, BASW worked together with Hotel Sønderborg Strand, where a similar structure was held. First, the students received a tour of the hotel (with masks due to CoVID-19 restrictions in Denmark!). The topic of food waste was then presented by Executive Chef Allan Larsen, Hotel Manager Dorit Møller and marketing coordinator Trine Nielsen. The groups (and teacher), just as in Finland, followed the same process to reach solutions, as well as their evaluation of the session.

Picture (left): A student presenting his group’s solution to Food Waste to other students.