While I have been reflecting more generally about Finnish education and culture on this blog over the past several months, I realized I have not provided any real updates on how my research projects are going. So–for those interested–here they are now:
I am excited to share that I am currently in the process of submitting a paper I wrote in the Fall to an academic journal. I will share more of the specifics about that project once it is published, but the paper examines the potential of online learning environments, such as Massive Online Open Courses (i.e. MOOCs), to facilitate the community-centered, reflective education critical for teachers’ professional development. I will say that writing this paper was a tremendous learning experience, as it forced me to delve into educational pedagogy literature and qualitative research methods–both topics I have had no formal instruction in, but I really enjoyed teaching myself about.
Over the next month, I am also working on assessing the regional impacts of LUMA’s 37 development projects by mapping out the reach of these programs across Finland. I will then join several other members of the LUMA team in presenting these maps to members of the Finnish Ministry of Education responsible for overseeing LUMA’s development projects. A key goal of this program is to reach at least 80% of Finland by 2019, so I hope that these maps will help the program coordinators better assess how LUMA needs to proceed to reach this goal.
After this presentation, I will begin my final research project–an assessment of how effective these development projects are in motivating an interest in STEM subjects for the youth involved. This will likely involve a survey of students in selected programs, and then a qualitative analysis of those findings. The specific scope and research question involved in this analysis will be informed by the conversations we have with the Ministry of Education in February.
I am also excited to start auditing a course this week at the University of Helsinki–Introduction to the Finnish Education System. I hope this class helps to fill in any gaps in my knowledge as I proceed with the rest of my research, and I am also interested to experience what undergraduate university classes are like here.
This year of research began with quite a stark learning curve, so I am happy to see these projects finally coming more into fruition and am grateful for all that I have already had a chance to learn about the Finnish education system, and learning/teaching and education policy more broadly.