Experiences of Erasmus Internship: being part of a research team and doing research in Finland

I had an opportunity to do my 3-month internship, and collect data for my own research, here at the Centre for Educational Assessment.

I chose to come to Helsinki because my doctoral dissertation focuses on comparison of three countries, Latvia, Finland, and the United States. My supervisor for this time was Dr. Raisa Ahtiainen whom I contacted many months before the start of the internship as I found her research experience and interests similar to mine.

My doctoral dissertation focuses on teacher competence assessment for their professional learning, especially during times of rapid educational changes such as curriculum reforms. Teacher competence in my research is conceptualized as the combination of professional skills, knowledge and attitudes regarding pedagogical instruction.

The goal of the internship period was to conduct in-depth semi-structured interviews with school principals and teachers to acquire information for how these professionals make decisions and interpret their practices regarding in-service teacher competence assessment and the ways they answer to teacher professional learning needs. In total, 9 primary and secondary schools in the area of Helsinki and Vantaa were included in the study. Additionally, I met and interviewed educational experts representing different institutions – the Ministry of Education and Culture, Finnish principal association, University of Helsinki, Turku University, and city education boards. This was done to get a broader and, at the same time, more in-depth information on the Finnish education context.

I will do similar fieldwork in Latvia and California (US) in order to make a comparative analysis of the different practices and educational context that the three countries embody regarding teacher competence assessment.

Anete Butkēviča, a doctoral student in sociology and a scientific assistant at the Interdisciplinary Center for Educational Innovation, University of Latvia. anete.butkevica@lu.lv