The yearly teaching achievement award went to Ilkka Korpela who enjoys teaching at field courses

First-year forestry students take part in the collection of a unique research data set at Korpela’s field courses in the Hyytiälä forestry field station.

After the first year of studying, the forestry students spend most of their summer at field courses in the Hyytiälä forestry field station. The station has long traditions and the students live in an old log building that was constructed in 1911. A large wood-heated sauna, located beside a lake, and weekly Wednesday parties take care that there is room for entertainment between the studies.

The students get to put the theory they have learned during their first year into practice at these courses. For instance, at the forest mensuration field course, the students learn to carry out the practical aspects of forest inventories and tree analysis.

The students take part in the collection of a unique research data set

Since 2007 university lecturer Ilkka Korpela has involved students in research and the collection of much observation material in Hyytiälä. He has developed an innovative method, which enables the first year students to locate themselves accurately on a tree map without technical aid, which helps in understanding many phenomena related to the structure of forests. Every summer, the students have measured and located over 4000 trees, which has enabled the creation of a unique time-series dataset. The material that consists of over 30,000 trees has been utilized in numerous doctoral dissertations, Master’s theses, research articles and business collaborations. At the same time, the students have learned the importance of careful measuring and research design.

“The more, the merrier. I want to help research groups and collaborate to advance science and the exchange of knowledge,” says award-winning university lecturer Ilkka Korpela. “By working together, great things can be achieved, and when the work has been done, it’s time to party”.

Boundary breaking co-operation in teaching

In his teaching, Korpela shows the same materials from multiple perspectives using, for example, simulations. He has decreased the number of lectures and believes that learning is more efficient by doing. None of his courses is the same, year after year, since Korpela updates his courses every year based on his experiences and the feedback he receives. He hopes that there would be more collaboration in teaching within the University.

"We could teach better, if we would do more collaboration over faculty boundaries and focus resources. This has been accomplished very well in our geoinformatics teaching", says Korpela.

Korpela doesn’t leave teaching to his courses only, but likes to continue the conversation, for example, over lunch or at the forestry students’ club house. He goes to the student restaurant for lunch so he could also have unofficial encounters with students.