Johanna Komppa works at the Department of Finnish, Finno-Ugrian and Scandinavian Studies of the Faculty of Arts. In addition to teaching Finnish and academic writing, she has been involved in the development of students’ professional skills.
In the grounds for admitting Komppa into the Teachers’ Academy, she is particularly commended for engaging students and listening to feedback. She is described as an active participant, publisher and developer in her academic community, as well as a skilled user of digital learning environments. Komppa also distinguishes herself in considering student diversity and international backgrounds.
Teachers support and give space
Johanna Komppa is familiar with the utilisation of varying teaching methods and experiments, as well as being active in the development of education. She suggests teachers should not cling too much to their plans or teach from the top down: flexibility and providing support are key capabilities.
“At a university of applied sciences, I taught students in the social welfare and healthcare sector without any personal knowledge of the content of their studies – I’m not a healthcare or social welfare professional. It was a really productive intersection: we discussed how things could be said in Finnish with students familiar with the content.”
According to Komppa, doing things together and brainstorming constitute a driving force. Teachers should be ready to spar with their students.
“It helps if you have the courage to step away from specific plans. The circumstances and the group will keep you afloat.”
The teaching profession is founded on research-based knowledge
Johanna Komppa has developed research-based teaching in various projects, one of which is the ongoing Kielibuusti (‘Language Boost’) project funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture. The project enhances the skills of international higher education students and staff in Finnish and Swedish, consequently boosting their employment.
Komppa builds her teaching with the help of her pedagogical expertise, with research-based knowledge as the thread running through it.
“The pedagogical perspective affects the form of teaching: which methods would, for example, fit individual courses, or activate even large groups, or help students gain insights? And what would make students take part in each other’s learning and construct knowledge together? In fact, I greatly appreciate teaching duties in my work as a lecturer.”
The goal is for students to learn to independently understand connections between course components and begin synthesising them into a whole in their minds. This is what Komppa calls the viscosity of teaching.
“I also use meta-talk and discussion, including interim and end-of-course feedback. Students benefit from hearing one another’s different viewpoints.”
Inclusivity generates wellbeing
“The Study Track in Finnish is a large work community, and that is a blessing. Courses are designed collaboratively, materials can be shared, and problems and solutions can be discussed with colleagues. It generates wellbeing and inclusivity,” Komppa says.
In fact, the Teachers’ Academy selection criteria refer to the sharing of personal knowledge with one’s own teacher community.
“A real sense of working together and support for weighing ideas is very important, and something I missed during the period of remote working.”
For her students, Komppa establishes an atmosphere where everyone can support each other. Even though everyone is completing their own assignments, there is no competition. Instead, students support and help one another.
“As a teacher, I’m available to students in such everyday situations.”
Growing into experts is vital for the future
As the person in charge of career education in the study rack, Johanna Komppa has observed students’ transition to professional life from a vantage point. What she expects from university education in the future is above all support for the development of student expertise.
Komppa has successfully experimented with the tools of identifying and expressing expertise in a year-long career course organised with colleague Suvi Honkanen.
“The teaching programme describes what students are supposed to learn in each course. Would it be possible to pause at the end of courses to consider whether these goals were achieved? At the same time, students would better perceive their knowledge and skills, and enjoy support in articulating them. This would be useful when you have to describe your skills, for example, in job applications or in conversation with people outside your field,” Komppa says.
“Starting to recognise, and have the courage to acknowledge, what you are capable of can also make it easier to find your own career path.”