We are interested in how the quality of teaching is emphasized and valued. How is leadership realised in practice and how do students and teachers experience the quality of learning? And how has the pedagogical leadership changed during the COVID 19-pandemic?

When it comes to qualitative teaching, the most important task is development and follow-up. The premise for pedagogical leadership and high-quality teaching is to include all actors involved in teaching activities, inside and outside the classroom, in order to build a common view on what high-quality teaching is. In practice, it is up to the individual teacher to ensure a good teaching in class, but a prerequisite for this is that the organisation provides sufficient academic freedom by allocating, among other things, empowerment, responsibility, and resources.

While there is no shortage of leadership research, particularly on recommendations for effective academic leadership skills, the challenges that contemporary higher education institutions face have yet to be answered. We argue that finding such contextually sensitive answers requires a multidisciplinary approach.

About the study

Our research team has conducted a study based on interviews with students, teaching staff, professors, heads of department and pro-vice-chancellors, to find out which issues are interesting for further studies and how the importance of leadership is accentuated under exceptional circumstances. The informants represent the Faculty of Science, the Faculty of Educational Sciences, the Faculty of Medicine, the Swedish School of  Social Science at University of Helsinki and Hanken School of Economics.

Based on the interviews, the informants have varying perceptions of pedagogical leadership: they see leadership as the responsibility to stand up for academic values, as well as the working quality in their unit.

The study shows that

  • what is essential for good pedagogical leadership varies between different units and levels: different faculties emphasize different things.
  • pedagogical leadership should be supported and developed at all levels
  • leadership is perceived differently at different levels
  • students feel that they have had more opportunities to influence teaching during the pandemic
  • teaching staff feel that their own integrity for teaching has been limited during the pandemic
  • increased autonomy has led to unclear rules and ambiguity about responsibility