The Swedish School of Social Science (Soc&kom) invests in the development of digital learning environments and the provision of small-group teaching to increase the flexibility of studies and enable students to develop a wide range of skills.

Students are offered not only seminars and traditional lectures, but also many other forms of teaching, such as drama exercises, reading groups, methodological workshops, podcast courses, text-focused discussions, process writing, project-based work and role play.

Teaching is based on research, and Soc&kom develops new ways for students to come into contact with research. Teaching groups are often smaller than at large universities in general. We aim for personal contact between students and teachers. The Soc&kom building in the Kruununhaka district of Helsinki serves as a Swedish-language space within the University of Helsinki.

Each student creates a personal portfolio

Within the Bachelor’s Programme in Social Sciences, all students work on a personal portfolio during their studies. This means that when completing courses, students analyse and document their ways of thinking, learning and acting. They reflect on their work methods and on what they have learned in specific courses, saving all texts, video clips or other resources, if any, they have created. At the end of their bachelor’s studies, students present their portfolio during a special discussion session. They also write a portfolio story in which they summarise what they have learnt in their chosen study track through basic, intermediate and methodological studies as well as optional studies.  

The portfolio supports students in developing their metacognitive skills, i.e., observing their own learning style and analysing their own development during their studies. This helps students identify their knowledge and skills before their transition to a master’s programme and, later, the job market, and helps develop their ability to work as specialists in the field.

Examples of teaching methods in different disciplines
Quality and development of teaching

We support students’ participation in the development of teaching, joint discussions and other activities, thus promoting their participation in the academic community as a whole.

At Soc&kom, pedagogical development is supported by Åsa Mickwitz, senior lecturer in university pedagogy, of the Centre for University Teaching and Learning (HYPE). She supports learning and teaching and offers staff training in university pedagogy based on top-level research in the field. The activities offered to staff include pedagogical cafés for discussing topical pedagogical issues. Teachers at Soc&kom have also invested a great deal of effort in the diversification of teaching, for example, by integrating on-site and remote teaching and digitalising teaching material (e.g., podcasts and lecture videos). Teachers share their teaching material and tips with each other through a designated Moodle site.

The development of teaching is based on the systematic collection of feedback from students through the HowULearn survey. Students complete the survey four times during their bachelor’s and master’s studies, providing valuable information on how they view teaching at Soc&kom. Students also receive feedback on how they study. After completing a bachelor’s degree, students complete the Finnish Bachelor’s Graduate Survey, whose results are used to monitor and enhance the quality of teaching.

The University of Helsinki Teachers’ Academy is a unique network of top teachers. Its objective is to improve the status of teaching and strengthen its position within the academic community, and enable teachers to obtain qualifications and be rewarded for their pedagogical merits rather than just their research merits.

The Teachers’ Academy selection criteria include the continuous development of pedagogical skills and guidance, teaching and guidance methods that promote student learning and skills, the ability to develop and use learning material, and participation in the collaborative development of teaching. The selected teachers become permanent members of the Teachers’ Academy and receive a three-year personal grant. The teachers’ units also receive a development grant for the same period. These funds must be used to enhance teachers’ pedagogical knowledge and skills and to develop teaching.

Three Soc&kom staff members are members of the Teachers’ Academy:

  • Johan Bärlund, rector and professor of Nordic law
  • Anna Henning-Lindblom, vice-rector for academic affairs, director of the Bachelor’s Programme in Social Sciences, university lecturer of social psychology
  • Martin Björklund, university instructor of public law and general jurisprudential studies

Read also the article: Martin Björklund: It is teachers' fault if students enjoy lectures but learn nothing

Digitalisation plays an increasingly important role at Soc&kom. We support the digital skills of staff with training and support services that meet the latest needs. Christian Lindblom, specialist in educational technology, and Mats Söderman, coordinator, play an important role in the provision of support at Soc&kom. In addition, we help create and implement development projects for virtual mobility. For example, Soc&kom has for several years been engaged in teaching cooperation with universities in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. This cooperation brings together students from different parts of the world in virtual classrooms.

In autumn 2021, Soc&kom opened its completely upgraded audiovisual studio. The studio serves as a professional environment for the completion of practical assignments by journalism students, but also promotes the digitalisation of Soc&kom as a whole and supports the development of digital solutions for teaching, research and public engagement.

The studio enables radio broadcasts based on the same technologies and work methods used by many Finnish and international professional media outlets, including planning tools, database archiving and sound editing. In addition, the studio can be used for podcasts with up to four participants as well as for webcasts, both live streams and recordings.

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"We all need to understand what digitalisation means"