Evaluation of teacher education qualifying to teach Swedish as the second national language in Finland

03/2015–04/2017

The Finnish Education Evaluation Centre (FINEEC) implemented a thematic evaluation of teacher education qualifying to teach Swedish as the second national language in Finland during 2015–2017. The aim of the evaluation was to look into the present status as well as possible development targets of those higher education teacher programmes which educate future teachers aiming to teach Swedish as their main subject or along with other subjects. The evaluation covered the following teacher and language education programmes in universities and universities of applied sciences:

  • subject teacher education for future teachers of Swedish
  • class teacher education
  • language immersion teacher education
  • vocational teacher education ( specialisation in teaching Swedish)
  •  Swedish as a major (in university-based teaching)

The evaluation focused on three themes: The aim of the first theme was to construct a general view on the contents and overall quality of teacher education, as well as how up-to-date the education programmes are. As one of the main perspectives, the interest lied on the new national core curriculum for basic education. The external evaluation team focused on observing the teacher education programmes from the point of view of how well the new core curriculum is reflected in different courses offered at higher education institutions. The new curriculum was adopted in the beginning of August 2016. Along with the process of adopting the new curriculum, Swedish as the second national language (B1syllabus) will be studied already from the 5th or 6th grade, instead of 7th grade as in the previous core curriculum. This curricular change made it possible for class teachers to also teach the language to their pupils. Swedish can still be a separate subject with only subject teachers qualified to teach it, but upon the municipality’s or school’s decision, it can also be taught by class teachers as a normal school subject for younger pupils.

The aim of the second theme was to find out how the teaching of Swedish as the second national language is organised in different parts of Finland during the curricular reform, as well as the possible impacts of this reform on teacher education as a whole. The third theme focused on examining the amount and quality of student counselling offered during the basic education of pre-service teachers, from the point of view of future employment. The evaluation also covered the accessibility and content of continuing education focused on teaching Swedish. The latter part of the evaluation was conducted in co-operation with the Swedish teacher trade organisation in Finland, aiming the questionnaire to in-service teachers of Swedish as the second national language.

The main data comprised of self-evaluation reports written by the academic teaching and research staff and students in the teacher education programmes, evaluative interviews of both the staff members and students, as well as content analyses of written curricula in the teacher education programmes and Swedish as a major programmes. In order to analyse the effects of different educational decisions concerning the teaching of Swedish in different parts of Finland, the external evaluation team utilised a recent study done by the University of Oulu on the employment of teacher and the organisation of Swedish teaching in three regions of Northern Finland (Kainuu, Lapland and Northern Ostrobothnia). The external evaluation team also gathered material for a small-scale comparison on the subject, by interviewing a group of educational decision-makers in the Southern parts of Finland.

This thematic evaluation followed the principle of enhancement-led evaluation, where the goal is to produce information on the theme in a way that will serve multiple purposes on various levels of education and decision-making, from the internal development of teacher education programmes in the higher education institutions to the national policy-makers. Both the staff and students of the teacher education programmes were engaged in the process of gathering the data.

The evaluation report was published in 2017. While the report is in Finnish, a summary is available in English.

The external evaluation team consisted of the following members:

The chair of the expert team

Mrs. Paula Rossi, Dean, professor of Nordic Philology, University of Oulu

Expert members

Ms. Anne Ainoa, Swedish language teacher responsible for pre-service teacher training in the Viikki training school at the University of Helsinki and representative of the Swedish teachers’ trade organisation in Finland

Mr. Olli Eloranta, Swedish and German language teacher and training officer responsible for the in-service language teacher training at the Federation of Foreign Language Teachers in Finland (SUKOL)

Ms. Marita Grandell, Swedish language and language immersion teacher at the Taivallahti primary school in Helsinki

Ms. Minna Lindberg, Senior specialist at Kuntaliitto (The Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities) responsible for matters concerning basic education in Swedish

Mr. Arto Sihvonen, Director of Education, the city of Lieksa

Ms. Jonna Tollola, student in the class teacher and Swedish teacher programme at the University of Jyväskylä