Essi Ryymin & Alexandre Fonseca D’Andrea
“Today I feel my classroom alive and autonomous, I realize my students to become true protagonists.” (a Brazilian teacher)
The goal of our article is to present the Finnish-Brazilian teachers’ professional development programme Gira Mundo Finlândia and to explore what the pedagogical goals were of the programme participants, the Brazilian teachers, regarding development in their learning environment. The article reflects also what kind of support teachers needed in implementing the pedagogical change and presents the characteristics of three regional development projects for concretizing and conceptualizing the pedagogical development. Furthermore, the article presents the continuation of Brazilian teachers’ pedagogical work after the Gira Mundo Finlândia programme and explores the long-term impacts of the programme on teachers’ work. Empirical data for the study was gathered during the programme of the first pilot group in 2016–2017. The special focuses were on the results of an end phase questionnaire of the Finnish study period in 2016, on development project documentation of the implementation phase in Brazil in 2017 and on in-depth interviews to a focus group in 2018 supported by a delayed post-measurement questionnaire. The findings of the study reveal that Brazilian teachers’ pedagogical development goals in the programme were strongly connected to the paradigm shift from teacher-centred to student-driven learning and increasing student motivation and commitment to studying. The development projects introduced in the article display students in the focus of the learning process, active methods and inquiry pedagogy and innovative ideas for serving the community. After completing the programme, the Brazilian teachers continued pedagogical development work with a variety of student-driven methods and their main sources of inspiration were, for example, implementing digital solutions. Their main source of motivation for the continuation of pedagogical development, as well as one of the most important impact of GMF programme, were the change in students’ motivation and learning results. A network of teachers was considered important for further development, as well.
1. Introduction of transnational education
“Transnational education is an arrangement in which courses or programs offered by an educational institution based in one country are delivered to students located in another country” (Ziguras 2003; Alam, Alam, Chowdhury, & Steiner 2013). The United Nations describes transnational education as all types of higher education study programs, or sets of courses of study, or educational services in which the learners are located in a country different from the one where the awarding institution is based (UNESCO 2009).
According to Alam et al. (2013, 872), there are five modes used widely in transnational education. They are:
(a) branch campus,
(b) franchising or partnership,
(c) articulation or twinning,
(d) distance or virtual education, and
(e) study abroad.
The ‘Study abroad’ mode means that a student from an institution of a country travels to take courses for a fixed period at an institution, which is located in a different country. After completion of the course, students get due recognition of their completed courses in their home institutions. The arrangement allows students to be exposed and experienced different cultures, languages and lifestyles.
Gira Mundo Finlândia professional development programme for Brazilian teachers is one of the latest transnational education programmes between Häme University of Applied Sciences (hereafter HAMK) from Finland and its Brazilian partners. The initiative for educational co-operation came from the state of Paraíba in Brazil. Paraíba has established a modern policy for public education (Gira Mundo Paraíba n.d.) as a driving force for developing the social wellbeing and future competences in the state. The state secretariat of education of Paraíba chose HAMK as a partner for transnational teacher education on the basis of Finland’s worldwide reputation of its high quality teacher education, and on HAMK’s references on transnational teacher education programmes, especially in The VET Teachers for the Future programme (Ryymin, Kunnari, Joyce, & Laurikainen 2016; Ryymin, Laurikainen, Kentta, Carvalho, & Joyce 2018). Three educational developers from Paraíba graduated from The VET Teachers for the Future programme in 2016 and they formed a team to coordinate GMF programme teacher education in the context of a university of applied sciences upon request of the Secretariat of Education of Paraíba. The important elements for Brazilian educators for choosing a Finnish university of applied sciences as a partner was its long tradition in professional teacher education, competence-based approach and emphasis on skills for lifelong learning and robust collaboration with the world of work.
Gira Mundo Finlândia professional development programme (hereafter GMF) is an eight-month teachers’ professional continuous training, tailored according to the educational strategy and vision of Paraíba. The planning team includes both Finnish and Brazilian teacher educators and researchers. Altogether, five study cohorts and 150 Brazilian teachers participates in the programme in 2016–2019. The programme participants are professional, qualified teachers with several years working experience in public schools in the state of Paraíba, Brazil. They are mainly teachers from the seventh to the ninth grades of comprehensive, upper secondary, vocational and higher education schools; their students are 13–18 year old teenagers. Some of them also worked in the adult education sector (e.g. students completing their comprehensive school studies while working), and their students were 18–30 years old. The participants represent a variety of school subjects, for example, mother tongue and literature (Portuguese), foreign languages (English, Spanish), science (physics, chemistry, biology, and geography), mathematics, history, information and communication technology (ICT), arts and physical education. The participants represent three different geographical areas of Paraíba, they are known as “Zona da Mata” (the sea shore and its surroundings), “Agreste” (the mountain area) and “Sertão” (the semi-arid region). GMF is currently expanding in the Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK), HAMK’s partner university. In this article, the teachers studying in GMF programme are referred as “teachers” or “programme participants” instead of “teacher students” because they are all graduated and qualified professionals working in schools of Paraíba.
The programme is planned, implemented and assessed in transnational collaboration between Brazil and Finland, and it is also intentionally and iteratively developed by experimenting and researching the implementations. The competence-based curriculum of the programme was, in align, developed together with Brazilian coordination team and it was adapted to Paraíba State needs and specificities. The concept of curriculum is based on another teacher education programme between Brazilian Ministry of Education and Häme University of Applied Sciences, The VET Teachers for the Future, and its positive outcomes (Ryymin et al. 2016; Ryymin et al. 2018). The crucial part of the programme curriculum is the development work implementation period in Brazilian learning environment. The goal of this period is to support teachers to develop their daily practices and root their innovative pedagogical experiments.
The programme participants have an autonomy to develop and apply new pedagogical practices within the programme in line with the Brazilian curricular guidelines and the curricular basis of the teaching adopted in the state of Paraíba. As a result of the programme, no changes are made to the national curriculum, but significant changes are made in teaching and learning methodology.
The curriculum of the programme was further developed during the first pilot programme according to the feedback from the programme participants, and tailored and adapted to reach even more the skills and competences needed in the context of Paraíba State educational system. Following the conclusions of Bovill, Jordan, and Watters (2015, 9, 18), the Finnish-Brazilian planning team of GMF ensures that transnational learning and teaching works by confirming reciprocity and mutual benefit in the process. In addition to institutional credibility, there must be individual integrity and trust between collaborators. Like (Montgomery 2014, 9) suggests, the transnational education always needs to be collaboratively designed and negotiated between partners.
2. The context of the study
The context of this study was the first pilot programme of GMF from October 1, 2016 through June 20, 2017. The programme consisted of two sections: 1) an intensive two-month (2) study abroad phase at HAMK in Hämeenlinna, Finland, and then a five-month implementation phase in Paraíba, Brazil. The Finnish teacher educators offered online guidance for the implementation phase, and Brazilian teacher educators supported the process regionally in Paraíba. The programme was closed in the Final Seminar in Paraíba.
The online guidance was organised by HAMK’s online tools and participants joined in online sessions by using mobile devices and personal computers. There were no technical problems in the process. In addition, the participants implemented several digital learning tools and environments in supporting their personalized learning process in the programme.
There were twenty participants chosen for the first study group by the public call in Paraíba. The criteria for programme participant selection was their position as a professional teacher in a public school of Paraíba, fluency in English and the motivation demonstrated in their development work description and plan. The thematic key modules of development programme are the student-centred approach and innovative learning, recognizing individual needs, study counselling, digital tools in learning, teachers’ professional development, competence-based education and regional development work in Paraíba.
The goal of the programme was to support teachers’ professional development especially in active and inquiry learning methods, and guide and facilitate teachers’ regional development projects.
The approach and pedagogical design principles in teachers’ professional development in the programme follow the model of integrative pedagogy, which is based on the idea of professional expertise as an integrated entity of theoretical, practical, self-regulative and sociocultural knowledge (Tynjälä, Häkkinen & Hämäläinen 2014).
While theoretical, practical and self-regulative knowledge represent personal forms of knowing, sociocultural knowledge is embedded in social practices as well as artifacts used in these practices. All learning communities have their own ways of doing things e.g. unwritten rules and practices. This follows that participation in communities of practice is necessary to encounter this form of knowledge (Tynjälä et al. 2014). The implementation and methods of the programme rely on a framework of collaborative construction of knowledge (Bereiter & Scardamalia 1996) and learning as knowledge creation (Paavola, Lipponen, & Hakkarainen 2004).
3. The objectives of the study
As the goal of the pilot programme was to gather data for future GMF programmes, the variety of data gathered was implemented before, during and after the process. The Brazilian teachers responded, for example, to the initiative questionnaire, the questionnaire at the end of the intensive two-month study section in Finland, and to the final questionnaire after closing the study programme in Brazil. In addition, the teachers were individually interviewed about personalizing the study programme. Furthermore, the data gathering included documentation of their individual and group-based learning assignments and descriptions of their development projects by shared documents, photographing and making videos. There was also data recorded on the database of digital learning environments and social media used within the programme. The data was analysed for the development of the programmes following the pilot programme, to meet the personal needs, goals and challenges of teachers, and well as the regional strategy and vision of the state of Paraíba even better.
Although there is rich data gathered in the process for development purposes, in this study the focus is on three data gatherings: 1) the results of an end phase questionnaire of the Finnish study section in 2016, 2) on development project documentation of the implementation phase in Brazil in 2017 and 3) on a delayed post-measurement questionnaire and an in-depth interview to a focus group in 2018.
The goal of the study is to answer the following questions:
- What kind of goals did Brazilian teachers have regarding pedagogical development in their own environment within the programme and what kind of support did they need in the development project implementation phase?
- What were teachers’ pedagogical development projects like in practice and what were their prominent characteristics?
- How and why did teachers continue their pedagogical development work after completing the GMF programme? What was the impact of the programme?
- What kind of challenges do the teachers face in pedagogical development and how do they solve them?
4.1 The data gathering by an end phase questionnaire
In an end phase questionnaire, teachers were asked to describe their experiments on the development programme and their plans and considerations for their development project and future actions. Teachers responded to five Likert-scale statements of five ordered categories and sixteen open questions. In this study, the focus is on two open questions considering teachers’ goals regarding their pedagogical development in their own environment and on the support they considered important for the implementation phase. Altogether 18 teachers answered the end phase questionnaire at the end of the Finnish study period in November 2016.
In this case study concerning the pilot programme of GMF, the analysis of an end phase questionnaire was carried out within the framework of phenomenography (Marton 1988; Marton, Dall’Alba, & Beaty 1993, 282). It is a qualitative method emphasising a subject’s experience and conceptualisation of phenomena. It aims to reveal the qualitatively different ways in which people experience and conceptualize various phenomena in the world around them. People are considered conscious subjects, who can build different conceptions of phenomenon and express these conceptions by language.
Conceptions of teachers’ expressions were identified and grouped according to categories on the basis of similarities, differences and complementarities. To decide whether two expressions reflect the same conception, one must have an idea what the conception is. In this sense, the role of the researcher is significant in interpreting the data and forming the categories in descriptions (Marton et al. 1993; see also Ryymin, Veermans, & Lakkala 2005). The conceptions and their categories of descriptions were discussed and reviewed together with Finnish and Brazilian researchers. The categories of descriptions are introduced in section 5.
4.2 Development project documentation
The teacher students documented their development projects implemented in the Brazilian period as written reports and by sharing descriptions, photos and videos on the study group’s closed Facebook group. Altogether twenty teachers reported their development project implementation and description. On the basis of the reports, the teaches collected and finalized the development projects descriptions to the certificate publication of the programme (see Corado, Joyce, Laurikainen, & Ryymin 2017). They also represented their development project in the final seminar of the programme in June 2017 in Paraíba. The Brazilian and Finnish teacher educators analysed the development project descriptions and chose three of them to be presented is this study.
This process freely followed the case-study approach, as introduced by Bromely (1990, 302) as a systematic inquiry into an event or a set of related events, aiming to describe and explain the phenomenon of interest. The chosen projects presented the most prominent characteristics of the development projects implemented within the programme. The goal of a project introduction is to concretize and conceptualize the development work. The researchers bore in mind Yin’s (1994) recommendations to ask how and why when analysing development project reports.
4.3 Focus group interview and a delayed post-measurement questionnaire
The third data gathering was carried out by the in-depth focus group interview that was organized eight months after completing the online GMF programme. There were five teachers invited to a focus group interview in April 2018. They also responded to the questionnaire. The focus group data gathering was decided to be supported by a delayed post-measurement questionnaire including four open questions to inquire about the same themes of interest as the in-depth interview. This was important in the purpose for confirming the mutual understanding despite possible challenges in online connections and understanding the exact expressions of the interviewees, as they and the interviewing researcher spoke English as a foreign language.
It is recommended to organize the focus group interviews in small-size groups in order to provide opportunities for each participant to enter the talk frequently and to gain in-depth knowledge of complex phenomena (Kitzinger 2005). The focus group interview has been used predominantly in the qualitative research projects and emphasizes rich data of mutual interaction of the moderator and participants (Gavora 2015). One important principle for the interview in focus groups is that the moderator and participant have a common ground, this means that they must share the same knowledge in order to be understood and to accomplish a meaningful conversation (Clark 2006). In this case, the pedagogical development of teachers in the pilot group of the development programme created the common ground for the interview.
The themes for the in-depth focus group interview were 1) teachers’ continuation of pedagogical development work, 2) the challenges they had possibly faced in pedagogical development and their solutions to solve these challenges, 3) their opinions and experiences on GMF’s impact on their work after completing the programme and 4) their future plans. The interview was carried out on the hypothesis that it reveals essential aspects about GMF’s impact on teachers’ work and their pedagogical development work in their learning and working environment.
The process of analysing the interview and a post-delayed questionnaires comprised iterative explanation building between Finnish and Brazilian researchers and the focus group interviewees. The goal was to explain and understand the causalities of the real-life processes within a case study. (Yin 2009.)
In this research the empirical data in this case study include 18 teachers’ written reports, three (3) project descriptions and five (5) interviews, supported by a delayed post-measurement questionnaire with five (5) respondents (see in Table 1). From the point of view of the pedagogical development process, the use of longitudinal data may be an advantage, beacause it provides wider perspectives and greater variation of pedagogical development.
|Phase 1||Phase 2||Phase 3|
|November 2016||June 2017||April 2018|
|18/20 teachers answer the semi-structured open questionnaire at the end of the Finnish study period.||20/20 teachers report their pedagogical development projects at the end of Brazilian study period. Three projects presented in this study.||5/20 teachers participate in in-depth focus group interview and answer a post-delayed questionnaire.|
5.1 The Brazilian teachers’ pedagogical goals
Three categories of descriptions emerged in the analysis (see Figure 1) of the teachers’ goals related to pedagogical development. The first category of the description is student-centred approach and student motivation. The theme emerged from the descriptions of 12 teachers. There were clearly argued objectives to find solutions from student-centred, student-driven learning to unmotivated students, student drop-outs and challenges in achieving common learning goals in the teachers’ answers. Many of the respondents considered that excessively teacher-centred and fixed education was passivating and demotivating for teenage students and they wanted to make a change. Teachers wished to experiment and find methods and tools increasing students’ commitment to learning and for encouraging students to take more responsibility of their learning.
Student-centred learning refers to a wide variety of educational programmes, learning experiences, pedagogical approaches, and learning strategies that are intended to recognize the learning needs, interests, aspirations, or cultural backgrounds of individual students and groups of students. To accomplish this goal, the teacher implements a variety of pedagogical methods, from modifying assignments and learning strategies in the classroom to entirely redesigning the ways in which students are grouped and taught in a school (Abbott 2014). There is plenty of research concerning the approach in the educational discourse (e.g. Gibbs 1992; King 1995; Lea, Stephenson, & Troy 2003; Weimer 2002; Lonka & Ahola 1995; Schiller 2009, see Obeng [in press]). Student-centred typically refers to forms of instruction that, for example, give students opportunities to lead learning activities, participate more actively in discussions, design their own learning projects, explore topics that interest them, and generally contribute to the design of their own course of study (Abbott 2014).
Examples from the first category of description, student-centred approach, student motivation:
“I wish to engage and empower my students and change the way in which they learn.”
“I aim the meaningful learning and a mindset of my students, making an integration between different fields, teaching in an interdisciplinary, contextualized and linking pieces of information.”
“I would like to change the focus of the learning process, we had the focus on the teacher and on the contents, but we should understand that our main goal is on focus on the students’ competences.”
The second category of description is teacher collaboration. Six teachers concentrated on their descriptions of goals on promoting teacher collaboration in their schools and communities. The goal of teacher collaboration was to enhance and support school culture and develop and open up teachers’ knowledge sharing and pedagogical development in general. Accordingly, Kunnari and Ilomäki (2014) have found that the main source of interest and enthusiasm for teachers in promoting educational innovations was social interaction and networking, both of which create a feeling of relatedness.
Examples from the second category of description, teacher collaboration are:
“It is also important to establish a collaborative work with other teachers in my school.”
“I want that the teachers from my school work better in teamwork and the students to participate more and become more interested.”
“I would also like to be able to motivate my fellow teachers to experience more positive pedagogical changes that would allow an effective increase in the quality of our students’ learning.”
Four teachers linked their goals to implementation of digital solutions for learning, and this creates the third category of description. The goal related to the challenge to find pedagogically meaningful ways to use mobile devices, digital learning environments, tools and applications in learning.
Examples from the third category of description, digital solutions for learning:
“Use digital tools in my class or with extra class activities online.”
“…to provide an online English course to the students from public schools.”
“Provide an online environment to make (formative) assessments.”
5.2 Support in pedagogical development
Three categories of descriptions emerged in the analysis of the teachers’ reflections of support they need in pedagogical development (See Figure 2). The first category of description is pedagogical guidance and it was reported in seven descriptions. Teachers wished to receive personal guidance that would support them reaching their pedagogical goals individually in their learning environment. In line with Ryymin, Veermans, and Lakkala (2003), teachers benefit from pedagogical support in disseminating and consolidating new pedagogical practices. Teachers need training that supports them concretely and individually enough in the new pedagogical practices (Hargreaves, Earl, Moore, & Manning 2001).
Examples from the first category of description, pedagogical guidance are:
“Despite the effective change in thinking about education, the vast amount of information can be lost over time as we struggle to implement these changes. So the experience of Finnish professionals must also recharge us from time to time, clarifying ideas and improving practices.”
“I think that a procedural feedback is important to see constantly what is going in a good way and what needs to be better, so, we need to be in a constant process of evaluate of actions and to rebuild the things with your help.”
“In addition to maintaining contact to support me in relation to any doubt that may arise. The support of you is very important to give me strength when the difficulties appear.”
The second category of description is a network receiving five reflections and the third one is supportive material described by three respondents. Also, Ryymin and her colleagues suggest the importance of teachers’ collegial network and supportive networking relations in pedagogical change (Ryymin 2008; Ryymin, Hakkarainen, & Palonen 2008; Ryymin, Kunnari, Joyce, & Laurikainen 2016).
Here is an example from the second category of description, network:
“I need help from my colleagues, such as collaboration in the pedagogical planning and activities and opening to the new (restructuring, reculturing and retiming), because without this cooperation I would be every time alone, so I couldn’t do too much.
And an example from the third category of description, supportive material:
“I believe that at this time, the help could come in the form of providing more reading material, and indication of good videos. I know a lot of material was provided mainly digitally. But having the possibility of deepening the reading and the theoretical basis would be very important.”
Additionally, Zech, Gause-Verga, Bray, Secules, and Goldman (2000) emphasize how important it is that teachers understand the principles of learning theories behind the innovations when reforming teaching. As well as categories of descriptions, there were single mentions of need for support from administrators, facilities and competence development of students.
5.3 Three examples of development projects
In this chapter, three development projects are introduced to concretize and conceptualize the pedagogical development of the Brazilian teachers within the programme.
5.3.1 A student innovation for preventing Zika-virus in science studies
Biology teacher Izabelly Dutra Fernandes’ development project title was: “Health promotion at school and the combat to Aedes aegytpi: the importance of the use of digital tools and collaborative work in the control of Dengue, Zika Virus and Chikungunya Fever”. The project was implemented in spring term 2017 in Paraíba, Brazil.
The development project was a multidisciplinary learning project combining social and environmental studies and health education. The students learned individual and community-level competences to prevent Dengue, Zika and Chikungunya fever and shared knowledge and awareness of the disease. Students initiated methods for simulating the community and innovated an efficient mosquito trap for preventing Zika virus (see photos 1 and 2). The mosquito trap was made of recycled materials, tested and then widely implemented in the Paraíba region. The student innovation is now under further scientific research by universities.
Izabelly Dutra Fernandes describes the development project as follows: “The project was developed at the Padre Emídio Viana Normal School located in Campina Grande-PB. The activities were implemented during 40 school days for the purpose of methodological analysis, however its development will take place over a 2-month section. Approximately 40 regular high school students were involved in the project, with an age range of approximately 17 to 30-year-olds. In addition there was a class of the 1st year of the technical course in computer science and colleagues from the pedagogical team.
We used active teaching methodologies such as teamwork, problem-based learning, student-centered approach, and the use of digital technologies for the classroom. The students learned new concepts on the project, which helped to expand the knowledge about the theme, besides recognizing the importance of living in a diverse environment, through collaborative work with classes different from their own.” (Corado et al. 2017, 53.)
5.3.2 Digital storytelling in treasuring and sharing the community heritage in Portuguese studies
Teacher Alcione da Silva Santos’ (Portuguese language and literature) development project title was “Cinema in written textual genders: The adventure – verbal and visual-verbal texts knowledge”. The project was implemented in spring term 2017 in Paraíba, Brazil.
The development project was in the Portuguese language and the literature-learning project combined social studies and regional history. As a case example, the students examined the old regional tradition of healing by natural methods as a social phenomenon in supporting wellbeing in the community. The students studied the theme for example by interviewing the elderly of the community, who know and practice the tradition (See photo 3 and 4). They made a digital storytelling project of the tradition for sharing and treasuring the old regional heritage for supporting awareness and valorizing the local traditional culture, language, manners and cultural artefacts.
Alcione da Silva Santos describes the development project as follows: “The work has been developed in the EEEFM Minister José Américo de Almeida, in Areia, Paraíba. The project will be held in approximately five months, and there will be two activities: the first activity is writing classes for 93 students from 3rd grade in high school, who already wrote the genre synopsis. And the second one will be the production of a short fiction film. The main goal is to develop reading skills proposed by benchmarking exams such as IDEPB (Education Development Index in the State of Paraíba), which is: Identify what makes the conflicts in a plot and the elements that build a narrative. In addition, it is also intended to develop students’ competences to read elements that make up a language for audiovisual narrative. The methods of assessment are the writing and rewriting the texts and a constant and reflexive dialogue with the students to verify if what they use has formal elements capable of producing the expected sense effect in the reader/viewer.” (Corado et al. 2017, 24.)
5.3.3 Mobile learning in promoting gender equality and safety in English studies
Teacher Jessica Kelly Sousa Ferreira’s (English language) development work title was “Student-driven approach: the innovation of student monitors and teamwork between teachers and students in using educational applications2.
The development project was an English language learning project, including mobile devices and digital learning solutions, social studies and cultural awareness. The students established a digimentor network to support students and teachers in mobile learning in the school community. The video “Tutorial Aplicativo Hello English” is an example of student-made tutorials for teachers on how to use learning applications in supporting teaching and studying. One of the thematic areas, where mobile devices and digital learning were implemented, was gender equality. In this theme, the students, according to the elements of problem-based learning, problematized and inquired gender equality and the reality of Brazilian women, emphasising the importance of women and women’s right in the city, society and in national and global reality (see photos 5 and 6).
Jessica Kelly Sousa Ferreira describes the development project as follows:
“This work aims to establish the use of mobile devices as auxiliary elements of the teaching and learning process, potentializing and innovating the pedagogical practice of teachers and corroborating with significant learning for the students. Based on the assumptions that students themselves know and dominate most of information and communication technologies (ICT), and can act as teachers’ instructors/monitors to know and use some resources and educational applications related to teaching and learning processes. Therefore, we seek to treat teachers and students as partners and mutual constructors of knowledge regarding the use of the technology here established, through differentiated activities that make effective the student-driven approach, stimulate the discovery and valorization of competences, teamwork, playful proposals, innovation, creativity and autonomy. My development work involved about sixty students, but the other actions were done in all my classrooms, as the use of cell phones and teamwork. My students were in the first, second and third year of high school (13–18 years old) Escola Estadual de Ensino Fundamental e Médio Otávia Silveira.” (Corado et al. 2017, 57.)
The prominent characteristics in the development project described above according to the analysis Brazilian and Finnish researchers, students and their initiatives in the focus of the learning process, active and engaging, inquiry-based learning methods and innovative ideas of a school serving and valorizing the community.
According to the analysis of Brazilian and Finnish researchers, the prominent characteristics of the development project were: 1) students and their initiatives were in the focus of the learning process, 2) teachers implemented active and engaging, inquiry-based learning methods and 3) development projects offered innovative ideas for serving and valorizing the community.
5.4 The continuation of pedagogical development
According to the in-depth focus-group interview, Gira Mundo Finlândia programme participants had continued their pedagogical development work actively generating several new learning projects and experiments. The main source of motivation to continue pedagogical development, as well as the most important impact of the GMF programme, was the change in students’ motivation and commitment:
“The development of protagonism in my classes may have been the greatest fruit of my work in the GMF. They stopped acting passively and started to get the information and build the knowledge with what they had at hand.”
“Everything has changed in my work. As a professional, I have been much more motivated and have been looking for more skills in my area to develop methodologies that fit our teaching reality. I am no longer adept only to traditional teaching, I try to still insert real themes and digital media in my classes.”
“The students began to see the English more as a necessary language to their lives and they are using digital media more collaboratively and autonomously to do activities.”
“The experience gained from GMF had changed my class from conceptual to behavioral. I even worked less, since I could get my students to take the initiative in their studies.”
“The continuation of my development work does not only include actions linked to a specific project, but to the changes and paradigm breaks that I try to promote day by day in my classes and in the daily life of my school, using the resources that are available, the environments of the school (not only classroom) as potentiators of the teaching and learning processes, discussion, debates and problematization about current problems.”
Teachers stated that they face many challenges and problems in their development, but they also solve the problems in collaboration with other teachers, in a network of teachers. For example, when facing a lack of technical resources in implementing mobile learning, teachers had, for instance, founded the principle of BYOD (bring your own devices) in a school and organized learning groups over classes so that the groups of students use devices in learning, and all students have access to a learning application.
Accordingly, when they faced the concerns and doubts from other teachers in their schools in implementing new pedagogical practices, they organized teacher in-service training with other teacher developers from GMF and involved their colleagues in the processes step by step. They shared their knowledge and materials, promoted openness and dialogue in their schools and started cooperative learning projects with their colleagues.
They had adapted and further developed the student-centred approach to their sociocultural reality for meeting the needs of Brazilian students, reaching the goals and competences of curriculum and Paraíban strategy for education.
So, another important source of motivation in their work was the network of teachers with the GMF programme, in which they could share their challenges and successes, receive collegial support, and create new knowledge to learning and teaching in their own socio-cultural context. One may consider that problem solving in teachers’ networks seems to offer the mediating process for the integration of different expert knowledge of teachers, theoretical, practical and socio-cultural. (Tynjälä 2014.) Accordingly, Bereiter and Scardamalia (1993, 66) stress that formal or theoretical knowledge is transformed into an expert’s flexible informal knowledge when used for solving practical problems (see also Heikkinen et al. 2011, 2012; Tynjälä 2008).
Also previous research on transnational teacher education between Finland and Brazil has revealed the importance of creation of networked expertise of teachers and its impact on pedagogical change (see in Ryymin, Kunnari, & D’Andrea 2016).
Teachers had also integrated research perspectives to their work and many of them are now conducting academic and doctoral research, writing articles and joining in national and international conferences of education. Additionally, teachers’ work in pedagogical development has initiated new and unexpected research projects as spin-offs of the programme. One interesting example is an on-going multidisciplinary research on teacher Izabelly Dutra Fernandes’ students’ innovation of an efficient mosquito trap; it is now a research interest of Brazilian scientists.
Finally, a very important and meaningful reason for Gira Mundo Finlândia programme participants to continue their pedagogical development is the possibility to serve their community and society, and build thereby education and societal well-being in Paraíba:
“I really believe that GMF programme is modifying positively the education of Paraíba. We have many good actions and empowered teachers working in many different realities, changing and innovating the classes through what we learn on Finland. I really think that these actions need to be socialized so that people know the gradual change that Paraíba education is living.”
”I intend to enrich my academic career so that my knowledge is able to add to a more just and egalitarian society, not only in the educational field, but also in the field of humanity and ability to look at the needs of the other.”
“In the near future, I hope that if the whole school is more united to have more concrete results and in the long term I believe our projects can be references of works that work in Brazilian education.”
“Probably, the main outcome is having more relevance at the Paraíba educational scenery, I feel myself as part of the main stream of nowadays changes in education in the Paraíba.”
6. Conclusions and discussion
The pedagogical goals of teachers participating in the pilot programme of GMF related strongly to paradigm shift from teacher-centred to student-driven learning. Teachers wished to find tools for student motivation and commitment. Accordingly, the motivated and committed students was the most important source of motivation to the programme participants to continue the development work after completing the programme, and that was also considered as the most important impact of their development work within the programme.
In implementing the development projects teachers found pedagogical guidance and support important, as well as the network of teachers. In disseminating and consolidating pedagogical development in the long-term, the Brazilian network of teachers is crucial. The network of teachers offer theoretical and practical knowledge and resources to solve challenges that occur in development work in the teachers’ own learning and working environments.
The development projects descriptions concretized and conceptualized the pedagogical change; they represent the commitment and motivation of students and make explicit the importance of serving the community; students, teachers and schools are important for the community; it is a learning and living context and valorised in project description.
The context of GMF is challenging; transnational education in collaboration between Finland and Brazil seeking for pedagogical development in the Brazilian context. However, the strength of the programme is collaboration and co-creation of Brazilian and Finnish teacher educators and researchers; the socio-cultural knowledge and knowledge of the Paraíban context, as well as commitment to strategy and vision of Paraíba makes GMF a promising initiative. As stated by Alam et al. (2013, 873), it is transnational education that helps to develop local skills.
The programme is currently on its third phase; the second study group of teacher students is soon closing their Brazilian section and the third cohort is studying in Finland in an intensive two-month period. The Brazilian and Finnish teacher educators and researchers work towards building an even more sustainable network for Paraíban education. The project has also been presented to an international community of educators in order to receive feedback and critical ideas for future actions (see D’Andrea, Ouverney-King, Medeiros, Kunnari, & Ryymin 2018; D’Andrea, Ouverney-King, & Medeiros 2018; D’Andrea, Ouverney-King, Medeiros, & Ryymin 2017; Ryymin, D’Andrea, & Ouverney-King 2017).
The limitation of this study is related to its case-study nature; instead of generalization of knowledge, the goal was to understand one pilot programme in-depth. In future, it is important to expand research interest concerning the programme and its context. For example, what are the indicators for quality teacher education in a transnational context? How to research and measure the social effectiveness of educational interventions? How to transform practice-based research into transnational capacity building?
Essi Ryymin works as a R&D Manager and Principal Lecturer at Häme University of Applied Sciences, School of Professional Teacher Education. She is interested in transnational education, digitalisation and future work skills.
Alexandre Fonseca D’Andrea works as a Teacher and Research Manager at Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology of Paraíba. He is interested in international cooperation, institutional development, 21st century skills and environmental research.
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