Teaching and supervision

Teaching and supervision experience in graduate and doctoral studies

Table 1 lists all the courses I have taught. I started my teaching career at the Finnish University Network for Tourism Studies (FUNTS). For five years I taught two classes there: E-business in Tourism and quantitative half of Practices in Tourism Research. They were both 5 ECTS subject level courses with 10-20 students each year.

After FUNTS funding was cut, University of Eastern Finland Business School started an International Master’s Degree Programme in Tourism Marketing and Management and assigned me to manage the programme. I am also teaching five courses in the programme: Introduction to Tourism Studies, Introduction to Tourism Marketing and Management, Information and Communication Technologies in Tourism Business, Destination Marketing, and Practical Tourism Research.

I have also taught courses in Universities of Applied Sciences in Savonia and XAMK. These guest courses have given me a good idea on teaching in universities of applied sciences.

Table 1. Courses taught by Juho Pesonen

Course name ECTS Language Level Organization Time period
Practices in Tourism Research 5 Finnish Intermediate Finnish University Network for Tourism Studies Five times 2011-2016
E-business in Tourism 5 Finnish/English Intermediate Finnish University Network for Tourism Studies Five times 2011-2016
Matkailu- ja ravitsemispalveluiden sähköisen liiketoiminnan kehittäminen 5 Finnish Master South-Eastern University of Applied Sciences Three times, 2016-2018
Introduction to Tourism Studies 5 English Beginner University of Eastern Finland Two times, 2017-
Digital business in tourism 5 Finnish Master Savonia University of Applied Science Once in 2015
Introduction to Tourism Marketing and Management 5 English Master University of Eastern Finland Twice, 2017-2018
Information and Communication Technologies in Tourism Business 6 English Master University of Eastern Finland Twice, 2017-2018
Destination Marketing 6 English Master University of Eastern Finland Twice, 2017-2018
Practical Tourism Research 5 English Master University of Eastern Finland Twice, 2017-2018

Besides these, one of the biggest teaching experiences in my teaching career has been the development of Finnish National e-tourism Curriculum for universities teaching tourism (see http://www.slideshare.net/eppuJ/etourism-curriculum-finland-38530722). As part of the eTourism project at the Centre for Tourism Studies, I have been in charge of developing a workgroup to improve the teaching of e-business in tourism in Finnish universities. The workgroup has been active for over a year now and we have managed to develop the contents of the curriculum to be implemented in Finnish universities teaching tourism. The workgroup consists of more than 30 people from more than a dozen different universities and organizations. The main idea is to create the curriculum and find ways to teach the courses for students of all Finnish universities. Now the eTourismCurriculum has seven Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences (UAS) as members. These universities provide seven virtual courses for their students. The system works really well at this moment with hundreds of study credits completed every year. At the beginning of 2018, I transferred the lead of the programme to XAMK UAS to focus more on my own core activities in research and teaching.

I have also successfully supervised five master level students at the Savonia University of Applied Sciences and XAMK. I am also co-supervising 14 master’s thesis at this moment for Tourism Marketing and Management programme. I also supervise two PhD students with professor Raija Komppula, Johanna Heinonen and Xinxin Guo. Both are studying digital marketing related topics.

Teaching philosophy and ethics and pedagogical education

My main philosophy in teaching is to find ways for students to achieve goals set for knowledge and skills. At university level, I think that lecturers and professors are there to enable students to achieve these goals. I do not believe that I can pour knowledge into the students, but that students have to be active seekers of knowledge. It is up to the lecturer to define what knowledge and skills the students should have and create them pathways to achieve these goals. The lecturer is there to support the learning process and aid the students to achieve the goals.

I have always regarded teaching as the very central part of the university system and of the contribution that universities have on the society. The research we do is aimed at improving what we teach our students, especially in marketing. This philosophy has also guided me in the research I do: I always ask myself if the paper I am writing is something that I or someone else could use in their teaching and if it is good enough to show to my students. I have learned that the students can be a lot more critical than any journal reviewer. The courses I teach are very much connected to the research I do in the field of digital marketing and tourism research.

When I am planning my lectures, assignment and even when I am teaching I try to put myself in the students’ position. I know I am not representative of all the students but it is a starting point for my planning. Students are our customers and we have to provide them with content that creates them value. The best option is when the lecturer and students co-create value. Based on my experience we need to have the right kind of learning environment for that, environment that encourages discussion and thinking. Despite thinking a lot of what the students think, I also keep the learning goals always in mind.

Our Tourism Marketing and Management programme is an excellent presentation of my teaching philosophy. There are several unique attributes in the programme. First of all, we do not have any exams. We think that the way a person studies for an exam is very rarely used in the real world. That is why we have a lot of writing assignments and group presentation. We also collaborate with tourism businesses and provide our students opportunities to apply what they have learned to practice. This application part is quite important for measuring the success of teaching. We tend to build new knowledge and skills on top of earlier knowledge and skills. We do not use books in our courses but use research articles and industry reports as material instead. We also pay attention to soft skills which we think will be important in the careers our students are going to have.

Flipped learning resonates well with my own teaching philosophy. I do not like to lecture to my students but I provide relevant material for them to learn it by themselves. Then when we meet we can discuss most important and most difficult topics. This way each student can study the materials any way they prefer with their own time. This also leads for genuine interest for students to come to the class meetings.

I have two guidelines for developing my teaching: listen to the students and keep your material updated. I have made it as easy as possible for students to provide me with feedback at any stage of the course and try to be active in collecting feedback on all courses. I recognize that courses are teaching materials are never finished. Every year I review all the material and compare them with what I have learned during the past year and update the material accordingly. It is lecturer responsibility to provide the student with relevant material that has practical meaning for their studies. We as teachers should not waste students time just because he or she has to do assignments but everything should be focused on learning. I am very happy at the moment on how the students in my courses learn the topics that I am teaching. Great majority of students on my courses get good grades, not because the assignments are easy but because they have really learned the knowledge and skills set for the course.

One of the ethical aspects of my teaching is the encouragement for critical thinking. I do not tell my students what to think and how but present them ideas for their own evaluation. As a lecturer, I try to be careful not to misuse my position. Even though I try to reduce the power level between teacher and students as much as possible in my courses, I do recognize the power and responsibility that comes with such a position. I always have the same rules for every student and considering all students as equals and as human beings greatly influences the ethics of my teaching. I also try to assess as many assignments as possible as anonymous so that only the content affects the evaluation.

My official pedagogical evaluation is limited to the flipped learning course I did at University of Eastern Finland in 2017-2018. The course was excellent for me as it helped me to put into words and practice my own teaching philosophy and gave my guidelines how to continuously improve my teaching.

Teaching material production and use of educational technologies

Teaching materials are central to the learning process. On the one hand, I am proud of my courses as I have built them myself from nothing. Then, on the other hand, this also means that the courses are never finished and I always find ways to improve them.

After flipped learning course I have started to produce even more learning materials myself. I produce a lot of texts and videos for my courses and also openly share them online. They can be found on my YouTube channel and our Tourism Marketing and Management blog as well as my personal blog.

I am a keen user of educational technologies when they support the learning process. I recognize the possibilities that technology creates for new learning experiences and I am eager to try out different software and applications. I am a solid Moodle platform user, but also able to adopt the use of almost any kind of computer software or application fairly easy. I am often an early adopter of technology. Technology plays a central role in all of my courses.

eTourismCurriculum Finland is also a good example of the use of educational technologies for me. It is an innovative virtual learning platform that works completely online. Only technologies enable this kind of collaboration where teachers do not have to move from where they are nor any party has to pay any kind of payments.

Developing education methods and teaching rewards

I develop my education through two main channels. The first is through student feedback. I am quite sure about the content on my courses, but I like to get a lot of feedback on the education methods and how students find them. This helps me to constantly try out new things and measure how they work as well as polish the things I do not change.

The second is through benchmarking. The main benchmarking method has been our business school pedagogy team that I am a member of. This team has been rewarded on the university level and two of our teachers in the team received great teacher award from our university in 2018. This demonstrates the value of the work we are doing in this team and the team has also been extremely useful for me to hear about the best practices and find out new ideas to try on my own courses.

I am also constantly benchmarking our programme with other international programmes. I know many professors and lecturers from other programmes and try to find opportunities in conferences and seminars to change ideas and best practices.

Participation in teaching evaluation and development

In 2016 I was chosen to represent Finnish universities in Osaamisen ennakointifoorumi (National forum to predict skills required in the future) regarding tourism education. The forum is part of the work that Ministry of education is conducting to predict what kind of education is needed in the future in various fields of our economy. The work is ongoing and will be finished in 2019.

Educational strengths, challenges and visions

I have added the student feedback I collected in December 2018 from the students of my Information Technology in Tourism Business course as appendix to this document (Appendix 1). When looking at the feedback, we can see some of the strengths and development areas regarding my teaching.

First of all one of the strengths that I have is developing such a classroom culture that the students can freely speak their mind. I think this is quite evident from the feedback they give me. The second is that even though the methods and materials are not perfect, they are still great for students to achieve learning goals. The third strength is that I really use this feedback I receive in developing my courses.

When looking at what needs to be developed it all comes down to the time I have. This was the second time the course was organized and the material and methods are still a bit raw. I know that I can fix this by spending more time on the course, but time spent on the course is time away from research. I think I could develop to balance between different parts of my job a little bit better in the future. I also want to develop as feedback giver. As an academic I have noticed that sometimes my feedback is a bit too straightforward and this is also evident from the article reviews I write.

In the future, I want to have a bigger impact in conceptualizing and planning education. Planning and developing the whole Tourism Marketing and Management programme with my colleagues has been rewarding for me. Based on the feedback we have received from our university, from international community, stakeholders, students, advisory board and potential applicants, I think we have done a really exceptional job in conceptualizing this programme. I am more interested in planning education than actually executing it.