The Department of Nursing Science at the University of Eastern Finland has been able to work as part of the international Erasmus+ funded project New Agenda for Nurse Educator Education in Europe.  The project is coordinated by the University of Turku, Department of Nursing Science and the project is implemented in collaboration between five countries and six universities: the University of Eastern Finland from Finland, the University of Malta from Malta, the University of Edinburgh from Scotland, Konstantine the Philosofer University in Nitra from Slovakia and the Universitat Internacional de Catalunya from Spain. The aim of this project is to take the first steps in harmonizing the nurse educator education within Europe. The project includes various research, development and education related activities; for example, research of nurse educator education and continuous education needs of nurse educators, the handbook of nurse educator, and by 30 ECTS transnational study programme for nurse educator and educator candidates. The study programme includes study units from current and future global health issues and education, competence in digital pedagogy and digital learning environments, ethics in nursing education and evidence-based teaching. During this study programme, the usability of the study program and the learning outcomes are evaluated.

Project meeting in October 2021 at the University of Turku. Picture: Anna Mäkinen.

This spring 2022, the University of Eastern Finland was leading the Evidence-based Teaching (EBT) study unit. Evidence-based activities in teaching refer to the best possible evidence used in teaching, such as making the best use of research data. In this case, evidence-based activities relate to all teaching activities, including the curriculum work as well as the teaching and learning process itself (objectives, content, methods and evaluation). Teaching staff must also take into account legislation related to teaching activities, learning concepts, the perceptions of the subject being taught, such as health and health promotion, etc. Activities should take into account, among other things, the level of the student, the resources available and the possibilities of the learning environment, without forgetting the motivation of the staff and the factors involved. (Masters, 2018; Oermann, 2021.)

MHSc Project Researcher Anneli Vauhkonen, MHSc, University Teacher Juha Pajari and PhD, Professor Terhi Saaranen from UEF Department of Nursing Science were responsible for the planning, implementation and evaluation of the EBT study unit. The EBT study unit consisted of an online implementation, two webinars and a teacher training week with 25 students from six countries (Germany, Slovakia, Finland, Spain, Scotland and Malta). During the first week of April, students undertook the teaching placement as planned in these previously mentioned countries. The teacher training week arrangement had many challenges and precautions because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the prevailing war situation in Ukraine. For these reasons seven of the students participated remotely and 18 were able to collaborate face-to-face and change good practices between participating countries. Our university had four students during the teacher training week, one attending remotely and three physically present. In addition to teaching training events in UEF and Savonia University of Applied Sciences (UAS), the training week at UEF included visits and information sessions e.g. Savonia UAS and The Centre for Continuous Learning at UEF and Kuopio University Hospital. In addition to the official programme, we got to know the city of Kuopio and its beautiful nature, for example by visiting the winter scenery of Puijo and admiring the views from the Puijo observation tower!

Picture from The Centre for Continuous Learning at UEF.

Students from many different stages of their career participated in the study unit. For some, the teacher training provided the first teaching experience while others had worked as a nurse educator for a long time. The course was experienced as quite challenging, but at the same time useful. International cooperation and international contacts during the teacher training week were experienced positive. In the future, the Evidence-based Teaching study unit will be part of the optional studies at the University of Eastern Finland. In addition, after the Erasmus+ project, the entire structure of the 30 ECTS study programme will be freely utilized in all countries.

Picture from Puijo tower.

Educators’ national and international cooperation also provide opportunities for the development of their own teaching. International visitors brought new development perspectives and opportunities for our own teaching work. Developing and implementing the EBT study unit deepened our knowledge and experience of evidence-based teaching. Similar national and international learning, networking and evidence-based teaching are in the courses organized by the Finnish Doctoral Education Network in Nursing Science (HoVaTo). Joint development in the discipline of nursing science ensures high-quality and successful research work and evidence-based teaching now and in the future.

Terhi Saaranen, Professor, University of Eastern Finland, Department of Nursing Science

Anneli Vauhkonen, MHSc, Project researcher, Doctoral researcher, University of Eastern Finland, Department of Nursing Science

Masters, G. (2018). The role of evidence in teaching and learning. Research Conference 2018, Australian Council for Educational Research, 3–5.

Oermann, M. (2021). Evidence-Based Teaching in Nursing. In Oermann, M., De Gagne, J., & Phillips, B (Eds.), Teaching in nursing and role of the educator: the complete guide to best practice in teaching, evaluation, and curriculum (3rd ed., pp. 377–394). Springer.