Finnish teacher education students’ practical training and exchange in developing countries

In Finland, the participation rate of teacher education students in international mobility is low when compared to students in other faculties. The same tendency applies to teacher education students in other Nordic and European countries. Moreover, the number of teacher education students from Europe seeking mobility to developing countries is very small.

In this study we examined the factors which support or hinder teacher education students’ mobility both in general, and to developing countries in particular. The target groups selected for the web questionnaires and interviews were teacher education students from nine different universities (Helsinki, Eastern Finland, Jyväskylä, Lapland, Oulu, Tampere, Turku, Åbo Akademi and Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences), and international student mobility coordinators in these universities. The student response rate was high (n = 698) and 12 of the respondents were also interviewed. Nine international mobility coordinators responded to the questionnaire and eight of them were interviewed.

Four significant factors were found to influence student mobility: 1) Prevailing educational policy and societal circumstances; 2) Schools (as future work contexts); 3) Actions taken by the universities responsible for teacher education; 4) Teacher education students’ personal views, experiences, and opinions regarding studies or internship periods abroad. The students highlighted the significance of the personal learning experience as the key motivating factor. Almost all the students felt that their teaching expertise had improved as a result of the international experience. Factors hindering mobility included the fear of international mobility delaying graduation, the specialisation requirement, the desire to conduct all studies in Finland, uncertainty about whether studies undertaken abroad are admissible to Finnish degrees, the lack of information and support regarding studying abroad, family-related factors, the fear of not coping well abroad and inadequate language skills, and issues related to security.

The recommendations for the government and the universities providing teacher education emphasize a positive approach to international student mobility, highlighting new learning experiences. For teacher students themselves the main motive for studying or training abroad is personal growth.

The report in English

Finnish teacher education students’ practical training and exchange in developing countries: a commissioned study for the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs(Link to another website.)