Tip of the Week 12/2023

How to Measure Student Workload in Your Course

Have you ever received student feedback with comments that your course included “too much work”? How much is too much? What kind of assignments and tasks would equal the amount of work required for example in a course of 4 credit points (a total of 108 hours of work)?

You can calculate an estimate of how much work each type of learning task will take by using some of the available workload calculators, such as the UEF’s or Fitech’s. Naturally there are elements not covered in these calculators to take into consideration, too. Nevertheless, these calculators will give you a rough idea of the average workload for students with each assignment type you use in your course:

Below, a screenshot of the UEF “Mitta-peruslaskuri” in English, and a screenshot of the page 6 of Fitech’s Learning Design Toolkit: Workload Estimation.

A screenshot of the UEF Mitta-peruslaskuri.
A screenshot of Fitech’s Learning Design Toolkit, page 6: Workload Estimation.

Tip of the Week 10/2023

“Pedagogy of Kindness” instead of “Pedagogy of Punishment”

This tip was also published in English in the Finnish language version of the site.

In the midst of the current, even heated discussions regarding Open AI’s ChatGPT and all other artificial intelligence writing and translation tools and how they may influence our work as teachers, why not focus on the human side of learning and teaching.

Learning is about interaction, as most pedagogy experts would put it. And what is interaction? Interaction is about encounters, about meeting one another, about being present to one another when exchanging thoughts, ideas, reflections, uncertainties, queries, questions. Interaction is also about very sensitive moments in which hopes and fears may be touched upon.

Having said that, why is it then that we very often make our first meetings with the participants of our courses sound like all we do is go for punishments, in the style of “…if you do this or that, you will suffer”? Have you ever checked the kind of language you use in your course introductions? Are you dedicating a lot of time and space discussing “punishments”, so to say? Have you ever wondered what your word choices and language choices, such as excessive use of imperative (“Do this/Do that/Don’t do this/Don’t do that”), may do to the learning process and the learning outcomes?

Enter Pedagogy of Kindness. Catherine Denial, a Professor of History who has written about Pedagogy of Kindness and is currently working on a book on the same topic, describes it this way:

“[K]indness as pedagogical practice is not about sacrificing myself, or about taking on more emotional labor. It has simplified my teaching, not complicated it, and it’s not about niceness. Direct, honest conversations, for instance, are often tough, not nice. But the kindness offered by honesty challenges both myself and my students to grow. ”

OneHE, a website that offers resources, courses, and community discussions for higher education teachers, is organising a webinar with Catherine Denial on March 15, 2023, late evening in the Finnish time zone.  Join the Pedagogy of Kindness: Compassion toward the Self webinar to hear about what colleagues in other locations around the world think about the topic.

OneHE is a payable website but it offers a free trial period to new users. I warmly recommend making the most of their free trial. Check out Catherine Denial’s short course on Pedagogy of Kindness, too. You may discover that there is a whole array of other interesting resources and short courses on the website! (And no, they have not paid me to advertise them…)

Kind regards,


Tip of the Week 10/2022

A moment for reflection: Patterns

This tip was also published in English in the Finnish language version of the site.

180 Studio + Eckenhoff Saunders. (2020). Seed + Spark. Using Nature as a Model to Reimagine How we Learn and Live. A Collaborative Design Project. 180 Press.

”The information that comes from deep in the evolutionary past, we call genetics. The information revealed thousands of years ago, we call religion. The information passed along from hundreds of years ago, we call culture. The information passed along from decades ago, we call family, and the information offered years, months, days, or hours ago, we call education and advice.” (David Brooks, quoted on p. 224, Seed + Spark.)

We work in the field of education and advice, guidance. Education is about people, about interaction. In that sense, education is a living system that we all participate in and contribute to, all the time. Any living system is a network of patterns; patterns of relationships, patterns of human behaviour, patterns of structuring information. If indeed any living system is a network of patterns, to understand it, we need to learn to see the patterns. So what exactly are the patterns we are looking for?

”Our brains are naturally pattern seeking and sense making. The ability to recognize and formulate patterns is essential to deep understanding because patterns are essential to meaning construction.” (Stephanie Pace Marshall, quoted on p. 220, Seed + Spark)

My questions to myself today: What patterns should I learn to see in my habits, in my ways of thinking about my profession and my professional identity, in my teaching praxis, the ways in which I work and think about my work? Are these patterns something to hold on to and nurture, or something to let go? What new patterns are emerging – what new networks of patterns are emergent (that is, becoming, being formed)? How could I participate in and contribute to these emergent patterns within my community of work?

”There is always enough time for the right work.” (adrienne maree brown, 2017, Emergent Strategy, p. 41.)

Susanna K.

Tip of the week 1/21

A Refreshing Podcast by Columbia University TLC

Time to reflect and challenge what you believe about teaching and learning!

A refreshing podcast by the Teaching and Learning Center of Columbia University in the City of New York.

“Welcome to Dead Ideas in Teaching and Learning, a new podcast hosted by CTL Executive Director, Catherine Ross. Our mission is to encourage instructors, students, and leaders in higher education to reflect on what they believe about teaching and learning. In each episode, guests are invited to share their discoveries of “dead ideas”—ideas that are not true but that are often widely believed and embedded in the pedagogical choices we make.

Conversations focus on dead ideas in topics such as grading, teaching with technology, student motivation, assessment, and neuromyths about learning, to name a few.”