News 2022

Enhancing the effectiveness of student guidance at the University of Lapland – Study psychologist services and MyTeacher model to be offered this year


Student guidance and support a key theme of the Well-being and Guidance Services in 2022.

Implementation of student well-being and guidance as well as student support services have been subject to scrutiny by the University during the past year. This kind of rethinking is necessary not only due to the changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, but also regarding the development of LUC Services and introduction of the MyTeacher model for teacher tutoring. The new study data service of the Lapland University Community, Peppi, and the real-time remote teaching system using Zoom and Kaltura, which will be adopted this spring, also require our attention.

- It has been necessary to examine our well-being and guidance services as a whole and seek and envision solutions for implementing practices both in the pandemic situation and in the post-COVID-19 world. Our strategic development programmes Study+ and Work+ have provided a basis for the measures planned, describes Satu Uusiautti, Vice-Rector for Education.

Student guidance and support has emerged as a key theme to be addressed this year. Among the most relevant areas to be developed are the MyTeacher model, development work conducted within projects, including those that have received a special grant from the Ministry of Education and Culture, and well-being and support services.

MyTeacher model brings consistency to teacher tutoring

At the beginning of 2021, the Teaching Management and Development Committee set out to examine the implementation of teacher tutoring on the basis of the feedback received from students and teachers. The work proceeded by comparing the current practices of the faculties, benchmarking with other universities, and organising workshops with representatives of students, Heads of Study Affairs, and the Teaching Management and Development Committee. Through consideration of different possible approaches, the model was refined throughout the year. The model was presented to the Strategic Management Team in early 2022 and it was adopted after the Rector’s decision.

The purpose of the model is to lay a shared foundation for teacher tutoring activities at the University of Lapland. It provides a basis for developing guidance and further defines MyTeacher’s role as it relates to other guidance services. The annual student feedback has highlighted the need for personal guidance, and the MyTeacher model seeks to respond to this need by emphasising individual guidance.

- We noticed that the current practices of the faculties are different, and we set out to work towards greater structural consistency and shared goals for guidance provided by teachers. We decided to move towards discipline-specific guidance, and we hope that this will make the guidance tasks more approachable for the teachers involved, says Vice-dean Juha Himanka.

The MyTeacher model will be adopted in 2022 so that when the new work planning period begins, a designated space for planning MyTeacher’s work hours will be available in the Kompassi system. The model also takes faculty-specific differences and requirements into consideration. Guidance activities may be scheduled to take place at different points of the study path, depending on what is appropriate to the discipline. Also, the study programmes have different numbers of students, and the model has not specified the number of students each MyTeacher will provide guidance to.

-The title MyTeacher is designed to bring the teacher providing guidance closer to the student, and it also brings clarity to the roles of teacher tutor and student tutor. I hope that the model represents a step towards uniform quality of guidance activities and will be integrated with the other forms of guidance offered at the university, says Krista Perälä, Chair of the Board of the Student Union (LYY).

Vice-deans for teaching will present the MyTeacher model to the faculties during the spring. Feedback will be collected on using the model, and on the basis of the feedback received, the model will be assessed and developed further.

A Positive Boost through Special Grants and Projects

The well-being and guidance offerings are complemented by various development projects, many of which will be implemented in collaboration with student associations or the Lapland UAS. For example, the special grant from the Ministry of Education and Culture for the period 1 January 2022 to 30 June 2023 is directed at enhancing the sense of community and well-being among students by organising events and providing strengths-based guidance. The particular focus will be on student integration into the university community, fostering a sense of community, and helping those students who have not made sufficient progress in the early phases of their studies by supporting their well-being and study progress through using e.g. strengths-based guidance tools (see also In addition, the VAHTO-project features training of counsellors and peer instructors, as well as implementation of good practices. Development of student-led activities plays an important role in the project as well.

- We planned the project in collaboration with the University of Lapland and the Lapland UAS, putting student needs as a priority and working with a broad conception of well-being. The Student Unions LYY and ROTKO contribute to the content of the Wellness pass and sports activities as well as other recreational activities that foster a sense of community; promote accessibility particularly through digital solutions; raise awareness of the significance of coping skills and well-being in student life; and arrange diverse student events and prepare event guidelines, says Antti Eteläaho, Adviser of Educational and Social Affairs of the Student Union (LYY).

Similarly, the Higher Education Student’s Digital Skills+ project, which is funded by European Social Fund (ESF), is intended for producing a comprehensive set of tools to use on an ongoing basis to support study progress and student well-being. One clear advantage of the projects undertaken in collaboration with guidance and teaching staff and students is that the project results find practical applications in everyday life. Also, links are established between large-scale projects conducted at the LUC level, as has been the case with using the materials produced in the Strengths-Based Future Guidance (VAHTO) project in the project funded by the special grant from the Ministry of Education and Culture.

Structuring the University’s Well-Being Services

In the context of student guidance, the efforts of MyTeachers and student tutors, Heads of Study Affairs at the LUC Teaching and Learning Services, Student Administration, Internationalisation Services, Career and Recruitment Services and University Social Workers contribute to the well-being and guidance offerings.

- Using these services in combination enables guidance to be directed precisely where it is needed along each student’s learning path. The special grant from the Ministry of Education and Culture allows us to recruit a counsellor this spring on a fixed-term basis to provide support to students in study planning and to develop the planning activities, describes Service Director Merija Timonen.

Additional resources for guidance also enable the university social workers to focus on supporting student well-being instead of providing students with guidance on pursuing their study goals.

During the spring, the University will purchase study psychologist services from various providers to support student well-being. The Student Union of the University of Lapland and the Student Union of the Lapland UAS have defined the content of the study psychologist services that are needed. The identified service needs highlight issues such as student self-esteem, study motivation, identifying learning difficulties and receiving the necessary support with them, and challenges related to the thesis process and traineeships.

Ongoing development efforts are important as well. The strategic Work+ development programme started in 2021 with conducting an assessment on the current state of student and staff well-being and defining a framework for it. The work continues in 2022 with the objective of creating and implementing various offerings to foster long-term well-being.

Further information:

Satu Uusiautti
Vice-Rector for Education
+358 40 484 4150

Merija Timonen
Support Services for Learning and Students
+358 40 7777 352

Krista Perälä
Chair of the Board (LYY)
+358 45 137 9026

Antti Eteläaho
Adviser of Educational and Social Affairs (LYY)
+358 45 138 4190