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A Comparative Analysis of Teaching Methods at Diak, HUSC, VID and SXC

Pictures for daily structure hung up on the classroom board,

What kind of similarities and differences exist among teaching methods used by universities in delivering the social services and social work bachelor’s degree programs?

This was the question on which we worked during our internship with the DVINE project in the autumn of 2021. The analysis was done based on the curricula of universities and interviews with teachers and students from each university.

The comparative analysis study included four universities that are in partnership with the DVINE project, Diakonia University of Applied Sciences (Diak) Finland, VID Specialized University (VID) Norway, Hue University of Sciences (HUSC) Vietnam, and St. Xavier’s College (SXC), affiliated with Tribhuvan University, Nepal.

Data collection

Data collection for the comparative analysis study was done using different qualitative methods.  Pedagogical principles were used to categorise the areas of the curriculum for comparison, and tables were used to collect the relevant information. The categories used were:

  • Basis of the curriculum
  • Aspects of the student-centred approach
  • Orientation – workplace, research-based, experiential, and case approach
  • Metaphors of learning – knowledge acquisition, participation, and knowledge creation
  • Learning design

Similarities in teaching methods

We found quite a lot of similarities in teaching methods. All the universities emphasised groupwork with other students, individual study, and active participation in discussions.

All the universities have fieldwork practice placements. Thesis or a research paper is submitted at the end of studies. There are also case studies in all the universities.

Students’ participation is prioritised in all the universities. Group studies and the common creation of knowledge is also prioritised. Teachers share their ideas, and students also add their perspectives and can them in class. Evidence-based practice is highlighted.

There are also many common features in the learning design of the reviewed universities. All of them use online learning, lectures, seminars, groupwork, individual assignments, and exams. Opportunities for student exchange, practical training, field visits/fieldwork, and skills training are available for students. Oral presentations and roleplay are also included in studies.

Differences in teaching methods

However, there are also differences between the analysed universities. For example, the implementation of practical placements varied from university to university.

For example, at Diak, there are three practical placements, lasting 160, 479, and 479 hours. At VID, there are practical placements in the first and second year, lasting 60 hours (18 weeks).

At SXC, there are two days of field placement and four days of theoretical class in the week. At HUSC, theoretical studies are done first, followed by a practical placement. Theory accounts for 60% and practice 40% of the total time allocated for each course.

Diak and VID use flipped classroom pedagogy. At Diak, students are responsible for finding their own placements, and students learn at their own pace. At VID, students are involved in the design of the study plan. At HUSC, students are asked at the beginning of the school year what they want to study.

SXC has a practice placement every week, while Diak has three mandatory practical placements and offers the possibility of a student exchange abroad.

VID university seems to focus more on laws and legal entities in learning, as its course includes Human Rights, Conventions and central legislation, Inclusion, and Equality and non-discrimination. VID University’s curriculum also includes roleplays.

From the learning design perspective, Diak has individual online discussions. SXC uses a problem-base, inquiry-based, project-based skills lab. HUSC offers skills training.

Importance of practical learning

To summarise, all the universities stressed the importance of practical learning (exercises, practice placements, groupwork, and so on). This is understandable, because the students are learning practical professions.

Major differences included the different stress given to practice placement (VID had the lowest number of placements, while only SXC mixed theory and practice in studies, and only VID and Diak used flipped learning). VID’s curriculum seems to stress theoretical knowledge most.

Text: Monique Arcoven, Quan Cung, and Ashmita Rijal