University of Oulu

Professional and organisational learning in a transnational community of practice : case study in a Finnish-Armenian higher education context

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Author: Törmänen, Esa1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Education, Department of Educational Sciences and Teacher Education, Educational Sciences
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.3 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Oulu : E. Törmänen, 2015
Publish Date: 2015-04-13
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Roberts, Gordon
Reviewer: Roberts, Gordon
Karikoski, Hannele
Räsänen, Rauni
The original motive for writing this master’s thesis stems from the numerous questions and challenges that the author has encountered as a member of different professional teams operating in cross-cultural contexts. This thesis is a case study of a transnational cooperation project between the Armenia State Pedagogical University (ASPU) and the University of Oulu Faculty of Education (Oulu FE), in which the primary aim was to develop high-quality, research-based teacher education in Armenia. This qualitative study examines the ASPU — Oulu FE cooperation project from a learning-oriented perspective to understand and describe the different aspects and processes of professional and organisational learning in the Armenian-Finnish higher education (HE) context. The following research questions have been used to explore the challenges and opportunities of learning in geographically and culturally fragmented professional teams: — What have the project participants and their respective organisations learned during the cooperation project? (central research question) — What kinds of conditions promote/hinder learning in a transnational learning community according to the project participants? (central research question) — What are the key benefits and challenges of learning in a cross-cultural context according to the project participants? (sub-question) — What kind of development ideas accumulated during the cooperation project? (sub-question) This study also discusses the internationalisation of HE from an uncommon perspective. That is, in this thesis the research focus is on the under-researched relationship between professional and organisational learning, on the infrequently examined concepts of academic professionalism and academic communities of practise, and on the experiences of the ASPU — Oulu FE cooperation project participants as professionals learning at boundaries in an Armenian-Finnish HE context. The study begins with a description on the political and historical research context, in which the internationalisation of higher education is introduced as the overarching contextual umbrella of the study. The theoretical framework will then introduce theoretical perspectives on professional and organisational learning with a special focus on academics, higher education institutions, and the interconnectedness of the individual and organisational learning process. The research process is based on a research methodology known as hermeneutic phenomenology, and the research data, collected primarily from interviews with the cooperation project participants, is analysed by combining research method elements from qualitative case study and theory-guided content analysis. The research findings show that cross-cultural cooperation projects based on the Bologna Process framework can offer unique learning opportunities for the academics and their respective organizations. In the ASPU — Oulu FE cooperation project both parties were ultimately teachers and learners in a transnational context, where cooperation was built on the existing preconditions, resources and strengths of the respective organisations. When examining the research findings as the learning outcomes of an academic community of practice learning at boundaries, the project generated both reflective and transformative learning outcomes. There were reflective learning outcomes which enabled the project organisations and project participants to look differently at their current ways of working by learning from another type of practice. There were also transformative learning outcomes which lead to changes in the existing practices and thought patterns as a result of embracing and applying the ideas of another type of practice. The author believes that this thesis includes both intriguing openings for further research and research findings which are beneficial when planning transnational cooperation projects in the HE context.
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Copyright information: © Esa Törmänen, 2015. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.