The new General Upper Secondary Schools Act, which came into force in August, requires schools to cooperate with universities. As one form for such cooperation, the University of Jyväskylä is offering orientation studies through which the upper secondary school students can get a taste of university studies.

The orientation studies consist of courses worth 2 study credits, to be completed mainly as distance learning. The implementation of the orientation studies at JYU is coordinated by the Open University.

“We provide studies that can be completed flexibly online across the country, which serves regional equity as well as the placement of these studies into the students’ individual schedules,” states Jukka Lerkkanen, the director of the Open University.

Familiar subjects, new perspectives

The offering for the 2019-2020 academic year includes courses in business studies, mathematics, linguistics, chemistry, statistics, philosophy, and sport and health sciences. In addition, the Open University offers two free courses in business studies together with Economy and youth TAT organisation that helps young people develop their skills in economics, working life and entrepreneurship.

“Orientation courses give upper secondary school students better insight into what they would really like to study in the future. For example, those having completed the orientation module for sport and health sciences have told that they were either reassured about their right choice or found a new study line,” University Teacher Henna Haapala tells.

Henna Haapala

Henna Haapala

In the Open University, Haapala teaches a course entitled “Introduction to sport and health sciences,” which gives a comprehensive overview on the dimensions of physical activity and health. The course deals with, among other issues, human physiology and anatomy as well as the educational and societal aspects related to health and physical activities.

“Through one’s own sphere of activities, certain perspectives such as that of coaching may be familiar, but the societal perspective, for example, may be new. Physical activities and health can be instrumental in many fields and used for marketing and political purposes, among others,” Haapala says.

Orientation studies develop academic skills as well

Although university teaching is based on research knowledge, Haapala says that the course on sport and health sciences does not discuss issues on a theoretical level only but the themes are approached through the students’ own experiences.

“The students get a chance to consider their own physical activity and behaviour in view of various health-related recommendations, for example.”

At the same time, the course helps them practise their academic learning skills:

“The students learn summarising and picking up relevant points as well as referencing techniques. An important but by no means a self-evident skill pertains to content-wise distinction between one’s own opinions and references,” Haapala points out.

According to Haapala, the orientative course on sport and health sciences is also useful in preparing for the matriculation examination in health education, because the themes of the course are similar to these school studies – just discussed on a slightly higher level. The knowledge acquired on the university course can help students show their competence and expertise in the matriculation examination. Social and health care students could also benefit from these studies.

Physical activity and health are multidisciplinary themes that are always current.

“These are not meant just for upper secondary school students heading for university. Physical activity and health are multidisciplinary themes that are always current,” Haapala states.

Jukka Lerkkanen, the director of the Open University, hopes that in the future they will be engaged in national higher education cooperation with the vocational sector as well.

“Some of our studies are already regionally available to vocational students through EduFutura collaboration in education. We also want to introduce university more broadly in secondary education, not only in the general upper secondary schools,” Lerkkanen says.

The registration period for orientation studies in the 2019–2020 academic year ends on 8 September 2019.
The new course offering will be published in early spring 2020.

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