In the spring of 2015, the Intensive Project in Quantitative Research took place and involved cooperation and coordination between two universities: Metropolia Business School and Dokuz Eylül University in Turkey. This project was first organized in 2012 and this is the second time it has been carried out. The intensive week was organized in İzmir, Turkey. Like previously, Pertti “Pepe” Vilpas was involved in this project. Vilpas teaches statistics, business mathematics and quantitative research on the business side in both English and Finnish. Pepe went on Erasmus teacher exchange for this project, which also included 5 students from Metropolia Business School. These students were primarily chosen from the Finnish degree program but one student from International Business and Logistics was included as well. The prerequisites included English language skills in addition to a background in statistical and quantitative studies. In general, this was not really a distance project, as it was primarily organized in Turkey. However, students had to research the topic prior to the intensive week.
The basic idea behind the project was incorporating quantitative research with multicultural teamwork. Naturally, the main topic was based on quantitative research, of which students were expected to have sufficient knowledge prior to the project. From the pedagogical perspective, there was less lecturing and more active learning, in the form of teamwork in smaller groups. This teamwork also had a multicultural aspect, as students from Finland and Turkey were working together on topics within the scope of quantitative research. In practice this included conducting surveys and statistical analyses in addition to giving presentations. All of these elements formed the main structure of the intensive week. First there was a short introduction to the general topic, after which students started to work together in small groups on a more specific topic. Finally, the main findings were presented to others. Therefore the basic structure of the intensive week in Turkey was quite similar to intensive weeks organized by Metropolia Business School, only with less emphasis on lecturing.
During the intensive week and the project in general, there were not any major cultural challenges despite the multicultural aspect. Nevertheless, some challenges concerning technology were faced, as there were problems with the Internet and SPSS essentially refused to cooperate. Besides these minor issues, there actually were not any significant challenges, either this spring or the first time around.
According to Pepe, the best aspect of this project was the international touch. From a lecturer’s perspective, this kind of project definitely comprised true international cooperation and Pepe enjoyed teaching together with the Turkish lecturer. From a student’s perspective, the best feature of the project was most likely studying in another kind of cultural environment and the chance of getting to know another kind of educational atmosphere. These are presumably the primary reasons that are worth going abroad for or being involved in a multicultural project in the first place. Another benefit for both students and lecturers was getting to know the culture from a more local and authentic standpoint. To elaborate, this project by nature acquainted the MBS team with the Turkish culture a lot better than, for instance, a vacation ever possibly could.
One key objective of the project was to increase the volume of student and teaching staff mobility and strengthen the cooperation between partners through networking. The main accomplishments of the project include acquiring new cultural perspectives and gaining experience in teamwork within a multicultural class environment. From the academic perspective, students will receive 3 ECTS and are required to write a report on the intensive week in Turkey. In addition, this kind of international project unquestionably enriches basic student life and it goes without saying that it offers a great learning experience. Furthermore, another key accomplishment of this project was the fact that it was completed successfully with no major problems, signifying that this is a concept that clearly works.
According to Pepe, the main message of the Intensive Project in Quantitative Research is that these kinds of projects should be arranged, especially in the Liiketalous degree programme, as not all of those students are able to go on exchange for a long period of time. There have been other short student exchange projects, for instance, in finance. In order for such projects to continue, a certain amount of financial aid is also required. In this case, the students got some financial support from Metropolia, so that they did not have to pay for everything. To ensure the continuity of international projects, it is therefore vital to have access to such grants and financial aid in the future as well.
This project began in 2012, and this is the second time it has been put into practice. Leon University from Spain has been involved earlier and in the future might take an active role again. The scope of the project will stay most likely relatively small, as the small group size enables good interaction and everyone gets to know each other a lot better.
To hear more about the practical side of the project come back to the blog next Monday, when we’ll publish Anna Adel’s text about her experiences of travelling to Turkey and being a part of this project. Until next week!
Mia E. Varis and Helena Ikonen