Satu Tuomainen


Teaching quality refers to the level of teaching practices, delivery, content and methods and it is often viewed subjectively by various stakeholders in education, including students. The aim of this study, applying a phenomenographic approach, was to replicate a study conducted before the Covid-19 pandemic with master students in Finland. Applying a similar process and participants, the study aimed to explore whether students’ perceptions of teaching quality had altered after the Covid-19 increase in online teaching and learning. Three main themes arose from the interview data: teaching quality as clarity, teaching quality as engagement, and teaching quality as either online teaching or contact teaching. These themes differ from the pre-Covid themes in which teaching quality was associated with pedagogical professionalism, personal qualities of the teacher and the general learning environment. It can be inferred that the increased online modes and environments in higher education in Finland have had an impact on students and what they perceive as teaching quality. Teaching is also increasingly viewed through the personal experiences of the students, both positive and negative, and an emotional reaction to teaching and learning was also evident in the post-Covid data.


Article visualizations:

Hit counter


student perceptions; university teaching; phenomenography; online teaching; higher education

Full Text:



Aimah, S., & Purwanto, B. (2019). Evaluating teachers’ performance: a need for effective teaching. A Journal of Culture, English Language Teaching & Literature, 19(1), 158-170.

Archambault, L., Leary, H., & Rice, K. (2022). Pillars of online pedagogy: a framework for teaching in online learning environments. Educational Psychologist, 57(3), 178-191.

Baier, F., Decker, A. T., Voss, T., Kleickmann, T., Klusmann, U., & Kunter, M. (2019). What makes a good teacher? The relative importance of mathematics teachers’ cognitive ability, personality, knowledge, beliefs, and motivation for instructional quality. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 89(4), 767-786.

Bensimon, E. M. (2007). The underestimated significance of practitioner knowledge in the scholarship on student success. The Review of Higher Education, 30(4), 441-469.

Bergmann, J., & Sams, A. (2014). Flipped learning: gateway to student engagement. International Society for Technology in Education.

Beyth-Marom, R., Saporta, K., & Caspi, A. (2005). Synchronous vs. asynchronous tutorials: factors affecting students’ preferences and choices. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 37(3), 245-262.

Blake, R. J., & Guillén, G. (2020). Brave new digital classroom: technology and foreign language learning (3rd ed.). Georgetown University Press.

Bloom, B. (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives: the classification of educational goals. Handbook 1, Cognitive domains. David McKay.

Bowden, J. A. (2005). Reflections on the phenomenographic team research process. In J. A. Bowden & P. Green (Eds.), Doing developmental phenomenography, pp. 11-31. RMIT University Press.

Brookfield, S. D. (2015). The skilful teacher: on technique, trust, and responsiveness in the classroom (3rd ed.). Jossey-Bass.

Brookfield, S. D. (2017). Becoming a critically reflective teacher (2nd ed.). Jossey-Bass.

Chung, C. H., Shen, C., & Qiu, Y. Z. (2019). Students' acceptance of gamification in higher education. International Journal of Game-Based Learning (IJGBL), 9(2), 1-19.

Collier-Reed, B., & Ingerman, Å. (2013). Phenomenography: from critical aspects to knowledge claim. In J. Huisman & M. Tight (Eds.), Theory and method in higher education research, pp. 243-260. Emerald.

Cousin, G. (2009). Researching learning in higher education. Routledge.

Cruickshank, D. R., & Haefele, D. (2001). Good teachers, plural. Educational Leadership, 58(5), 26-30.

Devlin, M., & Samarawickrema, G. (2010). The criteria of effective teaching in a changing higher education context. Higher Education Research & Development, 29(2), 111-124.

Dewey, J. (1916). Democracy and education. The Free Press.

Ellis, R. (2018). Quality assurance for university teaching: issues and approaches. In R. Ellis & E. Hogard (Eds.), Handbook of quality assurance for university teaching, pp. 3-18. Routledge.

Fehrman, S., & Watson, S. L. (2021). A systematic review of asynchronous online discussions in online higher education. American Journal of Distance Education, 35(3), 200-213.

Filene, P. (2005). The joy of teaching: a practical guide for new college instructors. University of North Carolina Press.

Filippou, K. (2019). Students' academic self-efficacy in international master's degree programs in Finnish universities. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 31(1), 86-95.

Freese, J., & Peterson, D. (2017). Replication in social science. Annual Review of Sociology, 43, 147-165.

Gaebel, M., Kupriyanova, V., Morais, R., & Colucci, E. (2014). E-Learning in European higher education institutions: results of a mapping survey conducted in October-December 2013. European University Association.

Greimel-Fuhrmann, B., & Geyer, A. (2003). Students’ evaluation of teachers and instructional quality – analysis of relevant factors based on empirical evaluation research. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 28(3), 229-238.

Guppy, N., Verpoorten, D., Boud, D., Lin, L., Tai, J., & Bartolic, S. (2022). The post‐COVID‐19 future of digital learning in higher education: views from educators, students, and other professionals in six countries. British Journal of Educational Technology, 53(6), 1750-1765.

Harasim, L. (2017). Learning theory and online technologies. Routledge.

Hativa, N. (2000). Teaching for effective learning in higher education. Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Hénard, F., & Roseveare, D. (2012). Fostering quality teaching in higher education: policies and practices. OECD.

Hill, J., & Christian, T. Y. (2012). College student perceptions and ideals of teaching: an exploratory pilot study. College Student Journal, 46(3), 589-602.

Hill, Y., Lomas, L., & MacGregor, J. (2003). Students’ perceptions of quality in higher education. Quality Assurance in Education, 11(1), 15-20.

Hoidn, S. (2016). Student-centered learning environments in higher education classrooms. Springer.

Kandiko Howson, C. B. (2018). Student engagement and perceptions of quality and standards. In R. Ellis & E. Hogard (Eds.), Handbook of quality assurance for university teaching, pp. 296-303. Routledge.

Kauffman, H. (2015). A review of predictive factors of student success in and satisfaction with online learning. Research in Learning Technology, 23.

Kaufmann, R., Sellnow, D. D., & Frisby, B. N. (2016). The development and validation of the online learning climate scale (OLCS). Communication Education, 65(3), 307-321.

Kaufmann, R., & Vallade, J. I. (2020). Exploring connections in the online learning environment: student perceptions of rapport, climate, and loneliness. Interactive Learning Environments, 1-15.

Keeley, J., Smith, D., & Buskist, W. (2006). The teacher behaviors checklist: factor analysis of its utility for evaluating teaching. Teaching of Psychology, 33(2), 84-91.

Larkin, K., Rowan, L., Garrick, B., & Beavis, C. (2016). Student perspectives on first-year experience initiatives designed for pre-service teachers in their first weeks of university study. Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice, 13(1), Article 7.

Lee, S. J., Srinivasan, S., Trail, T., Lewis, D., & Lopez, S. (2011). Examining the relationship among student perception of support, course satisfaction, and learning outcomes in online learning. The Internet and Higher Education, 14(3), 158-163.

Lepp, L., Aaviku, T., Leijen, Ä., Pedaste, M., & Saks, K. (2021). Teaching during COVID-19: the decisions made in teaching. Education Sciences, 11(2), 47.

Lumsden, C., Byrne-Davis. L., & Scott, K. M. (2020). Blended learning. In S. Marshall (Ed.), A handbook for teaching and learning in higher education: enhancing academic practice (5th ed.), pp. 95-105. Routledge.

Marton, F. (1994). Phenomenography. In T. Husén & T. N. Postlethwaite (Eds.), The international encyclopedia of education, pp. 4424-4429. Pergamon.

Marton, F. (2015). Necessary conditions of learning. Routledge.

Marton, F., & Booth, S. (1997). Learning and awareness. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Moore, S., Walsh, G., & Risquez, A. (2007). Teaching at college and university: Effective strategies and principles. McGraw-Hill Education.

Moskal, P. D., & Cavanagh, T. B. (2014). Scaling blended learning evaluation beyond the university. In A. G. Picciano, C. D. Dziuban & C. R. Graham (Eds.), Blended learning: research perspectives, Volume 2, pp. 34-51. Routledge.

Müller, A. M., Goh, C., Lim, L. Z., & Gao, X. (2021). Covid-19 emergency e-learning and beyond: Experiences and perspectives of university educators. Education Sciences, 11(1), 19.

Nasser-Abu Alhija, F. (2017). Teaching in higher education: good teaching through students’ lens. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 54(1), 4-12.

Neier, S., & Zayer, L. T. (2015). Students’ perceptions and experiences of social media in higher education. Journal of Marketing Education, 37(3), 133-143.

Nevgi, A. & Löfström, E. (2015). The development of academics’ teacher identity: enhancing reflection and task perception through a university teacher development. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 46, 53-60.

Nichols, M. (2020). Transforming universities with digital distance education: the future of formal learning. Routledge.

Nilson, L. B. (2016). Teaching at its best. A research-based resource for college instructors (4th ed.). John Wiley & Sons.

Onwuegbuzie, A. J., Witcher, A. E., Collins, K. M. T., Filer, J. D., Wiedmaier, C. D., & Moore, C. W. (2007). Students’ perceptions of characteristics of effective college teachers: a validity study of a teaching evaluation form using a mixed-methods analysis. American Educational Research Journal, 44(1), 113-160.

Padrón, I., Fraga, I., Vieitez, L., Montes, C., & Romero, E. (2021). A study on the psychological wound of COVID-19 in university students. Frontiers in Psychology, 12, 589927.

Pappa, S., Yada, T., & Perälä-Littunen, S. (2020). International master’s degree students’ well-being at a Finnish university during COVID-19. Open Education Studies, 2(1), 240-251.

Peels, R. (2019). Replicability and replication in the humanities. Research Integrity and Peer Review, 4(1), 1-12.

Peels, R., & Bouter, L. (2018a). Humanities need a replication drive too. Nature, 558(7710), 372.

Peels, R., & Bouter, L. (2018b). The possibility and desirability of replication in the humanities. Palgrave Communications, 4(1).

Pleschová, G., Simon, E., Quinlan, K. M., Murphy, J., & Roxa, T. (2012). The professionalisation of academics as teachers in higher education. European Science Foundation.

Raaheim, K., Wankowski, J., & Radford, J. (1991). Helping students to learn: teaching, counselling, research. The Society for Research into Higher Education.

Ramsden, P. (2003). Learning to teach in higher education (2nd ed.). Routledge Falmer.

Rapanta, C., Botturi, L., Goodyear, P., Guàrdia, L., & Koole, M. (2020). Online university teaching during and after the Covid-19 crisis: refocusing teacher presence and learning activity. Postdigital Science and Education, 2, 923-945.

Rowan, L. & Grootenboer, P. (2017). Student engagement and rapport in higher education: the case for relationship-centred pedagogies. In L. Rowan & P. Grootenboer (Eds.), Student engagement and educational rapport in higher education, pp. 1-23. Palgrave Macmillan.

Rowan, L. & Townend, G. (2017). No hugs required: University student perspectives on the relationship between excellent teaching and educational rapport. In L. Rowan & P. Grootenboer (Eds.), Student engagement and educational rapport in higher education, pp. 105-130. Palgrave Macmillan.

Saari, J., Koskinen, H., Attila, H., & Sarén, N. (2020). Student survey 2019. Key results of EUROSTUDENT VII survey.

Sahu, P. (2020). Closure of universities due to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): impact on education and mental health of students and academic staff. Cureus, 12(4), e7541.

Sander, P., Stevenson, K., King, M., & Coates, D. (2000). University students' expectations of teaching. Studies in Higher Education, 25(3), 309-323.

Schneider, M., & Preckel, F. (2017). Variables associated with achievement in higher education: a systematic review of meta-analyses. Psychological Bulletin, 143(6), 565-600.

Schrenk, N., Alves, K., Van Dam, D., & Schrenk, B. (2021). Reflecting on best practices for online learning in a Post-COVID-19 world. Online Learning, 25(4), 486-504.

Song, L., Singleton, E. S., Hill, J. R., & Koh, M. H. (2004). Improving online learning: student perceptions of useful and challenging characteristics. The Internet and Higher Education, 7(1), 59-70.

Svensson, L. (1997). Theoretical foundations of phenomenography. Higher Education Research & Development, 16(2), 159-171.

Thompson, E. R. (2002). Chinese perspectives on the important aspects of an MBA teacher. Journal of Management Education, 29(3), 229-258.

Trigwell, K. (2000). A phenomenographic interview in phenomenography. In J. A. Bowden & E. Walsh (Eds.), Phenomenography, pp. 62-82. RMIT University Press.

Tuomainen, S. (2018). Supporting non-native university lecturers with English-medium instruction. Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education, 10(3), 230-242.

Tuomainen, S. (2019). Pedagogy or personal qualities? University students’ perceptions of teaching quality. American Journal of Education and Learning, 4(1), 117-134.

Vulcano, B. A. (2007). Extending the generality of the qualities and behaviours constituting effective teaching. Teaching of Psychology, 34(2), 114-117.

Walmsley-Smith, H., Machin, L., & Walton, G. (2019). The E-design assessment tool: an evidence-informed approach towards a consistent terminology for quantifying online distance learning activities. Research in Learning Technology, 27.

Wise, A. F., Hausknecht, S. N., & Zhao, Y. (2014). Attending to others’ posts in asynchronous discussions: learners’ online “listening” and its relationship to speaking. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 9(2), 185-209.

Wood, P. (2017). From teaching excellence to emergent pedagogies: A complex process alternative to understanding the role of teaching in higher education. In A. French & M. O’Leary (Eds.), Teaching excellence in higher education: challenges, changes and the teaching excellence framework, pp. 39-74. Emerald Publishing Limited.

Wright, R., Jones, G., & D'Alba, A. (2013). Person over pedagogy: Rapport-building traits of online instructors. In T. Bastiaens & G. Marks (Eds.), Proceedings of E-Learn 2013: world conference on e-learning in corporate, government, healthcare, and higher education, pp. 1603-1612. Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE).

Yang, Y., Hooshyar, D., Pedaste, M., Wang, M., Huang, Y. M., & Lim, H. (2020). Prediction of students’ procrastination behaviour through their submission behavioural pattern in online learning. Journal of Ambient Intelligence and Humanized Computing, 1-18.

Åkerlind, G. S. (2008). Growing and developing as a university researcher. Higher Education, 55(2), 241-254.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2023 Satu Tuomainen

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Copyright © 2015-2023. European Journal of Education Studies (ISSN 2501 - 1111) is a registered trademark of Open Access Publishing Group. All rights reserved.

This journal is a serial publication uniquely identified by an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) serial number certificate issued by Romanian National Library (Biblioteca Nationala a Romaniei). All the research works are uniquely identified by a CrossRef DOI digital object identifier supplied by indexing and repository platforms. All authors who send their manuscripts to this journal and whose articles are published on this journal retain full copyright of their articles. All the research works published on this journal are meeting the Open Access Publishing requirements and can be freely accessed, shared, modified, distributed and used in educational, commercial and non-commercial purposes under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).