The starting point of the project was a joint development with partner universities and their student unions. The work of the project developed the integration of students, participation, and student association activities as well as established university work for promoting study ability.
Kyky was coordinated by the National Union of University Students in Finland (SYL) and project partners were Aalto University and the University of Tampere and their student unions. The Kyky project was part of the Campus Conexus II project and was funded by the European Social Fund. It was a continuation of the earlier Kyky and Campus Conexus I projects.
As a result of the Kyky project, study ability is now a recognised concept at universities. Both student unions and higher education institutions have introduced different methods for promoting study ability. Throughout the project, SYL together with project partners disseminated best practices and results through seminars and workshops.
Aalto University and the University of Tampere introduced the perspective of study ability in processes for developing and evaluating education (the reform of the Bachelor level education, introduction studies for new students, student surveys). Universities now work with promoting study ability in a deliberate and organised manner. The project supported Aalto University Student Union especially in welcoming new students and developing trainings for student associations.
A network for those working with student associations was established among the university student unions. During the project, the network focused on examining links between study ability and being active in associations. Student unions worked to increase equality and accessibility in student association activities and developed trainings for elected officials and volunteers.
Study Ability through Engagement
The material package Study Ability through Engagement offers information and inspiration for higher education communities to enhance study ability and study engagement.
Four perspectives are used in the material:
- Engagement and inspiration
- Trying and daring
- Competent and coping
- Being well and taking care
The material can be used at different levels in both higher education institutions and student associations. It can also be used to spark discussions in different groups for development, workshops, meetings and more informal groups. We particularly hope that students and staff together would use the material.
The material includes a booklet, contemplative questions, a customisable poster, and comment stickers. In addition to basic information about study ability, the booklet also includes research about the importance of, for instance, study engagement and study skills. It also provides examples of how the theme cards and posters can be used.
Study ability is a student’s work ability. Study ability is relevant for study results, student well-being, and study progress.
Promoting study ability improves study progress, expertise, employability, and working life, but also community activity and atmosphere. A study community that cares for study ability creates a positive circle, where the well-being and enthusiasm of staff and teachers are passed on to students and vice versa, thereby spreading to the whole community.
Many different factors influence study ability. Societal structures and decisions, actions by management and personnel, student associations, as well as each individual in the community.
The model for study ability used at higher education institutions and in student associations was developed by Senior Physician Kristina Kunttu at Finnish Student Health Services (FSHS) and the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health. The model is based on the model for work ability. The study ability model includes four dimensions of the individual and environment.
Personal resources include the personality, physical and mental well-being, life situation, social relations, and health-affecting habits of the student. Also social support and how students experience their own resources as well as life management may have an impact on their study ability.
Society, as well as higher education institutions, can support these aspects by making studies more flexible, supporting students with children, or strengthening students’ life management skills.
Study skills include the mastering of study techniques, learning styles and study strategies, critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and social skills. Skills affecting study progress also include skills in planning one’s studies and time management.
Supporting study skills can be accomplished through individual coaching, courses or workshops. The best results are achieved when study skills are integrated into the study plan and made visible in learning outcomes. Strengthening study skills also develops important skills needed in working life and expert positions.
Teaching is a very important factor affecting study ability. This dimension includes quality of teaching, teachers’ pedagogical skills, study counselling, as well as peer and teacher tutoring.
Teaching plays an important role in whether students engage in their studies and are integrated in the higher education community. When students feel a connection to teaching staff and the use of diverse teaching plans also promote study ability. Peer tutoring and other forms of tutoring and mentoring have a positive impact on study ability.
Study environment includes the physical, psychological and social environment. The physical environment includes different kinds of learning environments and study environments, such as how studies are arranged, whether there are spaces for resting, and campus accessibility. The psychological and the social environment include interaction between students and teachers, study atmosphere, and study community.
An inspiring and enthusing atmosphere, where bullying is not tolerated, promotes study ability and the well-being of students. It is also important that students feel included in the community both with when it comes to studies as well as student associations.
Kujala, J. (2009). Opiskelukykyä ja yhteisöllisyyttä. Opiskelukyvyn edistämisen suositukset yliopistoille. Helsinki.
Kunttu, K. (2011). Opiskelukyky. In Kunttu, Komulainen, Makkonen & Pynnönen (eds) Opiskeluterveys. Helsinki: Duodecim.