University is a learning community where good teaching is supported and recognised, and together, the best quality is pursued. We are all interconnected and each member has an impact on the whole. In Tallinn University, teaching, and research and creative activity are valued on an equal basis.

The good practice of teaching and supervising is a vision document where the fundamental principles and values of the activity of people who conduct educational activity have been framed. As typical of vision documents, ambitious goals are set in this document, and moving towards the achievement of these goals is the aim of the constant professional development of lecturers. Therefore, it should be understood that every lecturer of the university may not have the competence for implementing all principles brought in the good practice document at the given point in time. At the same time, we require awareness of these principles, and readiness to direct and further one’s development as a lecturer on the basis of the agreement on good practice from all. 

The preparation of the good practice was based on the contemporary approach to learning defined in the Estonian Lifelong Learning Strategy, Code of Conduct for Research Integrity (2017) and our university’s vision document from 2015 “I change learning“. The authors were inspired by the good practices of teaching and supervising of the University of Tartu and many other universities in the world.

The following terms are used in this document: 
lecturers as all persons who participate in the university by conducting educational activity (incl. supervisors of student papers) - academic and non-academic staff of the university, persons who conduct educational activity under the contract under the law of obligations, practicians participating on a voluntary basis; students as all learners – students, external students, continuing education students, Student Academy students.

1. Teaching and supervising is science-based

Lecturers are familiar with the contemporary approach to learning, use modern and science-based teaching methods; support students with contemporary, appropriate, science-based study materials, where equal treatment is valued, and contributes to the creation of new materials, where necessary. Lecturers analyse and develop their teaching practices. The content of the courses is timely, based on modern knowledge, and research and creative achievements, incl. the results of the lecturers’ research and creative activities are integrated into the courses.

In supervising final theses, lecturers guide the students to read appropriate research literature and make informed choices, and support them at all stages of conducting a (creative) study.

Lecturers are familiar with the principles of Open Science and responsible for the compliance of their own and supervised students’ activity with research integrity

2. Guidance documents concerning the good practice of teaching and supervising

In the organisation of studies, the academic unit ensures that the learner obtains the education which corresponds to the public information presented by the university concerning the study programme during the admission period. Lecturers set high requirements for themselves in teaching and supervising, and ensure such learning environment that enables all learners to achieve the learning outcomes at the required level. Lecturers choose suitable learning and teaching methods on the basis of the study level, specificities of the study group and the educational content. In the choice of assessment methods, lecturers take into account how and to what extent the method allows to assess the achievement of the learning outcome(s) and make sure that the learners understand matters relating to assessment.

High quality learning results can be ensured when all lecturers are aware of the harmony between the courses and can see how their teachings fit into the context of the study programme. Therefore, head of the study area/study programme administrator familiarises the lecturers with the study programme and its nominal distribution, and involves the lecturers in the process of study programme development.

To maintain the high level of teaching and supervising, lecturers shall:

  • analyse their activity on the basis of practice, feedback received from the students, colleagues and management, latest developments in the field and research; 
  • develop their general competences (incl. creativity, entrepreneurship, digital competences, environmental conservation);
  • enhance their knowledge and teaching-related skills; 
  • keep themselves informed of the organisation of studies at the university and study information systems (ÕKE; ÕKS, ÕIS, TÕIS) as well as the implementation of the academic employees’ career model and the Employment Relations Rules.  

Lecturers record and give an overview of their teaching activities and development in the field of teaching in a portfolio, for example.
The university supports lecturers’ professional development with network-based activities, see in detail:

3. Teaching is collaborative and supports self-directed learning

Lecturers create such conditions in designing and conducting studies, which support the learner’s autonomy, involvement and effective development of knowledge. Lecturers as experts in their field are open to the ideas and thoughts of the learners, and value dialogue with the students. As regards the course content, possibilities for justified choices are created in cooperation with the learners, rules concerning studies and mutual expectations are agreed in the beginning of the studies, and activities are planned in a way that enables both parties best to fulfill their roles. Lecturers give feedback to the learners on their development and the submitted works, analyse and take into account the feedback given by the learners, and give their feedback on students’ feedback.

Lecturers value openness and cooperation both within the university and outside, sharing the best teaching practices, communicating with external partners and belonging to professional networks.

In a collaborative learning process, the learner’s responsibility plays an important role besides the lecturer’s responsibility; it has been described in the good practice of learning.

4. Lecturers follow the main values agreed in the code of conduct for research integrity in their activities

The responsibility for educational activities, research and creation based on good academic practice weighs on everyone who operates in the university. By rendering meaning to and applying the main values described in the research integrity agreement in the teaching and supervising process, inter alia, the lecturers create an ethical learning environment.

Openness and cooperation in teaching and supervising consist of

  • teaching/learning/planning of studies carried out in cooperation; 
  • the openness of lecturers and supervisors to new ideas; 
  • giving value to the feedback by colleagues, students, management; the skills and willingness to provide feedback, too. 

Freedom and responsibility in teaching and supervising mean

  • the freedom to choose teaching methods, topics to be treated in the course and basic theories, and the capability to justify the reasons behind these choices; 
  • the freedom to choose the methods for assessing the achievement of the learning outcomes together with the responsibility to delve into the assessment process as well as to the works submitted for assessment; 
  • the freedom to experiment and make mistakes together with the responsibility to analyse the situation and initiate the correction of the mistakes; 
  • the freedom to participate in networks dealing with different teaching-related topics at conferences and trainings, responsibility to keep one’s knowledge up to date (incl. topics related to the academic ethics);
  • responsibility to keep oneself informed of the societal and field-specific developments, to associate the material being taught with these. 

Respect and caring in teaching and supervising mean that  

  • the principle of equal treatment is followed in communicating with the learners, colleagues and cooperation partners;
  • it is understood that cultural diversity also means worldview diversity;  
  • one cares for the operating environment (incl. digital environment), acts on the basis of green and sustainable way of thinking; 
  • one is aware of how to handle sensitive issues, research vulnerable target groups and ensure personal data protection; 
  • one notices the learners’ needs, is attentive to the students and colleagues, keeps to the agreements concluded with the learner(s).

Lecturers/supervisors create a safe and amicable learning environment where different opinions are tolerated.

Justice in teaching and supervising means that

  • sufficient time is planned for the completion of tasks given to the students and the provision of feedback; the timetable of the course is taken into account; 
  • assessment and feedback provision is objective and transparent, the principles of assessment are announced in the beginning of the course and the learners are informed of the basis for the formation of the assessment/grade/pass mark (incl. in the admission exams); 
  • adjustments are made in the organisation of studies for learners with special educational needs, if relevant information is communicated by the counsellor for students with special needs from the Career and Counselling Centre.

Honesty and objectivity in teaching and supervising mean that

  • one is honest to himself/herself - the lecturer knows in which fields he/she is an expert;
  • one is honest in bringing out other people’s contribution (incl. the creation of other authors);
  • the learners are guided to refrain from forging, distorting, making up or plagiarising data/information. Lecturers know different ways of identifying plagiarism and when would a (creative)study or experiment/work conducted by the student need the approval of the university’s Ethics Committee or another approval;
  • the conflict of interests is avoided (roles of the supervisor, reviewer, admission or assessment committee members; possible bias as a result of being a member of a particular school, etc.);
  • one speaks up if unable to meet his/her commitments in reality;  
  • objective assessment of students has been ensured (where necessary, such as in conflict situations, one withdraws from the role of the assessor and asks for another assessment/assessor).

Lecturers/supervisors notice and intervene in situations where academic ethics is infringed.

5. The university offers systemic support to the employees in matters relating to educational activity

Topic/question Where to turn for advice Additional/support materials
lecturers’ self-development and advanced training
(incl. trainings in ethics)
administrative heads and heads of studies of the schools, 
Personnel Office, 
Centre for Innovation in Education, 
Research Administration Office,
Academic Affairs Office 
TLU training calendar (on the intranet)
Possible examples:
Academic employees career model (on the intranet)
Lecturers’ self-evaluation model (university’s homepage)
Portfolio of academic teaching (NB! preferable form, its use has not been agreed in the university)
feedback from the students and giving feedback to the students study programme administrator, 
head of studies,
Academic Affairs Office

Introduction to the feedback system (a link to the introduction and feedback questionnaires, university’s homepage)

Feedback system and summaries of the results (material on the intranet)

open, supporting communication culture (discussions on ethics and relationships, bringing out the best practices and recognition) directors of the schools, 
administrative heads and heads of studies,
Research Administration Office and Academic Affairs Office,
ethics advisor(s) of the academic unit
matters relating to intellectual property ethics advisor(s) of the academic unit, 
lawyer of the Research Administration Office, 
Academic Library (subject librarians)

matters relating to copyright  head of studies of the academic unit,
head of study area, 
lawyer of the Research Administration Office
data protection and ethical aspects of research in the domains of humanities, social and natural sciences in accordance with the Personal Data Protection Act

TLU Ethics Committee 

(if will not process, then the Research Ethics Committee of the National Institute for Health Development and AKI)

Code of conduct for research integrity 
cases related to the activities and/or members of TLU which concern ignoring the academic customs, breaches of ethical norms and disputes (incl. retroactively detected plagiarism in already defended final theses) ethics advisor(s) of the academic unit, 
TLU Ethics Committee

Eksimine akadeemilise eetika vastu, menetlemise skeem (Breach of academic ethics, scheme of the proceeding)
(A. Tammeleht,2019)

Vilepuhumisega seotud riskid (Risks related to whistleblowing (A. Tammeleht, 2019)

interpersonal relationships, issues concerning equal treatment director of the academic unit, 
Commissioner for Equal Treatment
Good academic practice in TLU
breaches of academic ethics that have become apparent in the course of studies (incl. plagiarism), 
all study levels 
study programme administrator, 
head of studies, 
Academic Affairs Office 
In the context of studies: 
deletion from the matriculation register and warnings
(guidance document on the intranet)
issues concerning academic ethics that have emerged in the course of writing and defending a final thesis supervisor of the final thesis, 
co-supervisor from the university,
study programme administrator,
head of studies

Scheme of action for an academic unit in the case of a commitment of a significant indecent act 
Additional material on the intranet

plagiarism detection programme (Urkund/ NB! as of spring 2021, the programme is called Ouriginal) contact person of the academic unit (e.g. study programme administrator), 
Academic Affairs Office (incl. the E-learning Centre) 
timeliness of the guidelines for the final theses, incl. the reference system study programme administrator,
head of study area
issues concerning studies or the organisation of studies study programme administrator,
head of studies,
Academic Affairs Office
Study Regulations
issues concerning the structure of the study programme and study programme development study programme administrator,
head of the study area
Statute of Study Programme
data management issues, incl. Open Science data protection specialist (see contacts from the Management Support Office), 
Research Administration Office
Open Science
possibilities of supporting students with special educational needs counsellor for students with special needs of the Career and Counselling Centre
study counsellor
Adjustments in the course of studies