The University of Vaasa distributes awards for research and teaching

Research Act of the Year
The University of Vaasa distributed awards for research and teaching at its anniversary celebration on 27 January. Associate Professor Tatiana Garanina and Assistant Professor Mikko Ranta received the Research Act of the Year award. Associate Professors in Marketing Hanna Leipämaa-Leskinen and Henna Syrjälä received the Teaching Act of the Year award. In addition, University Teacher Laura Havinen was awarded the Hyvä opettaja (Good Teacher) Award and Assistant Professor Tuomas Huikkola a commendation for his interactive teaching by the University of Vaasa Student Union. The ceremony also included commendations by the Rector for Klaus Grobys, Associate Professor in Finance, and Marko Kohtamäki, Professor of Strategy, and his research team.

How will blockchain change accounting?

Tatiana Garanina & Mikko Ranta. Photo: Sami Pulkkinen

Associate Professor Tatiana Garanina and Assistant Professor Mikko Ranta received the Research Act of the Year award for their high-quality scientific publication, which sheds light on the use of new innovative technology, i.e., blockchain technology, in accounting.

Blockchain technology is of great importance in today’s digital economy. Garanina and Ranta’s article “Blockchain in accounting research: current trends and emerging topics” summarizes the possibilities of blockchains for accounting very comprehensively. This is a literature review that has utilized both machine learning and more traditional research methods. The article was published in the Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal (Journal rankings: Jufo 2, ABS 3, ABDC A*).

– We came up with this topic as blockchain is considered a potentially disruptive technology for accounting profession in the future. With its ability to store and verify transactions, blockchain may lead to a change from double-entry to triple-entry accounting, verified by blockchain ledgers. Any user of financial information will have an opportunity to prepare financial statements at any point of time, say Garanina and Ranta.

In the article, they question whether blockchain is really a disruptive or sustaining technology for accounting, what risks may emerge with the application of blockchain technology, and how the role of accountants and auditors may change in the future.

The researchers are very proud that their hard work is being recognized and appreciated by the university.

– This is our first publication, but we are already working on some more. There is still plenty to research on the possibilities and threats of blockchain application in accounting, say both researchers.

Reverse teaching inspires students

Hanna Leipämaa-Leskinen & Henna Syrjälä. Photo Sami Pulkkinen

Associate professors Hanna Leipämaa-Leskinen and Henna Syrjälä were granted the Teaching Act of the Year award for the course “Kulttuurinen kuluttajamarkkinointi” (cultural consumer marketing). As part of the Master's program in marketing, the course was an interactive distance-learning course that utilized so-called flipping, i.e., reverse learning.

Whilst in traditional teaching the topic is taught for the first time in class and then homework is done at home, in flipped learning the student first gets acquainted with the topic him- or herself and the assignments are done together in class.

In the Leipämaa-Leskinen's and Syrjälä's course, the students immersed themselves in the topic of each week independently and, after that, what they learned was deepened under the guidance of teachers in Zoom meetings, during which applied exercises were done in small groups. What was learned was tested at the end of each week with so called ‘weekly nuts’, which were different types of individual and group assignments.

Leipämaa-Leskinen and Syrjälä say they are positively surprised by the award. The Flipparit project, which develops university education, inspired them to join a pilot group and turn a previously slightly flipped course into a fully flipped one.

–  When we gained momentum in the implementation of the course and knew that the work would bear fruit in the following years, we started to enjoy teaching in a whole new way! We got away from lecturing on the same things and were able to focus our energies on interacting with students and challenging them to reflect on the things they were studying themselves, says Syrjälä.

Not only the teachers but also the students were excited about this new way of studying. The course received good feedback.

–  The students felt that learning became deeper thanks to the flipped learning, and this is easy to agree with as the grades also improved from previous years, says Leipämaa-Leskinen.

The University of Vaasa is running several projects and measures aimed at developing university teaching. In addition to the Flipparit project, Syrjälä and Leipämaa-Leskinen are also thanking the university's teaching support team, mentoring, teacher colleagues and Teaching Assistant Milla Hannula for their help and support.

Commendations in teaching and research

Klaus Grobys. Kuva Sami Pulkkinen

Klaus Grobys, Associate Professor of Finance, received a commendation from the Rector for an initiative that renews and innovates teaching. The award was given on the Finance Channel in YouTube, founded by Grobys, where he distributes his lecture presentations, recordings of his teaching materials and conference presentations to students and anyone interested in finance topics. As a teacher, Grobys promotes the openness of teaching materials through his YouTube channel in accordance with the principles of open science. The channel, which is open to everyone, also gives him and the university visibility, and increases university's societal impact.

Strategy professor Marko Kohtamäki and his team of researchers: Rodrigo Rabetino, Tuomas Huikkola, Lauri Korkeamäki, Yassine Talaoui, Ausrine Silenskyte and Jukka Partanen received commendations for their long-term and successful research in the fields of servitization and business models.

The research quality, output and scholarly impact of research by Professor Kohtamäki and his team have been at a very high international level for many years. This has resulted a number of highly ranked journal publications, collaborations with leading international researchers, high-quality dissertations and millions of euros in external funding for research projects. Thanks to Kohtamäki and his team, the University of Vaasa is among the best, not only in Finland but also in the world, in servitization in terms of the numbers of publications and citations received.

Marko Kohtamäki. Photo Sami Pulkkinen

Good Teacher award to Laura Havinen

 Laura Havinen, University teacher in Computer Science, was awarded the Hyvä opettaja (Good Teacher) Award by the University of Vaasa Student Union. Assistant Professor Tuomas Huikkola received a commendation for his interactive teaching.

Laura Havinen ja Tuomas Huikkola. Kuva Sami Pulkkinen
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