Research Group Visits Schools in Finland and Sweden

Courtesy of Bowie State University

Doctoral students and faculty members from Bowie State’s Educational Leadership Department traveled to Finland and Sweden to conducti a comparative research analysis of the two Scandinavian nations’ educational systems to those in the United States.

The research group visited public schools, colleges and universities in both countries to explore their very different approaches to education and determine best practices that can be incorporated into our educational system in the United States.

“Teachers and educators in Finland are held in high esteem and considered important contributors to the nation since they serve as the cornerstone of Finnish society based on their belief in equal opportunities and pursuit of lifelong learning,” said Dr. Ann Hilliard, coordinating manager of the study abroad research group. “In Finland, teachers focus on independent student problem-solving and are tuned to staying abreast of the latest trends and changes in technology. Many institutions globally are going to Finland to study the effectiveness of their educational system.”

Many educators believe Finland has the best educational system in the world. In 2021, The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitive study ranked Finland as having the most well-developed education system in the world.  In 2019, Finland was considered one of the best education systems in the world according to the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA).

“Based on my observation, teachers spend fewer hours at school each day and less time in classrooms than American teachers,” said Dr. Hilliard. “They use the extra time in the day to write curriculum programs and assess their students. Conversely, students in Finland spend far more time playing outside, even in wintry weather, and homework is minimal.”

On a visit to Finland’s Aalto University, BSU’s researchers observed impressive programs in art, design and economics where students may be engaged in multi-disciplinary projects.   The research group also visited the Business College to observe how the students’ business plans were taken from concept to go-to-market products developed and produced by students.  A number of projects created by Finnish students have launched extensive collaborative relationships with international partners.

In Sweden, the BSU cohort learned that basic education is compulsory and free of charge. The entire educational system is student-centered and based on a students’ interest.  Swedish students are allowed to choose where they want to attend school, regardless of where they reside, and have the option to change from a public school to a private institution at no cost. Upon the completion of primary school, students are given the choice to attend high school.  Based on data, 100% of students elect to attend secondary school where they are able to select between 20 different programs for their course of study.

“The Swedish government encourages its schools to be innovative and creative across disciplines and continues to promote being known as the leading country in the world for research,” said Dr. Hilliard.