Teaching & Learning Activities on course level

The most commonly used Teaching and Learing Activities within the PBL-setting at Maastricht University are listed below.

The tutorial group meeting is a central element in Problem Based Learning. This is a group of students supervised by a tutor. Each session, the tutorial group is faced with a problem (the task) that challenges them to think about the subject-matter, discuss it with each other and ultimately, through independent study, gain deeper insight into the subject-matter. After independent study, the group reconvenes to discuss the studied matter, using the learning goals based on the prior discussion and apply the studied matter to the problem at hand. The ultimate goal of this reporting session is to gain the most thorough understanding of the matter as possible and to be able to use this knowledge to explain different situations.

The objective of project work varies. Communication within the group can be one of the objectives. The focus can also be on

other 21st century skills like leadership, critical thinking, and collaboration. Most of the time, project work has several objectives, in which skills and knowledge about content are combined. Project work should reflect the professional skills and competencies which students need for their future job.

Students enjoy project work in which real people or real situations are involved. For example, the project team can act as an advisory team for a real organization or client, rather than just work on a Mickey Mouse assignment. Students should get the feeling their work is needed and awarded.

Project work, as a final product and/or the process, can be assessed by staff as well as clients. Individual qualities can also be assessed by these assessors, but also by peers.

Cognitive domains

  • Understanding
  • and to lesser extent Remembering

TLAs for Employability ILOs

Employability

  • Academic expertise and skills: tutorials, lectures
  • Self-awareness: reflection, feedback, readiness assessment test
  • Adaptability: guest speaker, real-life scenarios, thematic seminars, workshops
  • Social responsibility: team work, group papers, group presentations, debate

Project work can be seen as a format of problem-based learning or can be part of problem-based learning. Project work can replace an entire course or can be integrated as part of an entire course. In project work students collaborate with fellow students. They are responsible for their progress and final result. If needed, the group can consult a tutor or an expert etc. The consultation can be scheduled or on demand. Guidelines for project work can be very strict. In this case, the final product of all students is similar. If students can be creative within the boundaries end products can be very different.

The objective of project work varies. Communication within the group can be one of the objectives. The focus can also be on other 21st century skills like leadership, critical thinking, and collaboration. Most of the time, project work has several objectives, in which skills and knowledge are combined . Project work should reflect the professional skills and competencies which students need for their future job. Students enjoy project work in which real people or real situations are involved. For example, the project team can act as an advisory team for a real organization or client, rather than just work on a assignment developed by an academic staff member . Students should get the feeling their work is needed and awarded. Project work, as a final product and/or the process, can be assessed by staff as well as clients. Individual qualities can also be assessed by these assessors, but also by peers.

Cognitive domain:

  • Applying
  • Analysing
  • Understanding
  • Evaluating
  • Creating

Example: Project work at SBE

Project work – ERD, School of Business and Economics

“In the course ‘Supporting Learning @ the Workplace’ in the MSc Management of Learning (MoL) students take the role of an (HRD) consultancy team, working for a real company to tackle a specific HRD-related problem or question. Each team is challenged to apply and integrate the knowledge and skills acquired during the previous courses of the MoL programme.

Students work together in a project team of approximately five to six team members, all having their individual qualities. The team (1) identifies, explores, and (re-)formulates the specific problems and questions the organisation (the client) has submitted; (2) analyses them based on literature study and field work, and (3) answer the questions posed with this input.

The assssment is aligned with the programme and course objectives as well as the learning activities. Concretely, two times a week the project teams have the opportunity to have a feedback dialogue with the tutor or, if needed, with another expert in the specific issue they are addressing. The feedback dialogue with the tutor addresses the content and the process of the project work as well as the team interaction process. In addition, the teams are encouraged to have regular feedback dialogues with their client to ensure a high level of sharedness of understanding during the course of the collaboration. With respect to the summative assessment, all project deliverables and the presentation of the project results to the client are assessed by staff as well as clients.”

A lecture is an exposition of a given subject delivered before an audience or class, as for the purpose of instruction. In a PBL-setting lectures have an integrative and clarifying role instead of a straightforward transfer of information (see example below).

Cognitive domains:

  • Understanding
  • Remembering
  • and to lesser extent Creating

Role of lectures in PBL at UM

In a PBL setting you can think of lectures having different functions in the wider context of a course. It is helpful to explicitly label the kind of lecture you are looking for when you are designing a course. In principle lectures are a bit of an outsider in PBL since PBL is not a lecture-based system. So in the context of a course you cannot simply use a lecture to transfer knowledge about a particular topic, after all even though the theme of a course is clear the learning goals and most of the literature they read are the results of students’ discussion on the topic.

Lectures do not directly address answers to learning goals (how can they if the learning goals are not clear when a lecture is prepared?) which is what students are looking for in literature and other ways of acquiring knowledge. So for example issues in philosophy of science closely match the events that are happening in science at that time. Since preparation time is limited for students and some issues are complex you can choose to have the tasks in a course like philosophy of science (and possibly suggested literature) deal with philosophical

issues. The lectures can then provide illustrations and cases thatfacilitate understanding for students because they acquire information on the origin and context of the issues.

Another example of a series of lectures that can be very helpful for students is that you request the lecturers to provide more in depth information on issues in an introductory level course so that the lectures demonstrate to students some of the issues and topics they will encounter later in studying a particular topic. Especially in the context of an open curriculum where students make their own choices about what to study next this can be helpful. In other contexts it can function as an appetizer or motivator to stick with a topic. Lectures where complex issues are explained can also be very useful (even in a PBL context). Some issues are conceptually difficult and may need additional explanation or the possibility for students to interact with someone who masters the material. In that case the lecture serves to explain.

Digital instructional content should support learning and should be just-enough, just in-time. The objective of digital instructional content is to help students in their learning. For example, video clips and animations could deepen knowledge and explaining complex issues. It applies also to other online content. Staff can offer online content only when necessary.

Digital instructional content can also change the format of your education, like into the format ‘flipped classroom’. Staff can ask students to prepare (online) content and in the classroom the knowledge could be applied, like in (panel) discussions or in role plays.

Cognitive domains:

  • Understanding

Example: The flipped classroom with Nicole Kornet

Practicals come in many different shapes and forms, which all share the core feature that they are aimed at teaching practical professional skills. Student research projects, specific skills trainings, simulations and workshops are the most common formats. In practicals, acquired knowledge is applied in different settings allowing the students to further hone their scientific competences (e.g., working in a lab, planning experiments, designing new tools or methods, analyzing data, and scientific writing) and enabling competences (e.g., flexibility, creativity, planning, organizing and, communicating with interested peers and stakeholders, and presenting results to professional and lay audiences).

Cognitive domains:

  • Applying
  • Understanding
  • Evaluating
  • Creating

Example of a practical: Simulation at FPN

Simulation
Simulations are intended to be realistic and representative of problems and issues encountered in the real world. This includes cases and role play (see example below).

Simulation at UM: FPN Practical Psychiatric Anamnesis
In the 2nd year of the Bachelor Psychology, students are trained to have a professional conversation with a patient who is suffering from a mental illness. In their professional life the range of patients and their symptoms may vary significantly. They may deal with manic patients referred by their family, patients who are hallucinating, depressed or confused patients, just to name a few.
To better prepare students for such conversations in real life, they practice with student actors who play the role of different types of patients (combined with a preparation lecture, instruction materials and literature). Students are then asked to structure the conversation in a way that important topics are covered and the patient feels comfortable enough to share information. The ultimate goal is to give a correct diagnosis and to report on this. The practical consists of four

3-hour meetings lead by an experienced trainer. Every meeting, students have the opportunity to apply the acquired techniques to simulated patients with various psychiatric disorders.

Moreover, video is used to record all these conversations the students have with their simulated patients. An advantage of video is that, rather than taking notes, a student can fully concentrate on the conversation. Afterwards you can watch the patients’ answers again and evaluate your own and others’ verbal and non-verbal behaviour. Although students are nervous before the conversation, they indicate that it is one of the most valuable parts of their course. The focus of the simulated patient contact is on training the following skills: Psychological conversation techniques, ability to structurally execute a psychiatric anamnestic conversation, professional client relation, diagnosing, professional language, written reports. In this practical ‘Psychiatric Anamnesis’, students use the knowledge (on diagnostics, disorders, symptoms, treatments) from the 2nd year course ‘Psychopathology’, and build further on the psychological conversation skills achieved in the first year.

A workshop is a useful educational format for didactic scenarios, which aims to teach practical skills, simulate professional working environment and activate/facilitate master-apprentice models of learning.

Typically, knowledge transfer is secondary, while application of knowledge and the formation of (professional) skills and attitudes are placed central stage. This is why workshops are a typical format in the 2nd and 3rd year of BA degree programmes and a very common educational choice at MA level. In terms of intended learning outcomes, the

workshop is geared toward application, understanding, evaluation and creation (according to the taxonomy of Bloom). It is possible, however, that the workshop reveals knowledge gaps from the previous educational stages, and is therefore a useful diagnostic tool that might lead to further (remedial) learning. Usually, assessment is accomplished on the basis of professional products, which are ideally graded by experts from the field. It is not excluded, however, at the end of the workshop to require an academic paper (reflective essay or report) next to the professional deliverables.

Cognitive domains

  • Applying
  • Understanding
  • Evaluating
  • Creating

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