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Ten lecturers receive Senior Teaching Qualification

On 28 June, ten dedicated lecturers received their Senior Teaching Qualification (SKO). Rector Hester Bijl congratulated them in an online meeting. We asked some of them what this qualification means to them, what they believe ‘good teaching’ entails and what makes them so passionate about education.

Lenny van Rosmalen (Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences)

‘In my opinion, good teaching consists of presenting knowledge that is so interesting that it then raises more questions. The teaching must inspire enthusiasm, and the relevance of what you teach must be so clear that students want to explore further on their own. Nobody can know everything: according to philosopher of science Karl Popper, all knowledge is provisional and hypothetical, and science is constantly changing. The trick then is to enrich students with knowledge from your expertise, and thus intrinsically motivate them to seek out new knowledge and question what they find. A critical attitude towards existing scientific research is indispensable for this.’

Marco de Ruiter (LUMC)

‘Although I’ve been teaching at this wonderful university for more than 20 years, I think it’s extremely valuable to reflect on all the education you give and organise. To reflect, together with an educationalist and a group of fellow lecturers, on your vision of education and how it fits within the department in which you teach. Thinking critically about your didactic concepts and the structure of the developed learning pathways is also extremely instructive.

‘During the SKO track, I became more engrossed in the advantages and disadvantages of programmatic testing, in which tests are used much more as part of the learning process than as a kind of final evaluation. In my opinion, a well-thought-out formative testing programme over a longer teaching period does much more justice to the student, and it ultimately contributes to a better university education for the student. It’s no coincidence that the LUMC education building features a quote from the Roman philosopher Seneca: “We learn not for school, but for life”. This is not only a message for students, but a reminder to lecturers that they need to create the right learning environment for this.’

Hanne Cuyckens (Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs)

‘In terms of individual career opportunities, teaching is still often secondary to research, even though good teaching is also essential. The opportunity for further professionalisation in the field of education is something I value highly. That was the main reason why I wanted to obtain the SKO certificate. I see it not only as a personal testament to my qualities as a lecturer, but the existence of an SKO track also shows that excellence in teaching is taken seriously by the university.

‘Looking back over this last unconventional year, I gained my most important insight from the sudden and necessary shift to online education. I have to admit that I was quite hesitant about it in the beginning. But after delving deeper into blended learning, among other things, I was able to deliver an online version of my subjects that I am satisfied with and that also worked for my students. I have certainly learnt things from this that I will take with me into the future. Having said that, I can’t wait to be physically in front of the class again soon.’  

Joni Reef (Faculty of Law)

‘“Reason is the slave of the passions,” said 18th-century enlightenment philosopher David Hume. Basically, Hume claims that before we start thinking about justice and equality, we must first care. This applies first to me as a lecturer: I have a mission. Transforming the teaching at Leiden Law School arose from my desire to teach our students about the human being behind the inmate. It is precisely our judges, lawyers and policymakers of the future whom I want to give the opportunity to get to know professional “passions”.

‘I have been giving lectures and tutorials with former inmates and people under entrustment orders for years, and recently I started teaching inside the prison walls to a group of inmates and students from Leiden. This creates a connection between two demographically distinct groups and opens eyes on both sides. Our students learn the theory amidst the practice, scrutinise their own frames of reference, and become more compassionate and self-confident. It is an unforgettable education for all participants. In the coming years, I would like to offer this “transformative” education to all students and lecturers throughout the university, so we can all take equal responsibility for inclusion of socially disadvantaged groups and safeguard equality.’

Christoph Pieper (Faculty of Humanities)

‘In my view, education is based on an active interaction between the lecturer and the individual student. For learning to be successful, both must work towards the common goal. As a lecturer, I must be able to demonstrate enthusiasm and professional knowledge; likewise, I want the students to feel involved and enthused themselves, so they consider learning to be a conscious choice and participate in the learning process independently. This premise is at the heart of my vision on education: it is a process that encourages students to take an active and independent stance.

‘This certainly has been a challenge in the last year, with distance learning during the pandemic. But the limitations also forced me to break some fixed patterns and invest even more energy in didactics. Moreover, it made me reconsider what I actually want to achieve in my teaching. I gained a lot of inspiration for this during the SKO track, particularly from the writing lab that the Graduate School of Teaching (ICLON) offered as support. There I learnt a lot from inspiring colleagues from different faculties about their vision of good education and their best practices.’

Tijmen Pronk (Faculty of Humanities)

‘Good education is all about imparting knowledge and skills. It starts with attracting motivated students. In the case of the Bachelor of Linguistics, we do this via the Linguistics Olympiad, among other things, and in the case of the Master of Linguistics via a unique Summer School. Students remain motivated if you set clear, ambitious learning goals and provide as personalised an education as possible. The content of the subjects is the main motivator, although you sometimes have to lend a hand with inspiring examples and assignments. Fortunately, these are not difficult to find in the lectures I give in Linguistics. I always try to make teaching personal by building on students’ previous knowledge and responding to their specific interests. And a bit of humour sometimes helps too.

‘Another thing that almost always motivates students is to approach them as budding academics. Introduce them to the big questions in the field from the very beginning of their studies and, in the course of their studies, explore with them the limits of our knowledge. For me, that is the essence of good academic teaching.’

Martina Teichert (LUMC)

‘Initially, I saw the SKO track as an opportunity to reflect on my teaching. I thought that if I was going to have the luxury of stepping away from day-to-day issues, I should do so thoroughly. That’s why I followed both the university’s SKO track and the educational track at the LUMC. This combination suited me very well. In the LUMC track, we were offered a broad overview of educational concepts, well presented with a supplementary reading folder. Many things that I already used unconsciously in my teaching I can now provide with a pedagogical context.

‘There was a larger diverse group of lecturers in the university track, and I especially benefited from the mutual feedback. It was here that I realised how many things one takes for granted within one’s own programme, things for which an outsider requires more explanation. The mutual discussion made it clear in what ways one’s programme and teaching are special, and which concepts could be revised if you looked at them from a distance. By better understanding which educational concepts my teaching corresponds with, I can now improve it in a more targeted way. In addition, I was able to learn about innovative ways of teaching from many enthusiastic colleagues from all over the university.’

In addition to the above seven lecturers, Adriaan Rademaker (Faculty of Humanities), Linda Holtman (Faculty of Science) and Sven Schiemanck (LUMC) received their Senior Teaching Qualification on 28 June.

Senior Teaching Qualification

The SKO is a qualification for lecturers who play a leading role in the development and innovation of education at the curriculum level (i.e. beyond their own discipline). To achieve this qualification, lecturers must put together a portfolio that shows that they meet four final learning objectives:

  1. Conduct within the academic teaching environment;
  2. Creating and elaborating a didactic programme with a view to the context of a curriculum;
  3. Preparing and providing teaching;
  4. Impact on education within one or more degree programmes that extends beyond one’s own teaching programme.

In addition, an SKO candidate must be a lecturer who already has a Basic Teaching Qualification (BKO), has taught at the university level for at least five years in various subjects and years, and has applied a variety of educational methods in doing so. In addition, the lecturer must show that they have developed initiatives and made contributions that have an educational impact within one or more degree programmes transcending their own course or discipline. You can read more about obtaining an SKO here..

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