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‘The Senior Teaching Qualification allows you to reflect on your teaching and interact with other lecturers’

Fifteen passionate lecturers from Leiden University were awarded the Senior Teaching Qualification (SKO) on Thursday 27 January. One of them is Frank Takes, as of 1 February Associate Professor of Computer Science. For him the SKO was a good opportunity to reflect on how he teaches.

Senior lecturers who play an active role in teaching development and innovation are eligible for the SKO. This qualification shows that you are a strong educator who contributes to teaching development beyond your own subject or department.

‘It’s really easy to devote every spare moment to research,’ says Takes. ‘We all work hard. That’s part of the job. We often spend a lot of time writing papers and proposals. That sometimes takes weeks or months. But when do you have time to reflect on your teaching?’

Frank Takes

In the programme lecturers reflect on their teaching activities from the past few years. Takes: ‘What was the common thread? What have I learned and how has that helped me become a better teacher? Reflecting so that you can think at a metalevel about your own teaching; that’s what the SKO gives you the chance to do.’

Enormous differences

Alongside some much-needed reflection, it also gives you the chance to interact with colleagues from other disciplines. ‘You sit with peers who are also on the programme. They come from all over the University. It’s great to see what they think about teaching. You see that there are enormous differences. It gives you the chance to step outside your own world and kick ideas around with others. I found it really useful.’

Takes would definitely recommend the programme to other senior lecturers. ‘I thought the programme was well organised. There’s a professional trainer from ICLON (Leiden University Graduate School of Teaching) who instructs and motivates you and organises sessions to inspire you. I finally got the chance to look at the literature on teaching. You don’t usually do that. It’s a kind of break from your daily routine, especially if you usually have a big focus on research.’

‘If you’ve been teaching the same course for some time already, it can be easy, in your busy everyday life, to stick to the same format year in year out.’

During the programme lecturers discover new teaching methods. ‘If you’ve been teaching the same course for some time already, it can be easy, in your busy everyday life, to stick to the same format year in year out.’ The SKO programme opened my mind to new methods to try in a course.’

Takes not only wants to continue reflecting on how he teaches, but also hopes to inspire colleagues. ‘I would like to see if I can make other colleagues enthusiastic about thinking about teaching at a metalevel. Take a moment away from your busy everyday life and look at what we are all doing at this institution.’


Takes has one last tip for lecturers considering doing the SKO. ‘Go for it, but if you do, make sure to take the time for it. Otherwise there’s no point. It’s a useful programme and the inspiration you gain will definitely be relevant to your further career at the University.’

Senior Teaching Qualification

The Senior Teaching Qualification is a qualification for lecturers who play an active role in the development and innovation of the University’s teaching at the curriculum level, so beyond the limits of their own discipline. For the qualification lecturers have to make a portfolio that demonstrates they have achieved the four learning outcomes:

  1. Conduct within the academic teaching environment;
  2. Creating and elaborating on a teaching programme with a view to the context of a curriculum;
  3. Preparing and providing teaching;
  4. Having an impact on the teaching within one or more degree programmes that extends beyond your own teaching programme. 

In addition, lecturers must already be in possession of the Basic Teaching Qualification (BKO), have at least five years of experience teaching various university courses and year groups and have applied a variety of teaching methods. Lecturers must also show that they have recently developed initiatives or made contributions that have had an impact on the teaching on one or more degree programmes and that this impact was beyond their own course or discipline. Read more about the SKO..

The SKO certificates are awarded.

Fifteen driven lecturers were awarded the Senior Teaching Qualification (SKO) in an online ceremony on 27 January. Rector Magnificus Hester Bijl congratulated them.

Esther Huiskers
Bart Krans

Governance and Global Affairs
Maarja Beerkens

Paz Gonzalez Gonzalez
Liesbeth Minnaard
Krista Murchison

Social and Behavioural Sciences
Daisy Smeets

Stefano Cucurachi
Matthijs van Leeuwen
Marcel Schaaf
Frank Takes 

Yvonne Drewes
Mieke Mulder
Dorothea Touwen
Marion Stijntjes

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