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Four Comenius teaching awards for Leiden lecturers

Two lecturers from Leiden University have received a Comenius teaching award of 100,000 euros as part of the Senior Fellows programme. And a further three lecturers, two of whom are partner researchers, have received awards of 50,000 euros within the Teaching Fellows programme. The grants will allow them and their project teams to carry out an innovation project in their own teaching.

The Comenius Teaching awards are presented  annually to educational professionals in higher education (research universities and universities of applied sciences) to promote innovation in education. The awards are funded by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, whose aim is to visibly recognise excellent and inspiring teaching. The programme is implemented by the Netherlands Initiative for Education Research (NRO). Every year, 66 grants are awarded, 40 of which are in the Teaching Fellows programme, 22 in the Senior Fellows programme and 4 in the Leadership Fellows programme. The recipients are appointed to the national Comenius Network, a network of educational innovators in higher education.

This year, education professionals were invited to submit proposals on the themes of the accessibility of higher education, well-being in higher education, working on the challenges of the future and promoting a sustainable future. From Leiden University, the proposals by lecturers Karin Nijenhuis, Lucie Zicha, Max van Lent, Markus Davidsen and Michaël van der Meer were honoured. You can view the complete list of award winners and their project descriptions.

Karin Nijenhuis – Senior Lecturer and Chair of the MA in African Studies (African Studies Centre Leiden)

Senior Fellowship Project: Feel connected! The integration of dialogue as a teaching method in higher education to improve student well-being
Thema: Well-being in Higher Education

Nijenhuis on her project: ‘Even post-covid many students are still experiencing mental health problems. With this project I aim to integrate dialogue as an educational method in existing courses in order for students to feel more connected with each other and for their well-being to improve durably. The dialogue method developed by philosopher and quantum physicist David Bohm is a structured and attentive conversation based on set rules, allowing different perspectives to be presented and acknowledged. Participants consequently feel heard and seen, and room is created for connection and new insights.’

Lucie Zicha – Assistant Professor of Quantitative Research Methods (Leiden University College The Hague)

Teaching Fellowship Project: Building Statistical Literacy through Replication
Theme: Accessibility in Higher Education

Zicha on her project: ‘With an increasing emphasis on evidence-based problem solving, developing solid statistical literacy and practical scientific reasoning is paramount for all students that walk through the doors of the university, and not reserved for only those with abstract mathematical talents. In my project I use the replication of quantitative research as a teaching approach to help students of all mathematical backgrounds to think through the intricacies of real research problems and scientific evidence. The project goal is to develop teaching tools, resources, and approaches to deploy and improve accessibility of statistical replication projects at all levels of undergraduate QRM education.’

Max van Lent – Assistant Professor of Economics (Institute of Tax Law and Economics)

Senior Fellowship Project: The First Generation Students track
Theme: Accessibility in Higher Education

Van Lent on his project: ‘Many first generation students (FGS) have a disadvantage when they start studying in higher education. This results in a greater drop-out probability, lower study performance, and a worse position in the labour market. I will develop and implement an FGS track within an existing mentoring programme. The goal of this project is to reduce the inequality of opportunity. The project consists of three modules that aim to address three different types of disadvantages: the home situation (about how to deal with the home environment), social capital, and future-oriented studying.’

Markus Davidsen - University Lecturer in Sociology of Religion (Leiden Centre for the Study of Religion)
Michaël van der Meer – Lecturer at ICLON

Teaching Fellowship Project: A religious studies-based methodology for teacher training in religious education: World-centred education for a pluralistic society
Thema: Fit for the future

Davidsen on the project: ‘This project develops a new, study-of-religion-based methodology in response to the urgent need in teacher training and secondary education for objective and pluralistic religious education (RE). The new methodology offers our students the analytical and didactical tools they need to teach pupils to examine religious texts and religious practices in an inquisitive and comparative manner. During the project, our students – future RE teachers – practise using the new methodology in their own teaching and in the crafting of teaching material. A resonance board of teacher trainers provides feedback at intervals during the project.’

Would you like more information about the Comenius awards or are you interested in submitting a proposal yourself? Leiden University provides guidance for lecturers in preparing their innovation proposal. For questions about the scholarship and the procedure, please contact Anna Terra Verhage, Strategy and Academic Affairs. You can also view the general Comenius awards page with more information about the awards and the procedure.

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