ST24 – Making students strong and flexible from the beginning: The case of biomedical sciences.

Presentation
room c – tuesday 13:00-14:00

Annick Hayen; Monique Maelstaf
Prof. dr. Marcel Ameloot

Hasselt University/Department Education
Hasselt University/Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

Annick Hayen has a bachelor degree of teaching elementary school and a master in Educational Sciences. She works as a stafmember at central department of Education at Hasselt University. In an earlier job, she provided lectures in higher education (teacher education).

Monique Maelstaf has a master degree in Psychology. She coordinates a team of stafmembers at Hasselt University.

They support departments in curriculumdesign, assessment, innovations and diversity. They organise courses to train university teacher (individual and collective coaching of teachers engaged in developing pedagogical competences).

Prof. dr. Marcel Ameloot was trained as a physicist at the KU Leuven (Belgium). He obtained his PhD in 1984 at the Limburgs Universitair Centrum (now Hasselt University) on the topic of nanosecond fluorescence relaxations in artificial lipip membranes. He took a postdoctoral position at the Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, USA). Thereafter he obtained a permanent position at Hasselt University where he became full professor in 2000. Marcel Ameloot takes several administrative duties with respect to teaching and curriculum development, both in Physics and Biomedical Sciences.

Summary

Biomedical Sciences at the University of Hasselt is confronted with a double challenge.

Due to the vagueness of the profile and the uncertainty of the employment opportunities for a biomedical scientist the discipline attracts first year students with deficient learning competences and knowledge.

Consequences in the first year: demotivated students, no stimulating learning climate, high dropout rate, low social and academic involvement .

Abstract

Problem

In Belgium access to higher education is guaranteed without formal prerequisites or entrance exams (one exception: medical and dentistry studies) Free choice of university is the norm. In the competition for new students an explicit and clearly distinct profile is a necessity for all related curricula.

The bachelor in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Hasselt is confronted with a double challenge.

Due to the vagueness of the profile and the uncertainty of the employment opportunities for a biomedical scientist this bachelor discipline attracts first year students with deficient learning competences and knowledge.

Moreover the bachelor studies in biomedical sciences were (and still are) a simple and easy passage to the medical sciences for those students that didn’t pass their medical entrance exam. Students can switch from the first year biomedical sciences to the second year of medicine. The effect of this ‘unique’ year is a large number (over 50% of the student population) of so called “students-in-waiting”  putting their education on hold. These are students without genuine interest in biomedical sciences.

The consequences in the first year are unmistakable: demotivated students, no stimulating learning climate, high dropout rate and low social and academic involvement .

Challenge

After enrolling the learning outcomes and the learning paths of the bachelor program the educational organisation of the curriculum was redesigned. Basic assumption is getting from multidisciplinariy courses to interdisciplinarity: from a sum of disciplines to integrated disciplines, similar to reallife cases.

Great challenge: implementation of a personal development plan for academic and employability skills in a domain specific core curriculum. The educational concept of monitored self study stimulates the development of personal competencies and self reflection and in accordance with assessment.

The intended result: improve academic engagement, making students strong and flexible from the beginning.

Preparation time: 1 year, on short notice but also an opportunity because implementation and evaluation go hand in hand.

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