W26 – Making students strong and flexible from the beginning: The case of biomedical sciences.

Presentation
Room E – Wednesday 09:00-10:00

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 freshmen 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

The 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 freshmen 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 .

Proposed solution

In June 2014, installation of a taskforce with extended authority to prepare the work of the regular Education Management Team of Biomedical Sciences. One third of the EMT are student members.

Based on input stakeholders (students, teachers, employers) the taskforce has developed the framework of the new curriculum.

The transition to medicine is no longer a condition. Clear communication, new summer courses and other teasers reinforce the network with secondary schools and teachers of possible future students.

A biomedical scientist is a catalyst between different actors in healthcare. With his scientific expertise he can monitor the future in the whole range of prevention, diagnosis and therapy. This sharper profile and the expected multi- and interdisciplinarity should be reflected in the curriculum.

Having the new profile in mind, former not validated learning outcomes were replaced by unique biomedical objectives that are more oriented towards employability skills.

Through a backward chaining analysis, learning paths of the bachelor program were developed.  Supply knowledge will be limited and there will be more focus on the core themes. Academic and employability kills are embedded in all interdisciplinary courses of the core curriculum. Supporting knowledge and domain-specific knowledge are integrated and offered just-in-time. The educational concept stimulates development of personal competences and self reflection and is in accordance with the assessment.

This blueprint was completed by budgeting the study load. To manage the intended competence development every learning path has a coordinator. He bridges the gap between individual teachers of all courses in a learning path and gives feedback to the Education Management Team.

Intended deadline for implementation: September 2015

The reality check will occurs in 2015-2016.

Does the intended new learning path fit with the potential of the incoming students?

Are the start requirements and the learning paths realistic ?

Do the students show more academic engagement?

 

Interaction

–       Are the proposed solutions an efficient way to increase motivation and learning skills in the first year?

–       How to deal with the diversity of the incoming students?

–       Is social cohesion both by students and staff a necessary condition of academic success?

 

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