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Every group of students their own screen

Last year Jasper van Winden (biology lecturer1 at Utrecht University) flipped his course Wetenschapper in advies (Scientist advisor) for the first time, but ran into unsuitable rooms. So this year he used the Teaching & Learning Lab to teach the course. The flexibility of the furniture and the equipment mean that Jasper would not want to teach the course anywhere else.

About the course

In the course ‘Wetenschapper in advies’ third-year biology students perform projects for real customers. To guide them in this process, they follow all kinds of workshops, for example on interview techniques, formulating a problem, writing a plan of action, and project management. In the workshops students put theory that they previously studied online (flipped classroom) into practice. They practice skills or apply them for real in their own project.

Interactive group work

Photo: Ivar Pel

In the course the students work in groups. “That was the reason to use the TLL. The TLL is really suitable for group work, because you are free to arrange the furniture and the equipment to suit yourself,” as Jasper says.

One thing Jasper did for the group work was to use six screens in the TLL, so that each group of students had their own screen. Jasper did not stand in front of the class, but in the middle of the room. “I used this so-called Active Learning Classroom as the basic set-up, and that was the greatest added value of the TLL. Name another room you can do that. There isn’t one at the Uithof.”

The set-up allowed the students to interact more with each other and with the lecturer. The seating/standing tables also proved to support the group dynamics.

Breeding ground for new ideas

The TLL provides a lot of freedom. Jasper calls on other lecturers to make good use of that, and make deliberate choices on how to arrange the classroom. He also suggests to discuss the possibilities with other lecturers. “I really see the TLL as a breeding ground for new ideas that can help the university. I’m really pleased that we have this kind of facility here at the university.”

“I wouldn’t teach it anywhere else”

All in all the TLL is a very nice place to teach. When asked whether he wants to teach the course in the TLL again next year, Jasper answers: “I wouldn’t teach it anywhere else. So either the lecture rooms at the university will need to change or I want to return to the TLL. I really don’t want to go back to the old situation.”

1 As well as a Biology lecturer, Jasper is also a coordinator of the Science Educate-it programme and programme manager at the TLL.

Author: Miranda Overbeek (Freudenthal Institute)