In this month's issue of 'My TOM', the students have their say. Two first-year students talk about their experiences with the Twente Educational Model (TOM). Lisa Verhoeven from Amsterdam is a Biomedical Technology student and Dirk van Teijlingen from Leiden is a Chemical Engineering student. Lisa and Dirk now live on campus and are happy with their programmes. In addition to their studies, they are both active in their study association and play a sport: Lisa plays hockey and Dirk is a rower.
The new bachelor's programmes in line with the TOM principles have been set up in such a way that students can study full-time. Nevertheless, both Lisa and Dirk are a member of their respective study associations. "It is certainly very busy, you cannot do everything," admits Dirk. Lisa agrees: "You have to make choices; sometimes you need to spend more time studying and sometimes you can do more fun things." Both indicate that two groups have emerged within their educational programmes: the active students and the students who are only concerned with their studies. "There is one group that is fairly active and, for example, does a lot of work for the information team, and one group that really has trouble keeping up with everything," says Dirk.
TOM has been incorporated in the Biomedical Technology programme for three years now, so when Lisa joined the programme for one day last year, she saw how it was structured. "I knew that I would have many contact hours." For Dirk, the situation was different; this is the first year of TOM for Chemical Engineering and what Dirk noticed was that the programme was larger in scale than last year. "I now spend much of my time in large lecture theatres with 150 students who are all enrolled in different programmes." Dirk would prefer to see a bit more variation in the lectures. For example, he would welcome shorter lectures and group work from an earlier stage. Lisa says that the Biomedical Technology programme is more varied, and that only mathematics has many students at the same time.
"In other parts of the module, we have good contact with both the lecturers and the tutors." The large-scale lectures make things more impersonal. "Not that they are not interesting, they are just more impersonal," says Lisa.
According to Lisa and Dirk, the timetabling of the programmes could be improved. "Sometimes we have a lecture in the Spiegel building, followed by a tutorial with the same teacher in the Horst building." Both students have the Horst building as their 'home base', and they would prefer to have all their educational engagements there. They would also like to have a room for their own year, so they would always have a place to study. "We can always find a few spaces available, but these are all in the library or in the Bastille building." If there was a room specifically for our year, you would have other students present to ask questions and you would sit close to the lecturers.
A positive aspect of TOM is the project. "I think it is really nice that the projects correspond to the subject matter we learn and the lectures we attend," says Dirk. Both Lisa and Dirk are positive about that coherence. "For example, you have to use your newly-acquired mathematical skills for other parts of the module and for the project. In that way, you keep up with all the subject matter at the same time," says Lisa. Lisa is also positive about the collaboration within projects. "I learn very much from working together with all kinds of different people. I think this is an advantage compared to other universities."
A piece of advice Lisa and Dirk would like to give to their fellow students is to keep doing fun things. "If you unwind, even though you do not always have the time to do so, you remain motivated to work hard."