Renske is tutor and course coordinator for the health sciences bachelor programme and has been involved with the implementation of the Twente Educational Model (TOM) since February 2013. Prior to this, she was working on her doctoral research full-time. She currently works on her research two days a week and spends the other three working on education. Renske enjoys the variation in her work. She has studied at Maastricht University, where she has experienced the problem-based learning model, which makes use of tutors as well. Her experience has proved to be very useful for establishing the new tutor groups and being a tutor herself at the University of Twente.
Weekly tutor meetings
The first module has weekly tutor meetings, with one tutor assisting three project groups at the same time. The programme board has assigned four students to every project group. Within the health sciences programme, tutors are mainly meant to assist students in the process rather than to provide substantive advice. Renske says this means the role of the teacher is going to change: as a tutor, you are to focus on the process of working as a group rather than to convey knowledge. “I believe the main challenge for the teachers is to take a step back, as you do want to help your students along if you know where they should be looking.” However, this would exactly go against the goal of the project: having the students find their own way. The project assignments do not have one final solution. Furthermore, “the more you give answers to them, the more a student assumes a dependent attitude and relies on you.”
Granting the students responsibility fosters their academic attitude. Renske therefore believes project-based education is a great way to have students develop this attitude. The students will have to find their sources of knowledge themselves. The first few tutor meetings, the students still found this rather challenging and difficult. “The students were aware things are different here than in secondary school. They had some difficulty with not being presented with the relevant information on a silver platter, but they did realize this is part of studying at a university.” It took just one week for the students to learn how to cope. “The students were enthusiastically working on the subject and meeting each other to arrange all sorts of matters.” This proved to be a necessity, for they were required to present their group findings by the end of the third week.
Field and alumni
Two Q&A sessions with health sciences alumni were held in the first week to help students obtain a clearer image of their future academic field. "Both the students and alumni were very pleased with these sessions, so the sessions are sure to stay!" A number of students stated they had some difficulty with not knowing exactly what was expected of them for the project. One alumnus answered that the same now applies to his job: goals and methods of his assignments are not always clear, forcing him to look for information and frameworks.
Working on such a project therefore provides a realistic image of what is expected of alumni in the field.
Renske is very curious as to the effect TOM will have on the students and is eager to find out whether the 'new' students have acquired a different attitude by the end of the module than their seniors have. She is very enthusiastic about the model and advises all other teachers to show this enthusiasm. If the teacher is enthusiastic, it will rub off on the students!