All Bachelor programmes at the University of Twente work with TOM. What makes this particular way of learning and teaching special?
Education is structured into coherent modules
To show students how the components relate to each other and how bringing different fields of knowledge together can lead to new knowledge, we work using thematic modules worth 15 credits. Each module focuses on a particular project.
The programme consists of 12 modules worth 15 credits. The modules can be categorised into 3 phases:
1. Modules 1-6 form the basis, modules 1 + 2 having a selective and referring role, so that students can tell whether they are in the right place in the programme they have chosen.
2. Modules 7+8 are, where relevant, the elective components within the relevant discipline; modules 9+10 are the free-choice elective components (minor / preparation for Master’s programme). Here, students have the freedom to specialise or develop their own interests and talents.
3. Modules 11 + 12 cover the graduation phase in which the final project is accompanied by other educational activities. Part of the teaching in this semester is intended for reflection and academic education, so that students also learn to reflect on what impact their research or product may have.
Content of the modules
The programme management determines the curriculum within each module. This is described in the programme-specific Teaching and Examination Regulations. The study programme may decide, on the basis of content-related or practical considerations, to design a module as a complete package of integrated educational activities, or as a complete package of related educational activities that are assessed and concluded independently of each other. Each module involves working on a project. Project-based working keeps the students active and gives them the opportunity to delve deeper into other areas.
- The projects show students how the components in their own field of study are related to each other and to other fields. Through shared projects, they also become familiar with other disciplines (T-shaped). The project is accompanied by teaching activities. Students are more motivated to learn because they experience directly why they need particular knowledge and skills (purpose).
- The use of a variety of teaching methods promotes an active attitude among the students. Even lectures for large groups also provide as much active education as possible.
- Motivation is important as a key aspect of making students responsible for their own development. The modules focus on the key requirements for intrinsic motivation: students are provided with a basic foundation of important knowledge and skills (competence), they have scope for their own input in terms of content, the teaching methods or planning (autonomy), and they are part of the community within their programme (relation).
- The University of Twente seeks to prepare students for a future in which they will work with people from other disciplines. In cases where there are content-related motivations for joint modules, certain module components or projects are shared between multiple programmes, giving students the opportunity to become familiar with working in interdisciplinary teams. Efficiency can be another reason for joint education.
The extent to which a project is structured depends on the particular programme, the location of the respective module in this programme and the learning objectives of the module. During a structured project all students are given the same assignments and the theory is offered in other module units that run parallel to the project. This knowledge is applied in the project. During an open project a lot of information is available within the context of the project, possibly preselected by teachers, and students can take on several activities that are required to successfully complete the project. Students can determine whether they want to employ the preselected sources and learning activities provided by the teachers to achieve the learning objectives, or select other sources or activities on their own. Proper tutoring is key here. During the project the students will receive feedback from the teachers, regarding the content.
The movies below show two examples of a project
Courses of learning
In all of the Twente bachelor programmes, academic reflection focuses on the relations between science, technology and society, in order to stimulate a reflexive and responsible academic attitude. 10 EC of the total 15 EC academic Bildung in each programme consists of REflection on Science Technology and Society (RESTS). The programme management chooses in which module or modules this subject is incorporated.
The strength of the Twente approach is the close connection between education in academic reflection and the discipline specific content of the programmes. Rather than offering generic courses in history, sociology, philosophy or ethics, the University of Twente chooses to use the concrete content of the individual programmes as a starting point and a basis to build upon. For Twente academics, reflection on the relations between science, technology and society belongs to their central competences. Raising reflexive questions naturally and 'from within' is fully integrated in their academic training.
The technical degree programmes participate in a joint mathematics course of learning. Every year, the programme director of mathematics and the programme directors of the participating programmes ensure that the mathematics course of learning is attuned to the content of the programmes as much as possible. The same goes for the joint Methods and Technologies course of learning for the social sciences.
Assessment within modules
To make students responsible for their own learning process, it is important to provide them with information about their learning. By receiving regular feedback, students can modify their learning process or product if necessary.
- There are different ways of informing students, including oral or written feedback, (diagnostic) tests and peer feedback.
- The final grade of an integrated module is calculated, based on the various assessments results in the module. How this is done, can differ between modules.
- By indicating which knowledge, skills and attitude are being provided, how these are related to each other and what their value is (expressed in credits), the students can see what is expected of them.
Organisation within modules
Education is organised into modules; teachers work together to provide education in module teams. In addition to the role of the teacher as expert, coach and provider of inspiration, there are two important roles in the module:
- Teachers work together to design and implement the module. One of the teachers coordinates this process in the role of module coordinator, and ensures that the module as a whole is cohesive. There can also be a separate project coordinator.
- Student groups are supervised by a tutor for the project. The tutor has an important role in the student's learning process by acting as a coach for his or her students.