SUTQ Symposium; What can the university learn and improve?

The SUTQ Symposium was the event that combined the work and innovations of the 20 teachers from various EUR faculties that undertook the Senior University Teaching Qualification.

On the 17th of February, the Senior University Teaching Qualification (SUTQ) Symposium took place. This symposium is the culmination of the work done by all the teachers that undergo the SUTQ course, that started in July 2021. The symposium offers the opportunity for teachers to share everything they have learnt and worked on during the SUTQ course, as well as interested parties to attend and discover the projects lead by the teachers and their innovative educational developments.

Goal of the symposium

The symposium of this year took place online, due to COVID restrictions. “Our aim this year was ‘to give back to the university’. Our SUTQ participants were working on an educational innovation during their trajectory, and we wanted them to share their main insights and lessons learned. That worked out very well.”, says Kris Stabel, Educational advisor at Risbo.

Sessions of the day

At the start of the symposium, the mission of the day was set out: through exploring the work of all SUTQ teachers, the common thread of formulating advice for the university would be present. The first interactive session that took place was entitled, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide through UnivEURsity”. The analogy of a university course being similar to a hitchhike guided this session- that similar to a hitchhike, a course has a destination. However, there are also pauses and stopovers- these offer you insights that might change the destination you had set when you embarked on the journey. As teachers, the goal is to help students navigate this journey by providing a sense of direction, but enough freedom to chart your own path. One method in which this can be done is through emphasizing the role of personal development in a course. Furthermore, involving the students in course design and activities provides them with ownership, which can motivate them and help them face uncertainties.

The session that followed was named “Bridging the Gap”. This session focused on discussing how to bridge the gap between innovators at the teaching level, and also the gap between them and the students that should benefit from these innovations. Furthermore, the bridging of different concepts within and between courses was discussed, and its importance emphasized. To do this, several suggestions were given, which included providing main learnings and general insights for all stakeholders to learn from and compare with each other. In addition to this, there was a focus on the future of education- what you want it to look like and what you can do to get there.

The third interactive session of the day was called “The teacher you remember most”. For this session, education’s three main domains of purpose as described by Biesta were explored: qualification, socialization and subjectification. Through the innovation project carried out, the main takeaway is that all three domains should be explored in education, not just qualification in the form of exams and assessments. In this, the teachers actually learned how to be students again, as they studied the best methods to incorporate the purposes of education in their teaching.

Finally, the day ended with the session entitled, “A case for case-based learning”. The final session focused on how case based learning provides a way for applying theoretical knowledge to practical, real-life problems. “Personally for me, the overall idea that our education should prepare our students for an unknown future. We can try to ‘fix’ or ‘anchor’ our expected outcomes in predestined learning goals, a fixed curriculum, high stakes assessments with required answers etc., but our future and the development of our students are not set in stone. We should treasure and utilize it more in our learning programs,” says Kris about the main takeaways from the symposium.

Takeaways for the future

At the end of the program, all the sessions were wrapped up and the pieces of the puzzle came together. “Our (SUTQ) participants were asked to distill their lessons learned and find out for themselves what would be relevant for the university. It was probably one of the first times in their career they had to think outside their department and faculty, and find a common ground with teachers from other schools and institutes. I had the impression that this challenge worked out well and it provided our teachers with a broader view on our university’s teaching practices and policies,” says Kris about his overall impression after the symposium.

Jeroen Jansz, Academic Director of the Community for Learning and Innovation, also notes the importance of the SUTQ training and final symposium, having said, "We want to provide innovative, excellent and effective education. There are many elements contributing to this, but the CLI approach is that it all starts with the lecturers. They are role models, and they are responsible for creating an active, academic learning environment. I am a big fan of the SUTQ course, because it combines personal reflection with didactical growth ánd educational innovation."

One of the attendees, Marloes Nederhand, adds about her experience, "It was inspiring to learn from the many different projects which colleagues from within EUR were involved to innovate their teaching. A common theme of the event was the value of sharing knowledge. It is great that the SUTQ program helped me doing so and I wish best of luck to all of next year’s participants!"

Overall, the symposium was an insightful collaboration between all SUTQ teachers. And although it was a one day event, the innovations discussed and applied will have impact far into the future.

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