Stimulating innovation in academic education

Five projects approved by the Utrecht Education Incentive Fund

In order to continue innovating and improving its education, Utrecht University (UU) annually makes funds available for innovative projects which contribute to the development of academic education. The assessment committee of the Utrecht Education Incentive Fund (Utrechts Stimuleringsfonds Onderwijs, USO) has selected five university-wide projects which focus on innovation in peer feedback, interdisciplinary collaboration, co-creation using innovative learning and communication tools, physical learning environments and the development of an interdisciplinary minor. In addition to innovation projects, proposals for the implementation of (USO) innovation results from one faculty in another faculty could also be submitted for the first time this year. Read more about the selected projects.

Inclusion and community building through peer feedback on language skills

The project 'Improving academic language skills: peer feedback from native speakers’ (referred to hereafter as Peer Feedback) is being expanded to the Faculties of Law, Economics and Governance and Social and Behavioural Sciences. At the same time, the innovation is being enhanced to include a buddy component for international students and a broader range of languages at the basic level. Within this broader Peer Feedback/Buddy approach, Dutch students will receive peer feedback from international students (native speakers) with regard to their language skills and, in turn, these Dutch students will be used as buddies for the participating international students.

Contact person: Pauline Hörmann (Law, Economics and Governance)

TIC TO TIC: Thematic Interdisciplinary Challenge TO Teach, Inspire and Change

This project aims to develop a UU-wide course concept in which Bachelor’s and Master’s students and Life-Long Learners (cross-level learning) from various disciplines collaborate on innovative solutions for issues which are put forward by social partners based on the strategic themes. This type of education is known as the Thematic Interdisciplinary Challenge (TIC). Co-creation is also applied in the concept.

Contact person: Mariet Hefting (Science)

Interdisciplinary Bachelor's course in the living past, new media and ICT

The aim of this project is to enable Bachelor's students to work on demand-driven, societal challenges in interdisciplinary teams and to bring them into contact with digital learning and communication tools. On behalf of stakeholders (including the Utrecht Archives) from the city of Utrecht, students of computer science, geosciences, humanities, social sciences and liberal arts and sciences are researching the social and historical values of urban heritage. The students then translate these values into stories which they shape with the aid of databases linked to augmented reality technology (AR) and citizen science. The project stimulates advanced digital literacy, cultural literacy and historical awareness among UU students. The course is being developed in co-creation with students and the teaching will take place in the Teaching & Learning Lab.

Contact person: Toine Pieters (Science)

Away from the limiting classroom: towards an integrated educational design, including supportive learning spaces

It seems that the physical learning environment has an impact on learning. This project provides insights into the question as to which kinds of stimulating didactics are possible without being hindered by a limiting classroom. In the project, nine lecturers redesign their course to ensure its optimal alignment with the learning objectives. The limiting classroom is disregarded during this process. They then design or select learning spaces which enable these learning activities. An increase in student interaction is the primary measure of success for these interventions; these are measured by means of questionnaires, focus group discussions and lesson observations. The project will produce a Learning Spaces handbook containing evidence-informed practices for facilitating interaction in and by means of an educational space.

Contact person: Jasper van Winden (Science)

Interdisciplinary Medical Humanities minor

A minor is being developed on the basis of successful previous collaborations between Humanities and Medicine in the field of medical humanities and in view of the changing healthcare sector and the associated shift in activities. The minor prepares Humanities and Medical students and professionals who have already graduated in the fields of care and health for important developments in healthcare. In the minor, pairs of Medicine and Humanities lecturers will organise courses on four themes: History and philosophy of medicine; Health, Technology, AI, big data and ethics; Health and (intercultural) communication and Art, health and disease.

Contact person: Tessa van Charldorp (Humanities) & Stefan van Geelen (Medicine)

Utrecht enables educational innovation

The university launched the Utrecht Education Incentive Fund (USO) in 2012. This enables the university to allow lecturers to innovate their own teaching. By means of the fund, the university underlines the importance which it attaches to high-quality education and supports good teaching. Every year, €1 million is available for university-wide projects, each funded to a maximum of €250,000. The project proposals are assessed by a committee answering to the Board of the Centre for Academic Teaching (CAT). In addition to the university-wide projects, the university makes 1 million euros available annually for small-scale, faculty projects. (Teams of) lecturers will be able to submit new proposals at the end of 2019 and the call will be published in June. Click here for more information about the options for submitting a proposal.