Ectn working group developing independent learners in chemistry
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ECTN Working group Developing Independent Learners in Chemistry. Report Madrid Meeting 24-26 March 2006 Nata š a Brouwer Universiteit van Amsterdam. ECTN Annual Conference & ECTN Association Meeting 2006. life long learning. Eurobachelor competences. Eurobachelor students will.

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ECTN Working group Developing Independent Learners in Chemistry

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ECTN Working groupDeveloping Independent Learners in Chemistry

Report Madrid Meeting

24-26 March 2006

Nataša Brouwer

Universiteit van Amsterdam

ECTN Annual Conference & ECTN Association Meeting 2006

life long learning

Eurobachelor competences

Eurobachelor students will

  • have the ability to gather and interpret relevant scientific data and make judgements that include reflection on relevant scientific and ethical issues

  • have the ability to communicate information, ideas, problems and solutions to informed audiences

  • have competences which fit them for entry-level graduate employment in the general workplace, including the chemical industry

  • have developed those learning skills that are necessary for them to undertake further study with a sufficient degree of autonomy

Focus of the Madrid Meeting

  • organisation of education process

  • didactics (art of teaching)

  • assessment

  • computers and ICT

Organisation of educationprocess

  • How does the education process have to change?

  • What is the role of the teacher?

  • When should the development process begin?

  • Who is involved in developing independent learners?

Educational process



  • separated working forms

  • guided tutorials

  • closed experiments

flexible educational process




responsibility for own development

teaching methods that stimulate independent learning

dissemination of good practices


facilitation of educational change

teachers training

support: experts and funding

recognition of innovative teacher

Three actors in developing independent learners

2. Didactics (art of teaching)

  • Which teaching methods support the independent learning process?

  • How can practical courses help to develop independent learners?

  • Which skills need attention?

Teaching methods

  • interactive teaching approaches

    • integration of traditional teaching methods

    • open assignments, group work

  • problem oriented learning

  • scaffolding

  • research oriented lab courses

  • competence oriented teaching

    • knowledge, skills, attitudes

    • reflection and metacognition

Good practice: Studio course

UvA, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Good practice: Problem solving

  • cooperative learning in problem solving

    • group work

    • problem solver, sceptic, checker and recorder

    • rotation of roles

  • concept maps

  • positive interdependence

  • individual accountability: share of the work and mastering all material

  • face-to-face interaction

  • interpersonal skills: leadership, decision-making, communication and conflict management

  • self-assessment / reflection of group functioning

Department of Material and Earth Science, Polytechnic University of the Marche, Italy

Skills that need attention

Two documents in Bologna process

  • report of the project Tuning Educational Structures in Europe:

    • generic competences

    • subject-specific skills

    • cognitive abilities

  • The ECTN working group on Core Practical Skills (1999) defined the practical skills including working to deadlines, report writing, safety awareness and team work

    Working group: Developing independent learners in chemistry

  • generic competences and subject-specific skills and cognitive abilities should be developed during the subject-specific courses

  • from the first year of study

  • study skills include time management skills, thinking skills, working with others, and reflection skills needs attention

Focus of the Madrid Meeting

  • Organisation of education process

  • Didactics (Art of teaching)

  • Assessment

  • Computers and ICT

3. Assessment

  • Does the assessment process need to be adapted?

  • How can the problem of heterogeneous pre-knowledge of students be approached?

Assessment strategies

  • assessment strategies reflect the changes in teaching methods and integration of skills

  • competence based

  • self assessment

  • peer assessment

    more flexible curriculum

  • heterogeneous pre-knowledge


  • heterogeneous pre-knowledge

  • lack of pre-knowledge in mathematics a problem in chemistry courses

    brush up on pre-knowledge

  • student takes the responsibility

  • flexible

  • university makes opportunities at different stages in the curriculum

  • teachers and peers give feedback

Good practice: “Students’ Maths Learning Centre“

  • a drop-in centre that provides assistance with Maths

  • on line support system

  • encourages students to become independent autonomous learners

Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland

Good practice: “Brushing Up With the Web project“

  • joint project of three Dutch universities

  • flexible approach, different educational scenario’s

  • ICT

  • Special Interest Group on Math pre-knowledge

    Example Quantum chemistry:

  • just in time brush up on pre-knowledge in mathematics

  • regular self-assessment of pre-knowledge

  • on-line tests based on computer algebra

  • feed back on the process by the teacher

  • extra help by a tutor

UvA, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Good practice: “Brushing Up With the Web project“

UvA, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

4. Computers and ICT

The role of computers and ICT

  • communication synchronous, asynchronous

  • on line collaboration

  • resources: information management, literacy skills

  • computers as tools: simulations, modeling, solving real life open problems

  • tests and surveys, self-study quizzes

  • electronic learning platforms, 24/7 principle

Good practice: “European Virtual Seminar“

  • 16 universities

  • cases about sustained development in Europe

  • interdisciplinary groups

  • on line collaboration

Universities in Europe


I. Organisation of education process

  • education process changes from teacher-directed to student-directed

  • three actors are involved in this process: the student, the teacher and the faculty

  • development of independent learners begins in the first year of the programme of study

  • more recognition for the teacher and extra funding


II. Didactics

  • interactive learning approach, problem based and inquiry based learning

  • competence oriented and self directing education process

  • development of the generic and subject-specific skills integral part of the subject-specific courses.

  • feed back from teachers, coaches and peers on the development

  • scaffolding teaching strategy, especially in the first study year.

  • reflection and metacognition


III. Assessment

  • shift to competence based assessment

  • project reports and presentations on outcomes also part of the assessment process

  • concept mapping

  • special attention for heterogenic background knowledge


IV. Computers and ICT

  • access according to 24/7 principle

  • information management and literacy skills within subject-courses

  • different online resources including primary literature (evaluation of quality and relevance)

  • computers as research tools: real and more complex open problems.

  • time and place independent communication with peers, teachers and experts

  • online collaboration in interdisciplinary groups

  • online diagnostic tests to assess pre-knowledge

The working group

  • Dr Bill Byers: University of Ulster (Group Leader)

  • Prof Carlaxel AnderssonLund University

  • Dr Natasa BrouwerUniversity of Amsterdam

  • Prof Liberato CadelliniUniversita Politecnica delle Marche

  • Dr Peter ChildsUniversity of Limerick

  • Dr Odilla FinlaysonDublin City University

  • Dr Claire McDonnellDublin Institute of Technology

  • Dr Ilka ParchmannUniversity of Oldenburg

  • Prof Jesus SantamariaComplutense University, Madrid

  • Prof Kristiina WahalaUniversity of Helsinki

  • Dr Hazel WilkinsRobert Gordon University

  • Dr Jonny WoodwardUniversity of Leicester

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