Challenge-based learning gives the student room
Getting the most out of your degree programme. Making sure you become the professional you want to be. How do you do that? Academic career coaching is then often the answer. But not at the jubilating Nutrition and Dietetics degree programme. Last academic year, lecturers from that degree programme, Linda Kruese, Lucita Couto-Gestal and Memon Boukiour, developed challenge-based learning. Students from all years of study were involved. There are still a number of development tasks waiting.
Challenge-based learning: a challenging method of education that offers students the opportunity to discover their unique selling points. With the 75th anniversary celebrations, Nutrition and Dietetics introduced students, graduates and other guests to this innovative educational method in a workshop.
Discovering your own talent. That is what it is all about in challenge-based learning. But not only that. Linda Kruese: “Getting to know yourself should present a challenge. Then discovery becomes experimentation.” The challenges students can apply to are: The Hague 100,000 times fitter’, ‘Consumer information: honest information’, ‘Sustainability: The Hague eats themselves green’, ‘Digital Health’ and ‘Eat Together, Live Together’. With these challenges, the degree programme wants to show that there are more possibilities for students than just becoming a practitioner.
Each student applies to one of the challenges and gives it their own interpretation. By tackling such a challenge, students get to know themselves better and see how they can offer added value to their fellow students or – broadly – to society in The Hague.
The challenge hours are ‘normal’ lecture hours and yet exceptional. One student expressed it as such: “The challenge I took on in the context of ‘The Hague 100,000 times fitter’ gives me the room to focus on mental health. Together with a fellow student, I provide information on that in primary schools in The Hague.”
We have a chat with Linda Kruese and second-year student Michiel Moerman. Linda: “What inspires me is that you get back even more from students than the high expectations you already have of them. Recently, on a Tuesday we told first-year students that they had to organise a complete event for that Thursday. That is asking a lot of them. When, on Thursday, I see what they have achieved, I feel proud.
Michiel took on the challenge last year. “With somewhat limited help, but that was fine. It made me realise that I could do a lot more than I thought. You just have to be willing to use each other’s strengths and to complement each other’s weaknesses.” Linda Kruese explains why she has ‘embedded’ the challenge in the degree programme: “Cognitive learning is still often at the forefront in universities of applied sciences’ degree programmes. We want to encourage students to use their creativity, to think based on the needs of others and to use their knowledge that way.”
Together with Memon Boukiour, she now faces the challenge to keep challenging the second-year students, too. Michiel: “As second-year student, I am now a coach and project manager of a first-year student. It would be great if I could give my own challenge some more depth this year.” Linda: “That’s true. We want to add more layers of complexity to the projects.”
The challenges have a follow up. “A group of students is now developing their own product. Wouldn’t it be great if a business arose from that? Job opportunities. I can also envisage that later on our graduates come to us with an idea for a challenge. But, for that we do need to keep our challenge-based learning appealing to all our network partners. Talk about a challenge….”