From Tuesday, October 16th to Thursday, October 18th, the fifth UNIS Learning Forum took place with 45 participants across the different departments. A variety of themes with different disciplinary perspectives was covered.
This year’s Learning Forum aimed primarily at promoting a collegial teaching practice. Eleven members of the academic staff shared experiences and thoughts on different teaching and learning methods and aspects of course planning and organization – like workload, use of scientific literature in courses, preparation and structuring of field-work, different aspects of conducting student research projects and evaluation of the research process. This led to many lively discussions, valuable feedbacks and a closer understanding of what and how colleagues are working and dealing with different teaching and learning matters. The staff expressed satisfaction with those sharing sessions and the opportunity to discuss aspects of teaching practice. Many of us got new ideas, which we hope will be tested and developed.
Two different workshops were held with focus on 1) how to improve students writing (led by Janet Holmén) and 2) Strategies for improving collegial feedback and evaluation (led by Mark Furze). Janet Holmén is an editor, translator and teacher of scientific writing, and has her basic training in biology, chemistry and earth sciences. Janet also held a very nice and fun plenary presentation on how – and how not to – give an oral presentation. Mark Furze is a professor at the Arctic Geology Department and has previously been working at the MacEwan University, Canada. There he gained experience with collegial feedback and evaluation systems. His workshop gave an interesting insight into two such systems and discussed the purposes as well as advantages and disadvantages of both systems.
Several plenary talks were given throughout the two-and-a-half days of the learning forum. One of them by our bioCEED PhD student Torstein Hole, who presented his work on field teaching. Pernille Bronken Eidesen gave an update on the status of bioCEED and ongoing bioCEED projects at UNIS. Lena Håkansson presented news from iEARTH – an initiative aiming at becoming a SFU in geology, which has already several ongoing projects.
This year, also the student representatives from bioCEED were invited and participated, both with a plenum presentation on the student lead project bioBreakfast on UNIS, and as attendants within the different sessions as well. As they expressed afterwards:
“I am glad I got the chance to get more knowledge about both writing, learning and presenting at the Learning Forum. This will be very helpful later in my education and working life”.
“I think it is important for students to also take part at the Learning Forum, both to get their perspective on matters related to their learning and to activate the students more in their own learning. This can be an important step towards having students as partners, allowing them to be more engaged in their own education, and result might be improvements of the education”.