Belgian Physics Society Annual Scientific Meeting edition:2015 location:Liège, Belgium date:13 May 2015
All programmes in higher education aim at enabling students to become independent, critical-thinking professionals. In higher physics education this is no different. However, procrastination behaviour, a tendency to superficial learning and the fact that people remember only 10 to 30% of traditionally taught concepts are inherent to learning in any traditional educational context.
During the last five years, the Faculty of Science at the University of Leuven (KU Leuven) investigated the potential of changing curriculum design to tackle this problem and improve learning. After a thorough preparation by integrating existing academic research and own in-field experience, an ultimate curriculum design within the boundary conditions was defined. This alternative approach, named Onderwijsorganisatie met Alternatieve Semesterindeling en Evaluatie (OASE), was implemented in September 2013 in the first year of the physics and mathematics programmes and entails the following components. First, at a curriculum level, the typical number of different courses programmed a day is decreased to only one, allowing optimal concentration on this course. Additionally, two weeks of the exam study period at the end of each semester are repurposed for teaching and guided studying. Second, at the course level, contact hours are reduced and students are activated to study in the free time to improve study efficiency. Third, during contact hours interactive-engagement methods are applied to allow students to actively process new knowledge and skills. Fourth, continuous assessment evaluates the extent to which students reach curriculum goals, activates students and provides regular feedback.
Before as well as after implementation, the students’ learning process and the didactical teams’ experiences have been monitored, and success rate, motivational aspects and retention of knowledge and skills have been measured. Also, the general consent by students and didactical teams has been surveyed. After 1.5 years of implementation preliminary results can be presented.