At the School of Education in Innsbruck, Austria

Uni_Logo_IUBKSpecific co-operations are planned within areas of Didactics at the School of Education in Innsbruck.

The main focus will be on designing an assessment grid that can be used by all lecturers teaching on the Middle Module of Languages Didactics. The aim is to enhance transparency for students and provide a framework for teaching staff leaving scope for individual course focus. Bringing in the student voice at different stages of discussions is an essential aspect as is the inclusion of perspectives from Quality Management.

Initial discussions with individual students asking whether they might be interested in collaborating and bringing in opinions on assessment have been met with a high level of enthusiasm and also surprise  – at being asked.

The Quality Manager involved in SPEAQ has previously worked on similar initiatives within other departments and, in fact, assessment strategies are a central part of his main professional activities. It is noticeable that there is very little general awareness of his rôle.

The second initiative is to start up co-ordination on course development between Languages and Science Didactics in the area of CLIL. Discussions to find a common point of interest and common approaches to learning materials have been opened.

Christine Lechner,
University of Innsbruck

Advertisements

Joint Austrian-Hungarian SPEAQ workshop at the University of Szeged, Hungary

200px-Seal_of_the_University_of_Szeged_colorKlara Szabo from the University of Szeged and Christine Lechner from the University of Innsbruck held a joint Austrian-Hungarian SPEAQ workshop with a group of students and course teachers. The workshop took place from 8.30 to 10.00 on April 17th, 2013 in Classroom 6123 of the Faculty of Education. There was a total of 32 participants in the workshop, 27 students and 5 course teachers. The teachers were members of the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures, the students were 1st year and 2nd year communication students. Four presentations were held, two of these were given by SPEAQ institutional coordinators, Christine Lechner (Innsbruck) and Klára Szabó (Szeged). Two Szeged University students, Eszter Farda and Zsuzsanna Nagy summarized their findings of the mini project interviews. They had been involved in interviewing members of teaching staff and university management at the University of Szeged. The workshop was a successful dissemination event. On the one hand, it provided an opportunity to disseminate the overall project, the findings from Year 1 as the European project landscape to the group.

Uni_Logo_IUBK

On the other hand, the event was useful for Klara Szabo to kick-off the Szeged Year 2 project, to enable two groups of students to learn more about quality in general and about the SPEAQ project in particular. It was also useful for Christine Lechner to ask Szeged students how they would view being asked to collaborate on the design of an assessment scale, what they would see as important. The workshop ended with a free exchange of ideas on quality in higher education and on student involvement in quality assessment.

Klára Szabó,
University of Szeged, Hungary
Christine Lechner,
University of Innsbruck, Austria

News from the university of Jyväskylä, Finland

jyvaskala_text_500

The first three months of the ongoing year have been marked by two main activities related to the SPEAQ project, namely, a self-assessment of our language centre teaching with students, teachers, and quality managers, and the start of the institutional project with reflective practices by teachers and students. The former was done as a preliminary step for the national audit of teaching at HE level to be conducted in January 2015. Strengths, weaknesses, and development areas were identified in the interactive workshop, to be followed by a more detailed strategic development plan for the time before the audit. What was particularly interesting were the comments by students – at first some of them were not quite sure what they might have to contribute to such a task, but in the end commented on how much they had learnt about how our centre operates and pursues the quality of teaching and learning. As some of you might know, our main mission is to cater for the discipline-specific and scientific language and communication skills training to students of non-language disciplines, required for all degrees in the mother tongue, second domestic language, and one-two foreign languages. This requires close co-operation with subject departments, as much of the teaching is integrated with discipline studies.

As regards our institutional project within SPEAQ, then, it is being implemented along our staff development programme in teaching academic content through English (TACE), i.e. a university pedagogical in-service programme for staff involved in English-medium teaching of their disciplines. We offer this training to promote the quality of internationalisation, which is the second main mission of our language centre. Last year’s  participants – both international and Finnish members of staff – are in the process of writing their reflective reports on their teaching experiments, using the LANQUA Quality Model as the framework.  We are eagerly waiting for these reports, due in early May.

Dr Anne Räsanen
Senior Lecturer in English
University of Jyväskylä Language Centre

SPEAQ at LINQ 2013!

LINQ_2013_logo_animatedIt is official: SPEAQ has been invited to take part in the LINQ 2013 conference in Rome on 16-17 May 2013.

The motto of LINQ 2013 is:

Learning Innovations and Quality:
“The Future of Digital Resources”

The LINQ conference is addressing Innovations and Quality in Lifelong Learning, Education and Training: potential points of access to this field include new learning methods and design, Technology-Enhanced Learning, quality standards and certification, human resources development, competences and skills, digital resources, learning materials, and online collaboration and communities.

See the current programme of LINQ 2013 here.

To find out more go to http://www.learning-innovations.eu/

Students’ views from Cluj, Babeş-Bolyai University, Romania

Cluj univAs a follow-up activity to the peer-to-peer student mentoring project proper, which engaged second-year mentors and first-year mentees, we organized a focus group with the second-year student mentors on April 4th, 2013.

Yellow, blue and green post-its were waiting patiently to be filled-in with the mentors’ expectations, disappointments (accompanied by suggestions for improvement), and pleasant surprises from the activity they had just completed. Honing one’s communicative skills, a heightened sense of responsibility, and living a new experience came top of the expectations list, as well as the prospect of making new, real friends – there is life beyond Facebook after all! Nostalgic stepping into a first year student’s shoes was also on the wishlist, as well as a genuine desire to practice altruism.

When hopes are high, some degree of disappointment is inevitable. We discussed what could be done to improve the schedule of the mentor-mentee meetings, to raise the mentees’ awareness regarding the way they relate to their mentors, with the possibility of selecting, at the beginning of the university year, those first-year students who are willing to be guided. Thus, the misperception of a yet-another-compulsory-activity would be avoided and the mentor would not feel his/her counselling position dangerously questioned.

Other issues concerning the mentors’ selection, the type of extra input needed from the teachers or/and the secretary office, so that a better structuring of the activities be achieved, triggered a lively debate. Its consensual and heartening conclusion was that no reward should be promised to the mentors, otherwise one cannot separate the wheat from the chaff. The student mentors were adamant about not allowing opportunists and “C.V. builders” to interfere with an activity which draws its strength from volunteering.

The good news is that, the answer to the final question, “Would you do it again?” was a unwavering “Yes”… provided their suggestions for improvement were taken into account. Had it been only a quick test of student mentor assertiveness, this argumented answer shows that a first lesson in critical thinking has been learned.

Iulia Bobaila,
Assistant Lecturer, Babeş-Bolyai University

News from the University of Deusto, Spain

Deusto univWe have been busy in Deusto since January.  Our idea for our project relates to Modern Language students’ participation in enhancing the quality of their own degree. We wanted to see why the students’ dissatisfaction with a number of aspects of their Bologna degree had not been detected by the feedback questionnaires sent to them at the end of the first and second semesters of the first two years of their studies. In order to do this we decided we would look into the various feedback questionnaires sent to different stakeholders and see the quality issues covered as well as those uncovered. Comparing these questionnaires with the questionnaires a group of students had produced themselves to get feedback from their classmates regarding the weaknesses of their degree would give us interesting information about the different meanings/dimensions of quality.  Accordingly, at the end of January we had a meeting with members of the quality unit to share with them the objectives of the project, ask for their approval and require a copy of all questionnaires sent to the different stakeholders. To our surprise we found out that the quality unit members had no objection to the project and to providing a copy of the various questionnaires. In February and March we analysed the different official questionnaires looking for the different quality dimensions and contrasted them with the unofficial questionnaire designed by the students; we also had several meetings with some students and with the head of department.   We are now contrasting the different dimensions on quality with the different stakeholders. The project is generating interesting interaction dynamics.

Mariluz Suárez Castiñeira,
Director of the Institute of European Studies, University of Deusto