The Tilburg Approach to Education
Tilburg University Challenges Ambitious Students
A Vision for the Future
In The Tilburg Approach to Education, Tilburg University presents the vision it advocates concerning the foundation and character of academic education at the university. This document summarises the guidelines meant to assist the university, working together with faculties and program boards, in improving the quality of education, now and in the future.
The view on education
The students' academic equipment
Tilburg University graduates are not merely specialists in their field. They handle academic and social questions with an inquisitive and critical attitude, and are able to give an independent opinion. Having been trained to integrate knowledge, understanding, norms, and values from science, culture, and philosophy of life in a meaningful way, the prospective academic is not satisfied with just one perspective.
Maria IJzermans is a lecturer in
Encyclopaedia and History of Law at the
Experimenting with educational methods
How do you ensure that two hundred students in a lecture hall actually pick up something? Obviously, people learn differently. To motivate students, you've got to experiment with teaching methods. In law, for example, we make use of cell-phone voting as a way of making lectures interactive. A proposition is presented, and students can respond to it immediately on their cell phones. We've also introduced a training law court. In a mock-up setting, which is recorded on videotape, students learn to argue a legal case. They learn a lot that way, which just shows you that there are more possibilities for teaching than just lectures and seminars.
Graduates are able to handle academic insights sagaciously. They have become accustomed to considering facts within a social and cultural-historical context, and are aware of their role as scholars in society. Equipped with an academic and social sense of responsibility, Tilburg graduates understand how to deal with ethical questions.
The training offered at Tilburg University is nurtured by academic research. Graduates must be equipped to analyse academic questions independently. Possessing sound analytical and problem-solving skills, these scholars are prepared to draw on different sources and compare divergent academic approaches in order to arrive at innovative solutions. No less important for these graduates is the ability to go beyond their own field of expertise: to be aware of the interconnections between various disciplines and to use them to hone their knowledge and skills.
The 'ivory tower' is not the place to find Tilburg graduates, who are equipped with practical skills to perform at high levels in society. Good reading and writing skills, knowledge of ICT, and clear presentation and debating techniques are essential, and a good command of one or more foreign languages is crucial in an international environment.
The university is convinced that Tilburg graduates, with this theoretical and practical equipage, can fulfil a responsible position in a dynamic knowledge society.
Devoted to quality
Tilburg University will do its utmost to realize the above-mentioned aspirations. This publication presents broadly supported guidelines, which have been developed in cooperation with the faculties and the programme boards, concerning the structure and innovation of education. To provide students with the necessary academic equipment, the focus must be on quality.
What does Tilburg University expect from students?
Tilburg University seeks to attract ambitious, excellent, students. To be able to meet such quality standards, faculties specify very clearly in their information and recruitment materials that their programmes target highly motivated, inquisitive students: those who have demonstrated dedication to their studies and are involved in scholarly activities, and those who go beyond the required reading and refuse to take a passive consumer approach to academic education. As students progress through their programme, the university places increasing emphasis on the students' ownership of both the content and the structure of the learning process.
Eveline Overbeek is a fourth-year student of
Business Communication and Digital
Media; she is also active in the programme
committee and the student special interest
Keeping up with the times
I am really pleased with this publication. It doesn't just focus on the quality of the student, but also on the quality of the teacher. Our knowledge society is in a state of flux. Teachers can't afford to be rigid and stand still. They've got to move with the times, to be involved with recent scientific developments, and try to convey the material in as lively a manner as possible. No standard pitch! There are even special professionalisation courses for teachers to brush up their knowledge. Looks like a good thing. Gives the students an edge, another reason to be proud of their Tilburg University degree.
During their time at Tilburg University, students should develop intellectual independence. Once they have acquired the basic knowledge in their discipline, they must be able to wield this knowledge, and that from other disciplines, in independent, creative and innovative ways. The university encourages this development by gradually increasing student involvement in active research activities. The university means to send forth graduates whose knowledge is up-to-date with the most current academic developments.
Another priority is to prepare students for positions in an international environment. Students are encouraged to study for short periods of time at foreign partner institutions, and Tilburg University offers courses to improve English language skills. The university is also expanding its own network by inviting students and lecturers from abroad, and hopes in this way to foster a more international educational climate in Tilburg. Many of the courses in Tilburg University Master's programmes are already being taught in English.
The well-rounded scholar
In addition to their academic involvement, students at Tilburg University must meet stringent requirements as users of services and facilities. Student expectations concerning service levels must be realistic, for example, and students must be able to deal appropriately with those who work at the university. Of vital importance is a keen awareness of the norms appropriate to academic work, including correct reference to sources.
What makes a well-rounded scholar? Students who engage in extracurricular activities -serving on the board of a student association, for example- can count on the support of Tilburg University. The university strongly believes that it is precisely these types of activities that contribute to the development of an academic attitude.
What does Tilburg University expect from instructors?
Also the instructors at Tilburg University continuously work on their development. To help the academic staff function well as teachers, tutors, advisors, and examiners, the university has developed special professionalisation courses. In workshops and training courses, instructors can brush up their English, update their ICT knowledge, and hone their didactic skills.
Willem Witteveen is professor in the
department of Jurisprudence and History
of Law at the Law Faculty.
Our education should be tailor-made. This is what the discussion within the faculties should be about. There is not just one type of student. They have different interests, learning styles, levels and ambitions. Small-scale teaching allows you to anticipate the students' needs and concerns, and to bring out the best in them. A good example is having students prepare for their thesis by carrying out a preliminary research study. Tailor-made education refers not only to the form of instruction, but also to the content. No lesson need be the same. The learning experience is enriched if a teacher also draws on other disciplines. Contract law, for example, shares common ground with economics and the psychology of negotiation. Make strategic use of this knowledge and teach students to look at society from a variety of angles.
At Tilburg University, it is the exception for any of the teaching staff to wear only one hat, that of the instructor. To prepare students well for independent academic research, instructors should be actively involved in research. Instructors should thus not only be conversant with current research in their particular field of study, but also be able to integrate knowledge from different areas and from different perspectives.
Instructors bent on achieving the best results will respond to differences between students in terms of style, ambition, and level of learning, and will offer room for tailor-made solutions. The innovative instructor experiments with teaching activities designed to reach out to as many different students as possible and to draw on their talents.
Students and instructors treat each other with respect, keeping in mind that there is always room for cooperation. Realising that students contribute importantly to education with their knowledge and skills, instructors thus involve them in the organization and practice of teaching. Instructors also ensure that students work well together and help one another.
What role does Tilburg University play?
The guidelines contained in The Tilburg Approach to Education represent a challenge to the entire university community. Students, instructors, academic staff and support staff are all called upon to strive together inrealising these ambitions, both at present and in the future.
Having formulated this view on education, the Tilburg University executive board also assumes responsibility for its realisation. The board has therefore set up the Quality of Education Steering Group, charged with the task of protecting the quality of education and the facilities at the university. This steering group, which consists of scholars and faculty management staff, is chaired bythe rector magnificus.
One of the aims of this steering group is to develop a quality assurance system at the study program level. This quality assurance system will result in a procedure in which every program is assessed periodically on matters including course content, forms of examination, enrolment, facilities, student progress and output.
In the context of quality assurance, the university also plans to assess how it can increase the accessibility of educational output. By means of professionalisation courses, Tilburg Universityencourages new and incumbent staff to improve their skills.
Léon Hanssen is a lecturer in the Theory
and History of Literature at the Faculty of
Passing on the passion
As a lecturer, I am very demanding, not because I'm aiming for some kind of an elite university, but because society is also very demanding, with buzzwords like progress, knowledge, quality. No university can afford to ignore this, nor can an ambitious student. I consider it important that students at Tilburg University are given an adequate general education, enabling them to put their knowledge into a political and social context. Facts are never isolated. Students should learn to wrestle with difficult issues. It's up to their teachers to pass on the passion and to imbue students with the confidence that they can develop their talents.
Exceptionally motivated and ambitious students can count on extra attention and supervision at Tilburg University, where special programmes have been developed to stimulate their talents. For example, the university also offers an Honours Program in the Bachelor's phase.
The university aims to enrich the learning environment with ICT. This technology opens up opportunities for new forms of teaching, such as learning in groups and the use of simulation games, which promote tailor-made education.
In consultation with students, the university will draft a protocol on academic integrity and appropriate behaviour among fellow-students, instructors, and support staff.
In order to facilitate development of special support programmes for the growing group of excellent and ambitious students, the university will encourage program boards to offer programmes with entry requirements within their curricula. The university will also ask program boards to experiment with forms of individual student supervision.
To improve the quality of education, the university will take steps to increase the visibility of educational output. Experiments with peer review and self-evaluation will be used for assessing the individual educational output of instructors. As a support policy, the university will develop professionalisation courses for new and incumbent staff. Regular training courses and workshops will be held in order to further hone the knowledge and skills of instructors.
To contribute to a high-quality educational environment, the university will take measures to ensure the availability of an adequate ICT infrastructure on campus. ICT also prepares students for practical work situations outside the university, where the use of high-quality technology is common practice.
Lex Meijdam is professor and associate
dean for educational programmes at the
Faculty of Economics and Business
Respecting each other
We should get away from the consumer student. The university needs to attract motivated and hard-working students, also from abroad. It is not enough to be clever. In this context, scientific integrity seems to be a key issue. At university, students should learn to quote and cite sources correctly. In this Internet era, people do not always go about these things as carefully as they perhaps should, and a code of conduct might be right on target. But it seems to me that good behaviour goes way beyond using polite forms of address prescribed by some code of etiquette. The main thing is that teachers and students should respect one another.