Still a lot of questions about renewed bachelor’s of Psychology

Exams in MECC will become less important

Still a lot of questions about renewed bachelor’s of Psychology

“Change never comes about without struggle”

04-10-2023 · News

MAASTRICHT. The renewed bachelor’s programme of Psychology is scheduled to start next academic year. There will be considerable changes, such as the test methods and the role of mentors. It appears that both lecturers and students still have quite a few questions and concerns.

No longer being judged on a number of “high-stake” exams in MECC, but an assessment on your learning progress throughout the year. That is the point of departure for new Psychology students from the next academic year. Marks are no longer the focal point, but feedback, self-management and reflection. This will all be recorded in a portfolio; at the end of the year, a committee assesses whether students have made sufficient progress.

In addition to students being able to choose from multiple specialisations (the Maastricht study programme was the only one in the Netherlands not to have this option), the so-called programme-based testing is one of the greatest changes in the updated bachelor. It fits in with the new ‘testing culture’ that UM wants to introduce across the university. A similar system was already introduced last year at the bachelor’s of Medicine.

Conflicting tasks

Nevertheless, some critical questions were asked during the latest meeting of the faculty council, two weeks ago, and during a ‘Town Hall meeting’ for lecturers last week. One thing concerned the role of mentors, who will become much more important, in particular in first year. Acting as ‘coaches’, they will supervise a fixed group of twelve students intensely for a whole year, but at the same time also act as one of their tutors.

Council members on behalf of the academic staff expressed their concern that these might be conflicting tasks. “On the one hand, you are trying to help someone, but on the other hand, you also have to assess them. If you establish a personal relationship, it makes it more difficult to have to say ‘this is not good enough’.” Moreover: working intensively with the same group for a whole year, will that not cause friction, student members wondered. “At the moment, during tutorials you always have students who take the easy route, or ‘hide’”, one of them said.

Other worries included: will the opportunity for fraud using AI not increase if supervised exams lose importance and there are more reports and presentations? How can you continue to stimulate students who perform better as a result of the competition for a high grade? What are the consequences of not having an average grade when you want to do a master’s elsewhere?

Rewarding

Yes, discussions about issues like these will undoubtedly be needed, Herco Fonteijn, co-ordinator of the bachelor’s of Psychology, states in a telephone interview. “We will be asking both students and lecturers for something quite different. These kinds of changes do not come about without struggle, higher education is, after all, rather conservative. But they are necessary. The new approach fits in well with competences that psychology students must learn: self-regulation, resilience, dealing with feedback.”

The new role is also better for lecturers, he says. “Instead of checking four hundred exams, you now discuss the results elaborately with a small group of students. I can imagine that this is more rewarding work. Moreover, checking assignments these days takes up an unreasonable amount of time. That should be reduced.” But is this not a masked cutback in teaching hours, as was asked during the Town Hall meeting? Fonteijn: “No, you can’t say that. The hours will stay practically the same. The main idea is that they don’t increase and that there is more flexibility. Also, lecturers who do not become mentors, will most likely lose teaching time in the bachelor’s, but could, for example, teach more in the master’s.”

The faculty council will discuss the matter further next week, and the new education plan will be voted on later this year. Also, this was definitely not the last Town Hall meeting on the subject, dean Harald Merckelbach assured those present during the meeting.

Photo: Joey Roberts

Tags: fpn,psychology,renewed,bachelor,assessment,exams,fraud,students

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