Funding for cross-disciplinary project in student active learning

AB-201/AB-204 fieldwork in 2016. Photo: Marie Westvik/UNIS

Top image: Biology students during field teaching in 2016. Photo: Marie Westvik/UNIS

Last week, UNIS and BioCEED was granted funding of 4.7 million NOK to the project “Development, testing and evaluation of tools and assessment forms to enhance constructive alignment in field teaching”.

29 April 2019

Diku (the Norwegian Agency for International Cooperation and Quality Enhancement in Higher Education) recently granted a total of 53 million NOK to 12 projects from eight different institutions. A total of 75 applications were processed, so UNIS is very happy to be one of the chosen few.

– All education at UNIS focuses on using our geographical location in Svalbard, and thus field education is the essential part of all our courses and other educational activities such as bachelor, master and PhD theses, says Hanne H. Christiansen, Vice Dean for Education at UNIS.

– Our Educational Committee at UNIS therefore decided to develop this interdisciplinary project across our science disciplines. It will allow us to focus on innovating our educational offer, as we further develop our unique field education to become even more focused on student active learning using new technology and new methods combined with pedagogic studies of our field learning methods. Therefore, the DIKU funding will be very important for the educational development at UNIS. It will also allow us to provide development within field education to the Norwegian universities which have our courses as part of their study programmes, says Christiansen.

The UNIS/BioCEED project will focus on three development areas:

  1. Digital tools for preparation and assessment of field method skills
  2. Local field laboratories as an arena of assessment of practical skills
  3. Reflection as an assessment tool

Combined knowledge from these three areas will form the foundation for an overarching design for assessment of field learning, in accordance with the principles of constructive alignment.

There is huge potential in using e.g. virtual field guides and virtual reality technology in preparing for fieldwork, as well as implementing these tools in assessment situations after the fieldwork. Also, the project aims to develop a field laboratory certification system for the assessment of practical field skills, methodical skills, or interpretation of a given situation in the field. Once developed, this system may be shared between different education institutions.

Pernille Bronken Eidesen and AB-201 student during fieldwork in Kongsfjorden, August 2018. Photo: Tina Dahl/UNIS
Pernille Bronken Eidesen and a student during fieldwork in Kongsfjorden, August 2018. Photo: Tina Dahl/UNIS

Associate professor Pernille Bronken Eidesen is project coordinator as well as deputy leader of BioCEED:
– I am very happy about this grant. As a teaching institution we claim that our students learn a number of practical skills in the field, but we fail to make a good assessment of these skills. A written exam is not suitable for testing field skills. This award gives us the opportunity to both develop new forms of assessments and to assess the effect of these.

The project is fully interdisciplinary with participation from three scientific departments at UNIS: Arctic Biology, Arctic Geology and Arctic Geophysics, but also the UNIS Study administration and UNIS IT from the Technical Department at UNIS are partners. Additionally, the Department of Biology and Pedagogics at University of Bergen are partners. The project will run from 2019 until 2022.


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