Here are our excellent teaching practitioners

Pernille Bronken Eidesen (UNIS) and Christian Jørgensen (UiB) both receive the status of excellent teaching practitioners. Eidesen says it is a great honour to become an excellent teacher, and she feels a collegial responsibility.

The two new excellent teaching practitioners: Pernille Bronken Eidesen (UNIS) and Christian Jørgensen (UiB). Photo: Eike Müller/UNIS (left) and Jens H. Ådanes/UiB.

Press release from the University of Bergen and the University Centre in Svalbard

Associate Professor Pernille Bronken Eidesen in Arctic Biology at UNIS is also associated with bioCEED. She says it is a great honour to become an excellent teacher, and she feels a collegial responsibility.

– I have had good colleagues – and students – who have shown the way and been sparring partners for different ideas. It is in the criteria that one should have a collegial approach and practice, and that requirement I will take even more seriously than earlier, says Eidesen.

– First and foremost it is nice to be recognized by the educational environment, and that people who are much better than me have faith in the thoughts I have about teaching and development I succeed with. Secondly, I would wish the title was invisible: I am afraid it follows with extra requirements that the teaching should be fun and spectacular, while it is often quite boring things that have good effect on learning, says Christian Jørgensen.

He is a professor at the Department of Life Sciences, and one of the two new teachers who now receive the status of excellent teachers.

The applicants who want to become excellent teachers are assessed by a committee. In the application, the teachers must document and describe their own approach towards four main points (see fact box).

In 2017, the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences at the University of Bergen established a qualification scheme for teaching. The teachers selected receive the degree of excellent teaching, and become a part of the Pedagogical Academy at the faculty. (See fact box for more about schemes.) Since 2018, the faculty has collaborated with the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS) on the accreditation scheme.

Creates joy through learning
Eidesen will give the students their “aha” experiences, to see the context and experience the joy of actually understanding something.

– I work best in interaction with the students. I am not judged to be particularly good at lecturing, but am more focused on facilitating learning processes, where the students themselves ask questions and discover connections. I am probably more concerned with understanding than of detailed knowledge, she says.

She has also received support from the Olav Thon Foundation, for a development project on student-active teaching in the field.

Focuses on the students’ learning
In 2015, Jørgensen received the University of Bergen Learning Environment Prize, where the students themselves nominate the teachers they deem the best. He has also received an award from the Olav Thon Foundation for progressive teaching. Despite praise from both the students and the committee, he says that he does not always like to teach. – I am introvert and become nervous, and am utterly worn out afterwards. Despite this, he says he focuses on the result: the students’ learning.

– I quickly assume that if I teach 100 students poorly in a lecture then I throw away 200 working hours for them. If I instead give lessons from which they learn quickly, I may be able to help them save 2 hours or so the week. Together, my work in a two-hour teaching session can correspond to 10 work weeks for resource-intensive young people in their most productive ages. It is a challenge he takes seriously.

– Fortunately, there is a wealth of literature on pedagogy with measurable effect. I try to think carefully about what I do and what to do, and always look for new ways to make it clearer to the students what they should understand. Together with clear feedback on the achievements, I hope that the student will have a good starting point to learn.

Participates in the Pedagogical Academy
These excellent teachers become a part of the Pedagogical Academy. The purpose is to raise the quality of education at the faculty through a collegial and collaborative education culture. In co-operation with the faculty, they manage funds for educational development activity.

– I look forward to discussions across disciplines. I hope that it will inspire further work on excellent teaching, and that together we can get more to see the benefits of working with teaching in the same way that we work with research, says Eidesen.

Jørgensen hopes that the Pedagogical Academy will make it easier to get the attention of those who make decisions that have consequences for classroom pedagogy in the university sector.

– I am occupied by institutional rules and routines that hinder effective learning, and I currently have a focus on the interpretation of grades and complaint rules for learning and resource use. He says that he has a good network of enthusiastic colleagues at UiB who work for excellent teaching.

– It is often easier to make changes if one talks to the right people in the administration or bureaucracy, but they are often difficult to identify and come into contact with, especially outside their own institution. Hopefully, the Pedagogical Academy will be a place to discuss ideas to sort what should be continued with, and at the same time being a door opener to get in touch with the right person also outside of UiB, the teacher says.

Fact box

Excellent Teaching Practioners (ETP)

  • As the first institution in Norway, the MatNat Faculty at University of Bergen established a qualification scheme for teaching in 2017.
  • Teachers who receive the status make up the Pedagogical Academy, and will contribute to a collegial teaching culture.
  • The teacher receives NOK 50,000 in salary increase.
  • The measure covers the total educational activity, including teaching, guidance, planning, and evaluation.

The ETPs were measured on the following:

  • Focus on students’ learning
  • Clear development over time
  • Research approach
  • Collegial attitude and practice
Arctic Biology bioCEED Press releases