Maria Jensen has been awarded the title of “Excellent Teaching Practitioner” in recognition of her efforts to improve the quality of teaching at UNIS. With a background in teaching at both primary school and research levels, she is passionate about the subject.
The status of Excellent Teaching Practitioner is awarded to individuals who have demonstrated a significant improvement in their teaching competence over time. To apply for the recognition, candidates must document their teaching strategy and development work in didactics, which is then assessed by a committee and followed by an interview. Most universities have their own, but UNIS is affiliated to University of Bergen, which in turn is inspired by the merit scheme of the University of Lund.
Geology doesn’t have to be difficult, but the information must be presented in an accessible mannerMaria Jensen
Want to move away from the traditional lecture format
Maria follows an active learning teaching philosophy, which is a shift from memorization towards a student-driven approach of involvement and collaboration. Social dynamics in the classroom are crucial for active learning and participation, so she prefers to move away from traditional lecture formats and encourages students to participate actively to awaken their curiosity and perceive themselves as contributors to the group. She is concerned with identifying barriers to understanding and participation and how to remedy these in course construction and educational strategy.
She emphasizes the importance of promoting a teaching culture throughout the organization so that both old and new researchers see the value of teaching quality.
“The way of teaching is not developed by me alone, but they are created through dialogue with colleagues and students, followed by adaptations,” she says.
An institutional responsibility
UNIS has made progress in improving the teaching culture, but there is still much work to be done. Maria highlights the importance of emphasizing teaching in salary settlements, time use, and general recognition. She believes that without institutional focus, it will be difficult to get researchers on board.
“At the end of the day, researchers will respond to the requirements made by the leadership,” she explains.
As head of department in Arctic Geology, Maria uses her leadership position to influence decisions and highlight the importance of teaching, outreach, and research work. She believes that if obstacles are removed and staff rewarded, there will be a higher quality of teaching in the long term.
“There are many paths in the professorial career, and teaching is part of it. And with good teaching comes better access to knowledge for the students,” Maria concludes.