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Awards for creative tutor and Centre for Academic Writing

Associate Professor Christian Jørgensen’s creative approach to communicating science is lauded. The Centre for Academic Writing receives award for its improvement of education methods.

AWARDING TUTORING: Christian Jørgensen receives the Learning Environment Award 2015, and is described as a creative teacher. Through smart phone technology, he has managed to engage all his students.
AWARDING TUTORING: Christian Jørgensen receives the Learning Environment Award 2015, and is described as a creative teacher. Through smart phone technology, he has managed to engage all his students.
Photo:
Elin Espe Stensvand

The University of Bergen’s (UiB) Learning Environment Award (see FACTS) goes to Associate Professor Christian Jørgensen at the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences. He is described as a creative and active educator by the award committee. The students themselves nominate tutors for the award.

Jørgensen appreciates the trust his students bestow upon him through the nomination. All the same, he is not entirely comfortable in the role as teacher and tutor.

“I am happiest outside of the limelight. It is a bit unfair that I am the sole recipient of the award. I am part of an environment that creates a good learning environment,” he says.

Jørgensen teaches the course BIO100, Introduction to Evolution and Ecology.

Engaging students

Either way, there is little doubt that his students, most of them in their first year of university education, appreciate his lectures. Jørgensen has made an effort to learn more about how to make his students more active.

“He is awarded the prize on account of his creative approach to communicating science, activation and excellent interaction with the students, as well as making sure that students learn outside of the education situation itself,” says the committee.

Jørgensen quickly noticed that only a few of his 120 students were active in answering questions during his lectures. After some thinking he found a way of engaging them. Now, all students answer questions through a multiple choice solution via smart phone.

“We all discuss the different answers. Answering anonymously makes it easier, and the students are more active,” says Jørgensen.

Not wasting time

Jørgensen is part of bioCEED, a Norwegian Centre of Excellence (SFU) in biology education at the Department of Biology. The centre has invited all its tutors to a  Teachers’ retreat.  He thinks that talking about approaches to education and having a collegial forum has proved useful.

“We teachers are all researchers, always searching for evidence. We have to apply similar techniques in the class room, reading up on and finding the approaches for improving students learning,” he says.

It is important for him that his students always get something out of his lectures.

“I have 120 students. Should I give a useless lecture, they waste two times 120 hours, which amounts to around six work weeks. It is a big responsibility,“ says Jørgensen.

The Owl Award to writing centre

The Centre for Academic Writingat the Faculty of Humanities is awarded this year’s Owl Award. The Owl Award is UiB’s internal award for quality in education, and is presented by the University’s Education Committee to academic groups that can document particularly successful measures for academic quality.

Birger Solheim is leader of the centre and associate professor at the Department of Philosophy. He believes that the centre strengthens the quality of education at the department, by fulfilling the needs students have in a writing process.

“The students are taken seriously. They have different needs when it comes to writing academically, and helping them is not something we can do machine-like. We, on the other hand, can help them individually, with exactly what the student in question is struggling with,” says Solheim.

The centre offers workshops, seminars and individual tutorials in writing papers to bachelor and master students at the Faculty of Humanities.

Solheim thinks writing academically is a useful ability after finishing one’s studies.

“A few years after one’s education one might forget some of the knowledge one has acquired. Writing academically, however, is something one never forgets, and can be an important asset when applying for work,” he says.

Three year pilot project

The centre opened in 2014, and is a three year pilot project. The department and the University of Bergen Library are partners in the centre, which emphasises applying the library’s competence in searches and source evaluation to the students’ work on writing.

“Already in their first active year, the centre has been very active. The concept has a large transfer value towards others disciplines,” writes the committee.

Solheim agrees. The centre has already noticed interest from students from both the Faculties of Psychology and the Social Sciences. All students who have asked have had a positive answer from the centre.

“My vision is that the centre can exist not only for the Faculty of Humanities, but the entire university,” says Solheim.