9 July 2018 • Gideon Wille
NSE results give no reason to rejoice
The results of the National Student Survey show that The Hague University of Applied Sciences is performing less well than in previous years. Leonard Geluk, Chairman of the Executive Board, is not pleased with this outcome, but has a clear explanation and expects THUAS to experience an upward trend in the near future.
The national trend is that the general level of satisfaction among students of universities of applied sciences decreased last year. The NSE results for THUAS are in keeping with this trend. It is worth noting though that for nearly every aspect, we scored below the average scores for the G5 schools (InHolland, Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences and Utrecht University of Applied Sciences). As a result, THUAS tumbled within the G5 from a position of 2 in 2017 to 4 in 2018. And this, of course, gives no reason to rejoice.
This is also Leonard Geluk’s opinion. He closely examined the results, looking for an explanation for the less-than-stellar performance. “There are a number of matters under development at THUAS and students can’t help but notice this. We are changing the education, have introduced a new Institutional Plan and are implementing a new Educational Vision. These changes have an impact on the here and now. Obviously, I would have preferred more positive NSE results, but I accept the fact that the transitional phase we are currently in has been somewhat of a hassle and resulted in less satisfied students.”
Incidentally, that ‘hassle’ can lead to improvements in the long term. “The NSE shows that the first-year students of Nursing are more satisfied than those at a higher level,” says Geluk. “The first-year students experience the new Educational Vision and the new curriculum. It is simply a matter of time before we see more positive ratings of the degree programme on all levels.”
And there are more positive trends. Take the Architecture and Construction Engineering degree programme, for instance. Geluk comments, “Four years ago, when I took on this position, there were some problems within the educational team. We invested in the curriculum and team and the programme manager engaged in dialogue with the lecturers and students. A number of improvements have been introduced continuously over the past few years, such as with regard to didactic competencies.” This has had a positive effect. The programme increased from 3.85 to 3.92 in the NSE results, a clear sign of increasing student satisfaction.
Didactic competencies are certainly a focal area. “The students want challenging education and are not satisfied with the didactic competencies of our lecturers. I believe that our teams need to devote more attention to how to keep the education engaging and how to be an effective teacher. To achieve this, we need to learn more from each other. We need to go from islands of lecturers to teams of lecturers in which feedback can be given and requested in terms of educational quality. After all, when teams are responsible for the quality of the education, such as in the Architecture and Construction Engineering degree programme, we see an upward trend.”
Is Geluk viewing the world of classrooms and staff rooms from an executive position through rose-coloured glasses? “I understand that the reality of a team of lecturers can be an uphill battle. But you don’t just enrol someone in a course and expect everything to be perfect afterwards. You need to invest in a team in the long term.” The appointment of Rajash Rawal to the Board helps broaden views in this respect. “I’m pleased he’s joined our team, also because he has experience as a lecturer.”
Feedback is fine and dandy, but Geluk also understands that lecturers may be wary about people coming into their classrooms to watch them at work. “Yet it has become clear that this part of the didactic training of lecturers is the most appreciated one. Feedback provides lecturers with new information and makes them aware of blind spots. So, giving feedback works. And by this we do not mean ‘Geez, you’re a really bad teacher’, but ‘How can you improve step by step’? I truly believe that this is the key to greater student satisfaction.”
Want to learn more? The detailed NSE reports can be found on the intranet.
Leonard Geluk: ‘Obviously, I would have preferred more positive NSE results, but I accept the fact that the transitional phase we are currently in has been somewhat of a hassle and resulted in less satisfied students.’