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Fréderique Purnot: Make sure you work less hard yourself and let your students work harder

Teaching community TAUU is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year! A great moment to kick off this brand new TAUU column ‘Coffee to go with…’. I go out with UU teachers in the beautiful nature around the Utrecht Science Park. While walking, I ask UU teachers about their work and passion.

Lecturer: Fréderique Purnot. Date: May 9, 2022. Beverage: Americano. Weather: 22 degrees, bright sunshine

Since when have you been working at UU?

Since August 2019 at Social, Health and Organisational Psychology – Faculty of Social and Behavourial Sciences. In addition, since March 2021 she has her own company Kicker onderwijs.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I get the most pleasure from designing education – I am convinced that if you design your education well in advance you can get much more out of the students. I think e-learning is a very nice working method and fun to design – you create something that still exists after the tutorial and which can be used again and improved. The combination of having students do a few e-modules prior to class, which can then be continued in class, works very well and activates the students.

What is the most special moment you have experienced with a student or group of students?

Together with my colleague Richta IJntema, I supervise a group of students who are doing an internship and I gradually discovered that the more freedom you give them, the more they come up with – for example, they started to develop new trainings/lessons on new topics of their own accord.

During the last ‘Onderwijsparade” you held a session about student collaboration and you wrote the blog ‘de docent als team coach(the teacher as teamcoach), can you tell us more about this?

As a student myself I have experienced how irritating it is to work together in a group of students, where the efforts of the individual students are very different. There is always one who does a lot, some do very little and this often leads to frustration for the one who does a lot. As a teacher, I started to look into this and discovered that much is known about how teams in organizations do or do not work well together. I then made a translation to the cooperation between students and how you can respond to this as a teacher.

Can you give an example of how you, as a teacher, can promote collaboration?

Suppose you have a group of five students, two of whom work very hard to complete the assignment, two of whom do something occasionally and one of whom does nothing at all. What you can do as a teacher is to talk to the whole group and ask what the students themselves would like to get out of the assignment, what would they themselves like to learn / deliver? Often you get the non-involved students much more along this way and where necessary you can make adjustments so that everyone stands behind what is going to be learned. In addition, you can ask whether the assignment is too challenging or not challenging enough – if the latter is the case, you can, for example, reduce the deadline from 6 weeks to 2 weeks, so that there is no procrastination and an extra depth can be achieved afterwards.

What will you be doing in 5 years?

I would then like to develop e-learning and/or guide, train and advise teachers to ensure that education is of even higher quality.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I love making and listening to music – I used to play the flute at a high level, now I play a little bass guitar and enjoy going to concerts and theater.

If you could change one thing within UU to strengthen you as a teacher, what would it be?

I would like to see a culture shift in which teaching is given an equal place with research. It is still the case that teaching is the poor relation compared to research – it has to be done ‘on top of it’. I also think it is a pity that there is such a high turnover of teachers because of all the temporary contracts – as a teacher this prevents you from co-developing something with fellow teachers, instead of improving your teaching together, you are more concerned with the question ‘who shall I teach this subject with next time’? I have a temporary contract myself, which expires in a year.

What tip would you like to give fellow teachers?

Make sure you work less hard yourself and let your students work harder

If you want to know more, sign up for Fréderique Purnot’s interactive session in the upcoming Strengthen-Your-Education-Week on Tuesday, June 28, 2022, 15:30-17:00: Help Your Students Work To Collaborate

Leonie Kroes-Wichers
17 May 2022

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