Supporting students’ development as self-regulating, life-long learners: a competency-based bachelor programme in biomedical sciences

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To meet the needs of contemporary learners as future professionals we transformed the Maastricht University bachelor programme of Biomedical Sciences into a competency-based curriculum. Applying principles of constructive alignment, we designed a longitudinal range of teaching, learning and assessment activities, supporting students to become competent in four domains: biomedical expert (B-competency), communicator and collaborator (C-competency), investigator and scholar (I-competency) and professional and organizer (P-competency). This programme encourages students to discover and follow their personal passion and interests and it supports learners’ development into self-regulatory, life-long learners through the use of an e-portfolio and mentoring system. Students upload relevant evidence about learning and competency development to their e-portfolio. A mentor stimulates students to reflect on the feedback and assessment information in the portfolio to develop meaningful learning goals that can be used for their professional development and for career development. The programme is taught in English and aims at creating an international learning and working community through intake of international students and educational staff. In September 2016, the revised 3-year programme started with 320 students, with roughly 30% from outside the Netherlands. In general, staff feel that the international mix of students has a positive impact on students’ motivation and study attitude. First evaluation data show that students highly appreciate the mentorship. A remaining challenge for both students and staff is to make a shift from ‘studying for the exam’ to self-directed learning and an attitude of continuous performance improvement and competency development. A detailed evaluation of the new curriculum will follow after the first full run of the programme (2019). In conclusion, first evaluation data suggest that we successfully created a competency-based curriculum with congenial assessment re-design in our large-scale biomedical sciences programme. Implementation, however, is challenging and achieving changes in teaching and assessment culture requires a lot of time.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication7th International Research Symposium on PBL, 19-21 October 2018
Subtitle of host publicationInnovation, PBL and competences in Engineering Education
EditorsSunyu Wang, Anette Kolmos, Aida Guerra, Weifeng Qiao
PublisherAalborg University Press
ISBN (Print)978-87-7210-002-9
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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