Utrecht University academics visit the Faculty of Veterinary Science

Utrecht University academics’ visit to the Faculty of Veterinary Science will impact very positively on its future teaching and learning activities.

Prof Peter van Beukelen and Dr Harold Bok visited the Faculty of Veterinary Science’s Onderstepoort Campus from 16 to 18 March 2015. Against the background of the very effective existing MOU with the Utrecht University this visit not only reinforced the close ties between the two institutions but also explored even closer collaboration in educational research.

The two academics from the Utrecht University in the Netherlands spent three days at the Faculty to share their expertise on how to introduce different learning methods to the faculty’s current teaching and learning methods. The five workshops were attended by approximately 80 academics from the faculty’s different departments. During the workshops hosted by Prof van Beukelen and Dr Bok, they focused on skills-based /competency based education that can be introduced in theoretical modules as well as how to optimize skills-based/competency-based in modules with a clinical focus.

In order to establish a good understanding of the current clinical training practices used at both institutions the two gentlemen from UU on the first day had a working lunch with Profs Pete Irons (HOD: Production Animal Studies), Johan Schoeman (HOD: Companion Animal Clinical Studies) and Dr Henry Annandale, Director: Clinical Services in the Onderstepoort Veterinary Academic Hospital (OVAH) which provided a good basis for the three-day visit. They were also taken of a tour of the faculty which included a visit to the newly built Skills Laboratory and the OVAH.

On the second day Prof van Beukelen and Dr Bok focused on the importance of self-directed and active learning, how lecturing staff can motivate and stimulate self-directed and active learning in students, and the difference between contact hours and self-study hours in a packed curriculum. They also made some very useful comments about assessment in a veterinary/veterinary nursing programme and how to design optimal assessment opportunities/exams in theoretical courses. In workshop 4 they lead an important discussion on how well the Faculty’s current assessment practices relate to its learning objectives, program outcomes and Day 1 competencies.  A comprehensive design assessment matrix that enhances reliability and validity was also introduced and explained by them.

Day three mainly focused on the transition between formal undergraduate studies and the veterinary profession and/or the clinical workplace. Discussions revolved around the importance of personal development, reflection and feedback in veterinary education and how these concepts may be incorporated into the curriculum.

Seeing that the VetEd Management Team, BVSc and DVN programme committee members, Module coordinators of clinical modules, VPL module coordinators, both undergraduate and postgraduate lecturing staff, Faculty student advisors and student representatives were all involved in these workshops, it is believed that the expertise and knowledge shared by the two academics will impact very positively on the future teaching and learning activities of the Faculty of Veterinary Science.

Delegates participating in a workshop during the visit of Prof van Beukelen and Dr Bok.