Differentiation in learning

The University recognises the diversity in backgrounds, skills, talents and needs of its student population. To satisfy their interests and meet their personal ambitions for future careers, it  endeavors to meet students’ demand for personalisation of the curriculum and learning routes. It further recognises the importance of an enriched curriculum by offering multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches to learning, choice through enhanced curricular pathways and a variety of opportunities to gain international experience including work placements, study/research abroad and attracting international staff.

  • What are the university's objectives with this theme?
  • What are the key aspects?
  • What are important questions?
  • How do we know we’re making progress?
  • Further reading
  • Example: individual track (Honours College FSW)

  • Students develop the skills to help fulfill their ambitions;
  • Facilitating more personalised learning experiences;
  • Programmes offer the opportunity to students to develop a wide range of talents.

In order to achieve personalisation of the curriculum, and engage and motivate students, it is important to actively engage them in their future career path based on their interests and ambitions. This can be done by offering them choice in modules, differentiation methods in teaching and learning, interdisciplinary minors or extracurricular opportunities, for example through the Honours track. Also, Leiden University is one of the nine high-ranking universities that have signed an agreement for a virtual exchange, whereby they offer the option of taking online elective courses  to gain credits for bachelor or master degrees in the Netherlands and abroad. (See Internationalisation and diversity)

When giving students a lot of freedom in the choice of modules, it is important that they get help  with their module choices and producing a rational study pathway. For example, do the chosen modules complement each other and will they form a comprehensive body of knowledge, or a programme of transdisciplinary subjects? For students, choosing an individual study pathway is an important decision that will impact on a future career. Lack of appropriate information and guidance, could lead to poor choices, which can lead to disengagement and in the worst-case scenario even drop out. Consequently it is important to provide comprehensive  information that is easily accessible (information days, Honours track orientation module, websites, student one-stop services). Students should also have the opportunity to get personal advice on their study trajectory from both the academic (study advisors) and career perspective (career service)

Besides offering students choice in modules and extracurricular opportunities, we should also consider differentiated learning and instruction approaches to give students choice in the pace, place and mode of their learning. For example, when teaching a group of students with different needs and talents, we should consider giving students the opportunity of employing a variety of talents in assignments and learning new skills in a safe environment. (see also Activing Teaching and Learning). Differentiation requires lecturers to tailor their practices to their students’ profiles and requires flexibility in terms of design, content, assessment and the grouping of students.

Flexible learning focuses on giving students choice in the pace, place and mode of their study, and all three aspects can be delivered through appropriate pedagogical practice. Examples of pedagogical practice are Problem Based Learning, Project Based learning and Programmed Instruction.  A common strategy  for  facilitating this is through e-learning or blended learning. The availability of technology can encourage flexible approaches to the delivery and assessment of learning. Pace typically focuses on different delivery schedules, e.g. faster or slower completion of the module/course. Place is concerned with the physical location, which could be at home or in a classroom. Mode covers learning technologies, which provide new and flexible approaches through the wide range of ICT products, including virtual reality applications. (see Application of Technology in Teaching and Learning)

Step 1. Reformulate the (university’s) objectives into questions concerning

  1. the current situation (today); and
  2. the desired situation in 2025

Step 2. Make the answers to the questions measurable

Step 3. Use the answers as input for further (re-)design

For example:

1) How do students develop the skills to fulfil their ambitions?

  1. today
  2. in 2025

Examples of measurable answers: (%) skills in the curriculum/co-curricular/extra-curricular

2) How do teachers and educational programmes facilitate personalised learning experiences?

  1. today
  2. in 2025

Examples of measurable answers: with the support of (x)tutors/mentors/councillors for students; by offering (%) EC in the curriculum for individual learning trajectories;

3) To what extent do programmes offer the opportunity for students to develop a wide range of talents?

  1. today
  2. in 2025

Examples of measurable answers: (%) curriculum for students to fill independently; (#) skills trainings offered;  (x) co- and extra-curricular options

Flexible Pedagogies: preparing for the future, https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/system/files/resources/tel_report_0.pdf

This short publication focuses on how e-learning can support flexible pedagogies. It also explains  how technology could enable new choices for learners.

Individual track in Honours College FSW

Open to: All bachelor students of Leiden University

When meeting the entry criteria for the Honours College, students may compose their own individual programme. Under supervision of the Faculty Honours coordinator students plan an  Individual pathway. There is a great deal of freedom and flexibility and students have the opportunity to organise internships, trips abroad, attend master’s courses, etc.  However, to guarantee quality the proposed track must be approved by the Examination Board.

All students have the opportunity to take an Honours Class of 5 ECTS as part of the Honours College or as an extra-curricular module. In the video lecturers and students explain the benefits of an honours class.