Hello my lovely followers,
I just finished my first exam week – a week full of fear, excitement, long nights in the library and a loooooot of coffee. I can’t believe that I have already mastered the first period successfully and period 2 is already starting. Everything happens so fast during your exchange and a lot of unexpected things happen…
In this blog entry I will try to introduce you to the famous Problem-Based-Learning-System of Maastricht University. When I came here, I didn’t had any clue what the University, with this unique system, expects from me as a student and what I can expect from the University at the same time. If you are used to large lecture halls, where participation and even attendance don’t play a major part, the PBL will offer you a complete new experience of getting taught. But believe me, you will enjoy it after a short time of getting used to all the new procedures.
This special educational model has been at the core of Maastricht University ever since it was founded. PBL is more than just acquiring knowledge; it’s about exchanging knowledge in a challenging and effective way. Maastricht University makes the difference. There are some main characteristics like student-centered learning, small tutorial groups, teachers act as facilitators (called tutors) and a problem acts as a main basis for the stimulus for learning.
In other words, you will (most of the time) have, in a normal week, one lecture, where you are sitting in a big lecture hall (like you are probably used to at your home university) and get a first overview of the chapters for this week. Afterwards you are supposed to go through the material a second time at home during your self-study and prepare for the tutorials.
Then you will have one or sometimes two tutorials during the week. The tutorials are the heart of the total PBL-System. Here, you have classes with a dozen of people in a small room, which you can compare with a typical High-School class. However, participation is not only welcome, but also required for successfully finishing the course. When you have your first time in a new tutorial group, make some fun out of it and play for yourself the game: Who is the tutor?
Usually, the tutor is just a few years older than you (sometimes also younger) and looks like a normal student and sits by the round-tables like everyone else. The only hint: he is probably the only person who has a folder or some printed literature with him. As mentioned above, he acts as a guide and not as a teacher. He is present to assist, correct and guide the discussion in the right direction, if he feels it is needed. The rest is up to you!
During these tutorials, you have to participate to show, that you have read the literature and understood the most important stuff. But guys, please, don’t worry about that. The whole PBL-System isn’t as hard as it may sound now. Once you read your material, it is just a question of will. Just don’t be shy to share your thoughts with your classmates. You should always keep in mind that there are no bad answers, since the whole purpose of this discussion is “learning by doing/discussing”.
And when it comes to the exam, I swear, you will be very happy that you attended the tutorials before and discussed all that stuff in detail. You can remember all the difficult parts of the literature more easily when you try to think about the lively discussions on those topics…
If there are any questions about the PBL still left, don’t hesitate and ask! I hope I can answer it!
Next time I will write about all the beautiful cities you are able to visit from Maastricht!
Wish you all the best, Marie