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Best Practice Awards in Teaching & Learning 2024

The Best Practice Award is an annual celebration of best teaching practices at the University of Groningen. The UG Best Practice in Teaching and Learning Award recognizes courses that have implemented pedagogical practices or approaches and learning practices that relate to the UG's educational aims.

Our 11 faculties have nominated their best practices of the highest quality. The Best Practice Award Ceremony is planned to be the opening event of the week-long Education Festival. It will take place on the 25th of March, 2024. All nominated teams are invited to attend the ceremony during which the Rector Magnificus will award the winners.

Nominations for Best Practice Award 2024

The array of nominated practices ranges from painting exercises in sound technology to a real-life law-making simulation. Teaching teams present their ideas in short nomination videos available below. It is a chance to meet the winners and nominees, read more about their practice and get inspired.

University College Groningen

Teaching team: Dr. Nina Mileva
Best practice: 'Quick Review Quiz'

Dr. Nina Mileva is nominated for her innovative mini-quiz recap strategy in International Law.  Beginning each class with a quiz on previous content reinforces learning and connects course material, enhancing student understanding and retention. 

This teaching method involves starting each class with a mini-quiz that reviews content from previous sessions. While it may sound simple, the strategy aims to enhance student understanding and retention by reinforcing learning and establishing connections between different parts of the course material. The quiz format includes open-ended and true/false questions, encouraging active participation and discussion among students. This approach not only aids in active knowledge retention but also highlights areas needing further clarification,  thus ensuring a comprehensive understanding of the subject matter. Dr. Mileva's method has been effective in creating a more integrated and holistic educational experience for her students.

Religion, Culture and Society

Teaching team: Dr. Joram Tarusarira,

Best Practice: Religion, Violence and Conflict Transformation

What are the theoretical, conceptual and practical questions at the intersection of religion, violence and conflict transformation? What assumptions lie behind their theoretical and practical use? Is religion inherently violent or peaceful? What factors influence whether a conflict will become violent? These are some of the questions that this course seeks to deal with. Towards this end, the module will interrogate the following elements: the history and development of fundamentalism and ‘religious violence’; the relationship between religion and ‘religious peacebuilding’ and conflict transformation; the influence of religion on transitional justice and reconciliation; and the impact of rituals in peacebuilding and conflict transformation. The course will be interdisciplinary. It will use analytical tools from disciplines such as religious studies, sociology, history, anthropology, politics, conflict, peace and reconciliation studies, etc. Students are invited to participate actively by going beyond describing issues to critically analyzing and interrogating assumptions underpinning the categories of religion, violence and conflict transformation. Case studies such as South Africa, Northern Uganda, Zimbabwe, and Northern Ireland, inter alia, will be deployed to facilitate analysis. Various religious traditions, including Christianity, Islam, Judaism and African Religions, shall be referred to whenever relevant.


Teaching team: Professor Pauline Kleingeld and Dr Titus Stahl

Best Practice: Pre-recorded lectures and reading guides

Pauline Kleingeld and Titus Stahl make innovative use of pre-recorded lectures to explain difficult philosophical texts to students before students read these texts. Students read the texts after watching the lectures online and come to class prepared to ask questions and engage in discussion, thus deepening their understanding of the material compared to conventional lectures.

Spatial Sciences

Teaching team: Dr. Peter Groote and Dr. Leonieke Bolderman

Best Practice: Course 'Geographies of the United States'

The Geographies of the United States course offers a unique experiential learning journey,  encouraging students to actively shape their understanding of U.S. socio-spatial developments.  Through interactive presentations and collaborative research projects, students gain a nuanced perspective on the U.S. and its geographies. The course's assessment structure prioritizes continuous learning, collaboration skills, and diverse output formats, contributing to a comprehensive and transferable educational experience.

Campus Fryslân

Teaching team: Dr. Meghan L. Muldoon

Best practice: Virtual township tourism

Students engage in a virtual exploration of a South African township led by a local resident. Throughout the tour, we explore local businesses, nurseries, youth centers, and schools. Prior to and after the tour, discussions ensue on topics such as global poverty, tourism in impoverished areas, virtual tourism, and empowerment. Students find their perspectives altered regarding township residents; instead of pity, they leave the tour inspired by the community's efforts to enhance their surroundings. Additionally, the tour generates income for the community, which is reinvested in projects for community improvement. This teaching approach effectively accomplishes its triple objective: 1) challenging preconceived notions of living in poverty in the Global South, 2) critically analyzing the consequences and influences of tourism in impoverished spaces, and 3) questioning the role of VR technology in both tourism practice and education.

Economics and Business

Teaching team: Dr. Aline Seepma and Luca Gelsomino, PhD

Best practice: Skills-tasting: A series of skill workshops developed by and preparing for practice

The Skills-tasting was introduced to offer a practical experience of strategic purchasing skills. We conducted a series of hands-on skill workshops in collaboration with experts, including a Chief Purchasing Officer and a Head of Procurement. The four skill workshops covered 'purchasing as project management', 'negotiation and supplier management', 'strategic alignment and sourcing', and 'financial considerations in purchasing'. The workshops directly complemented the theoretical lectures of the course, using real-world examples and case assignments designed in collaboration with the purchasing experts. Students were given a combination of individual reflection exercises, group discussion exercises and case-based skill practising exercises. The workshops aimed to (1) empower students to apply knowledge by translating theory into practice, (2) provide a glimpse into the skills and strategic decisions associated with strategic purchasing, and (3) enhance students' skills and evidence-based decision-making abilities necessary for success in today's business environment.

Medical Sciences

Teaching team: Hedwig Boer, Joke Fleer and Katrien Colman

Best Practice: Minor 'Expedition the Healthy North'

The minor Expedition the Healthy North, launched in the first semester of 2023, offers a unique educational experience in which students from Noorderpoort, Hanzehogeschool Groningen and the University of Groningen work together on complex health problems in the Appingedam region. This interdisciplinary approach emphasises collaboration with various stakeholders, including municipalities and residents, and promotes real-world learning outside the traditional classroom. Students are equipped with methods and concepts to work systematically on health issues, such as obesity prevention and promoting a healthy living environment, developing innovative solutions in collaboration with citizens and organisations. The minor falls under the Aletta Jacobs School of Public Health and is open to students from all faculties, spending at least one day a week in Appingedam for master classes and project work. Learning outcomes include professional identity development, learning from and with the innovation ecosystem, and design-oriented research on health issues. The 30 ECTS track is completed with a portfolio that shows progress and learning outcomes, with the minor as a whole promoting collaboration, innovation and practice-based learning in public health.


Teaching team: Dr Maja Babić
Best Practice: “Group meets individual” essay and presentation assignment

The "Group meets individual" assignment promotes active learning by engaging students in self-selected topics that challenge them. In groups of 4 or 5, students undergo a peer-review process, receiving continuous feedback throughout the course. This approach breaks down the larger project into manageable segments, fostering collaboration and connection among students. While the instructor is available for assistance, they play a minimal role in the project.

In the individual segment, students write essays of 1500-2000 words on a city or work of architecture, encouraging them to explore unfamiliar spaces beyond their comfort zone. Student evaluations highlight the success of this method in encouraging creative thinking and stepping outside personal or educational comfort zones.

The assignment not only enhances group dynamics through activities like brainstorming and peer review but also cultivates individual research and writing skills. Students learn through concept mapping, text, and visual analyses in small groups, contributing to a more productive and interactive learning process.

Overall, the "Group meets individual" assignment emphasizes active learning, encourages exploration beyond comfort zones, and fosters both group and individual skills in academic research.

Behavioral and Social Sciences

Teaching team: dr. Kirsten van den Bosch, B. Blom, MSc, dr. M. Dekker and Linda Greveling, MSc
Best practice: Putting theory into practice: connecting students with organisations to solve real-world problems within Academic Learning Communities

Students often find it challenging to conceptualize their future work environment. Recent changes to the Academic Learning Communities (ALC) in BA2 of PedOn have resulted in a stronger connection between students and professionals.

In ALC-BA2, students delve into current issues in pedagogical and educational practices. They are paired with an organization and conduct research in small groups to address an issue presented by the organization. Students are encouraged to apply the theoretical and methodological knowledge they have acquired during their studies. By applying scientific knowledge to real-world problems, students can bridge theory and practice and familiarize themselves with their future work environment.

ALCs differ significantly from traditional courses. There is no specific course literature, no lectures, and no grades. Students regularly meet with their ALC lecturers, fellows, and professionals. While students have considerable freedom in approaching the research, they must ensure that their final product, translating their research findings, connects to the issue raised by the organization. This places a high level of responsibility on students. Consequently, ALCs serve as excellent preparation for future internships and careers. Organizations also benefit, as they find the output to be highly valuable.

Science and Engineering

Teaching team: Drs. Saskia Grooters, Drs. Maarten van den Nieuwenhof-Schilstra, Dr. Marion van Rijssel, Drs. Jorien Zevenberg, Dr. Jacolien Graver, Drs. Marlies Westerhof, Drs. Gideon Laugs, Drs. Michiel Berger, Drs. Mart van Genne, Dr. Karin de Boer, Dr. Janneke Krooneman, Drs. Ruben Steendam, Drs. Mart van Genne, Drs. Pieter Vogelaar,

Best practice: The Science, Business & Policy (SBP) Master track

The SBP track merits winning this award due to its innovative teaching approach, featuring dedicated and enthusiastic educators, and garnering high praise from students. Upon completing the SBP track, students not only acquire academic skills but also develop professional competencies and gain real-world experience, providing them with a competitive edge in the job market. The track stands out for its unique structure and size, guiding and supervising an annual cohort of 60-70 students in challenge-based learning with real-life projects.

The SBP track is a faculty-wide initiative embedded in nearly all general scientific Master’s programs, catering to students' interest in the societal application of science and gaining experience in business and policy realms. The track comprises two modules with a work placement (real project-based learning) and places a strong emphasis on personal and professional development. During the work placement and courses, students learn to apply science to industrial goals, formulate policies, and address societal issues. This work-based learning approach introduces them to multidisciplinary teamwork, the ethical and societal context of science, and applying scientific expertise collaboratively to achieve common goals. Interactions with students from various disciplines, communication with non-scientists, and general management skills are integral components of this track.


Teaching team: Tim van Zuijlen, dr. Gerard Ritsema van Eck and dr. Jasper Verstappen

Best Practice: Fostering team science 'the IT Law Paper Series'

IT law students are keen to collaborate, write, and be involved in research. The staff at the IT law section encourages this and offers students opportunities to collaborate and write during courses, as well as involve them in research projects. However, there was a need for a more structured and interdisciplinary approach that has the potential to expand beyond the IT law programme. With the 'IT Law Paper Series' (ITLPS), we aim to fulfil this need in a small but meaningful way. In this project, several teams of two students and one IT law researcher write a paper, where the students take the initiative.  During the process, the teams present their progress to each other and give each other feedback. The papers are compiled in a physical bundle, which is then presented at a symposium. Next year, the ambition is to pair IT law students with students from other faculties and give them the opportunity to collaborate in a more interdisciplinary context. We think that with this project we can provide a platform for collaboration between students and researchers of different faculties.

Criteria 2024

Nominations for the Best Practice Award (BPA) can only be made by the faculty boards. The goal of the BPA is rewarding and recognizing the efforts of teaching teams that keep innovating their educational approaches, thus helping to broaden the UG's educational repertoire. The details of what we're looking for can be found in the BPA criteria.

Previous edition: Best Practice Awards 2023

The Teaching Academy Groningen (TAG) congratulates the winners and all the other nominees on their inspirational best practices! The selection committee documented their findings in the jury report.

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Winners of the Best Practice in Teaching & Learning Award 2023
1st prize: Law

Teaching team: Prof. dr. Marc Hertogh
Course title: Seminar Policy Analysis
Best practice: Teaching Policy Analysis in the Real World: Students Give Advice to Dutch House of Representatives

The law in practice and employability are some of the key focus points in educational innovation at the Faculty of Law. These are also the main Best Practices in the seminar Policy Analysis by Marc Hertogh, professor of Socio-Legal Studies. Students participated in a real-life law-making trajectory, for the Dutch House of Representatives. Contrary to previous years, where students invented a fictional policy problem on their own, this year a real-life problem was used.

Students stepped into the ongoing law-making process of the new Whistle-blower Protection Act in the Dutch House of Representatives. Through drafting policy advice addressed to the members of the House of Representatives and attending a round table meeting in The Hague with members of the House, students got a taste of how policymaking works as well as a look into their possible future working field. Together with peer feedback presentations of the students and tight and dynamic deadlines, this made for a very interactive and dynamic learning environment. In the end, some of the recommendations of the students were incorporated into the law-making process and taken into account when the law was dealt with in the House of Representatives. This way the students got to make a real societal impact during their learning experience.

2nd prize: Science and Engineering

Teaching team: Dr. Tamás Görbe
Best practice: Interactive knowledge clips

Why do you create knowledge clips for your courses? How do you make them worth watching? What are the potential benefits and drawbacks of having them? Do these clips really help students? How do you spend your lectures then?

These are just some of the questions colleagues ask when they find out I'm making interactive videos for my students. I will answer these questions as well as some others that may help you transform your courses and boost student engagement.

3rd prize: Behavioural & Social Sciences

Teaching team: Dr. Tassos Sarampalis and Laurent Krook, MSc
Course title: Research Methods: Theory and Ethics
Best practice: Student-centered assessment procedure

The course: ‘’Research Methods: Theory and Ethics” of the Department of Psychology is followed by 700 students each year. The teachers are aware that a course about research methods can be difficult for students, but treat this as a challenge. They want to motivate and be relevant for every student. The way they do this is complex but rests on a foundation of basic values: 

  • Communication (clear, personal, continuous, relevant)

  • Freedom (students have the option to choose what they read, what assignments to take, and which grade to aim for) 

  • Respect (discussion is valued and different needs and interests are accommodated)

  • Engagement and interactivity (weekly communication between students and teachers)

  • Relevance (material is useful to everyone, regardless of interests) 

These values can be found in the didactics used. There are weekly quiz assignments to promote continuous engagement, teachers use various scaffolding strategies, and they organize an optional Journal Club. But the values can also be recognized in the assessment procedure. In a specifications grading scheme, students can select which grade to aim for. This is in accordance with the value of freedom.

The values that this course is based on are crucial for student-centred education and the weekly assignments are in line with evidence-based assessments. Furthermore, the course provides a context in which psychological research methods are (societally) relevant, interesting, useful, and engaging. For these reasons, we see the course as a best practice in teaching and learning.

Last modified:25 March 2024 1.58 p.m.
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