A special course for student board members

Good news for students who are about to serve on a board. Subject to the approval of the program and exam committees, the university will offer a special course as of September 2022 with best practices that are directly applicable in administrative practice. In addition, students can earn five credits, which is one third of the required number of credits that year.

photo Vincent van den Hoogen

The proposal for the special course for student board members was submitted by former Groep-één chair Ralph van Ierland and faction member Anne Jenster. “We are currently designing the course. We started pitching it to the various layers within the organization a year ago, and that yielded positive responses. We then decided to write a proposal together with two lecturers at IE&IS, which was approved by that department’s quality agreements committee last month. We aim to offer the course as of September 2022.”

Van Ierland will now continue with the design of the course, together with Anne Jenster, professor Evangelia Demerouti of the Human Performance Management group, and assistant professor Sonja Rispens. “This future elective course is meant for everyone who plans to serve on the board of a study association, student association or student team for a year. Students can earn five credits and the course will take six months. This way, the work load will be spread out across a longer period of time, and it will enable students to reflect on their growth process. As far as we know, TU/e is the first Dutch university that will offer this kind of course, even though the University of Applied Sciences Utrecht offers a similar minor.”

During the course, students won’t be led by the hand and told how to serve on a board. “That’s something you mostly learn from experience. But the course is evidence-based and helps you with best practices. Think of a committee that doesn’t function properly, for example, or a project that has stalled: how do you motivate people to start moving forward again? You could try to figure that out for yourself, but there are proven techniques that work. During this course, students learn those techniques and tools. And you can apply them directly during your year on a board, because most boards rotate during the summer holidays.”

Challenge Based Learning

“We did some research a year ago to find out whether students were interested. That turned out to be the case, in part because students who serve on a board are also expected to take three courses and obtain fifteen credits. That’s often difficult to achieve for students who serve on a board fulltime. Also, the regular courses don’t really match with the board themes, whereas this course matches perfectly. There’s much enthusiasm among students – and wouldn’t it be great if a credits requirement would no longer be necessary with this supervision? The concept of this course is also in line with Challenge Based Learning, because your year on a board is your big challenge,” Van Ierland says.

“Anne and I also hope that this will inspire other students who might have a good idea. Just make the university a proposal, I would say. That doesn’t happen all too often, but the university would gladly support such initiatives.”

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