Universiteit Leiden

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Conference | Leiden Teachers' Academy

The changing role of academics in the professional development of students

  • Paul Ashwin
Monday 20 November 2017
Nieuwe Energie
3e Binnenvestgracht 23
2311 NR Leiden

Are you as an academic interested in educational innovations? Do you want to your teaching more effective and attractive for your students? Visit the annual Leiden University Conference, organised by the Leiden Teachers’ Academy and get inspired!

Higher education in the Netherlands is on the threshold of a major cultural  transition towards a closer focus on students’ personal development and the training of students to be able to play a productive role in society. This year’s programme discusses the role academics have in preparing students for their professional future. Is your  academic responsibility limited to state-of-the-art teaching of (advanced) knowledge or does it include delivering well-equipped students to society? At the conference we will discuss the limitations and interesting possibilities for bridging the demands of advanced knowledge, transferable skills and the needs of students.

The symposium is intended for lecturers and students at Leiden University and focuses on improvements in teaching in the practical environment.  

Teaching and preparing students

Paul Ashwin, Professor of Higher Education at Lancaster University, will give the keynote lecture, entitled “Making Sense of Employability in Research-led Teaching Environments”. He will argue that there is not necessarily a mismatch between teaching a particular discipline and preparing students for the job market, assuming that the staff design the curriculum with a clear image in mind of the qualities of alumni who have followed the programme.  


The lecture will be followed by a forum discussion on the role of teachers. Can they be expected to structure their teaching so as to develop competences that can be applied more broadly? Opponents and proponents will take part in the debate and the audience will also be able to let their views be heard.

Concrete examples

As usual, this LTA conference will also offer concrete examples of possibilities for adapting the structure of the teaching to give better results for students and teachers. The participants will then be challenged to determine in discussion with one another whether and how they can incorporate in their teaching the wishes expressed by students for a stronger focus on their future as alumni.   



Registration, with lunch


Keynote lecture: Making Sense of Employability in Research-led Teaching Environments.

Paul Ashwin,Professor of Higher Education and Head of Department of Educational Research, Lancaster University, UK.

There are increasing demands for undergraduate degrees to develop graduates who are prepared for employment. Such demands can be particularly challenging in a research-led teaching environment. In this keynote lecture, Paul will talk about the false tension between the role of universities in preparing graduates who can contribute to society and their responsibility to offer students access to disciplinary and professional knowledge. Paul will argue that it is through en gagement with disciplinary and professional knowledge that students can be prepared to make a contribution to society, which includes but is not limited to employability. 


Forum discussion led by Vice-Rector Hester Bijl

Forum members: Paul Ashwin (Professor of Higher Education, Lancaster University), Sanne Akkerman (Professor in Educational Sciences, ICLON), Arjaan Wit (Director of Studies Psychology, Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sicences), Jan Sleutels, (Director of Education of the Institute of Philosophy, Faculty of Humanities),  Ghislaine Voogd (Chair Leiden University Student Platform)


Coffee/Tea break


Inspiration pitches

Get inspired by a number of examples of fellow academics! How did they change their teaching to motivate and activate their students, incorporate 21st-century skills training and/or stimulate thinking about professional development at the start of a student’s bachelor’s or master’s programme?


Break-out sessions led by LTA fellows

During the breakout sessions, you will join a table discussion with fellow academics from various faculties to sharpen your views on the role of an academic in the professional development of students. Which pitch topics inspired you? How would you like to contribute to the professional development of your students? What would or wouldn’t work in the context of your teaching? Or do you think professional development should primarily be achieved through extracurricular activities? LTA fellows will act as discussion leaders and invite you to share your thoughts and experiences with peers, thereby sharpening your own thoughts, plans and ambitions.


Short wrap-up with main conclusions of the day and tips for successful and easy to implement innovations.




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