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‘You want to train doctors who will keep asking critical questions’

Determined, innovative lecturers are the driving force behind our teaching. Alexandra Langers, a specialist in gastroenterology and hepatology at the LUMC, is an active educator, both within and outside the hospital. She passed the Senior Teaching Qualification at the end of last year. ‘I want to cultivate students’ investigative skills.’

This is part four in a series of interviews with lecturers who have recently passed the Senior Teaching Qualification (STQ).

It would be fair to say that Alexandra Langers is passionate about teaching. She teaches trainee gastroenterologists and hepatologists in the Leiden area, coordinates the second year of the Medicine programme and lectures in various postdoctoral programmes that focus on lecturer professionalisation. ‘Teaching is an important reason why I work in academia,’ she says. ‘It gives me energy to see students enthusiastic about the material that you’re trying to teach them and to see them gain new insights.’

Common thread

Given the number of hours she invests in teaching, Langers decided to do the STQ. ‘The STQ programme gives you the opportunity to look at your teaching from a distance to see whether there is a common thread. For me, this was that I find it important to activate students and let them discover things for themselves, to cultivate their investigative skills. You want to train doctors who will keep asking critical questions.’

Alexandra Langers being awarded her STQ certificate. ‘I want to activate students and help them discover things for themselves.’
Alexandra Langers being awarded her STQ certificate. ‘I want to activate students and help them discover things for themselves.’

Using subconciously

Langers has also benefitted from the teaching theory covered in the programme. Participants share knowledge in feedback groups, for instance. ‘Because of our schedules, we created our own feedback group at the LUMC, led by a trainer,’ says Langers. ‘We covered different topics in the modules, such as assessment methods, learning theories and how to integrate your research into your teaching.’ We discussed teaching theories that I was already using – sometimes subconsciously – in my teaching. I can now make more explicit use of these. For instance, the theory of cognitive load, about the different types of human brain. You want the information to lodge in the long-term memory. Whether or not you succeed depends on how you give instructions and offer the information. Now I’m much more aware of the importance of this, I’m even more explicit about drawing students’ attention to their starting level. This better prepares them for the new knowledge.’


In line with the common thread that she identified during the STQ, Langers brought some innovation to the specialist training programme for doctors at the LUMC, which entails giving them more responsibility. ‘The trainee doctors now state what they want to learn. We have already introduced this in the regional teaching plan: say what you need and we’ll try to facilitate that.’

She believes this empowerment is the essence of good teaching. ‘You have to activate students, arouse their curiosity and give them a sense of responsibility for their own teaching. They have to be enthusiastic about the discipline; they themselves chose it after all.’

Text: Jan Joost Aten
Photos: Eelkje Colmjon

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Senior Teaching Qualification

The STQ is a qualification for lecturers who play an active role in the University’s educational development and innovation at the curriculum level, so beyond the limits of their own discipline. For the qualification, lecturers have to create a portfolio demonstrating that they have achieved the four learning outcomes, which relate to:

  1. Conduct within the academic teaching environment
  2. Creating and elaborating on a teaching programme with a view to the context of a curriculum
  3. Preparing and providing teaching
  4. Having an impact on the teaching within one or more degree programmes that extend beyond the lecturer’s own teaching programme. 

In addition, the lecturer must meet the following criteria at the start of the process: be in possession of the Basic Teaching Qualification, have taught different courses and year groups at a university level for at least five years and have applied a variety of teaching methods. Read more about the STQ

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