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Alexander van Oudenhoven

A huge compliment

‘The fact that the students nominated me for this prize is a huge compliment for me, my fellow teachers Michiel Veldhuis and Jelmer Schalk, and the education office,’ Alexander van Oudenhoven says. ‘So this prize means a lot to me and the team.’ 

Van Oudenhoven recognises the additional strain online teaching puts on students and teachers. ‘That’s why we take more breaks, and play music or do yoga exercises in those breaks. We even have a communal playlist. I also do whatever it takes to give every student an equal opportunity to contribute and learn. This means lots of live sessions and being available for questions and advice throughout the week.’   

‘Teaching adds purpose to myself and my science’

‘Value the teachers’ 

No matter how tiring online and regular teaching can be, interacting with people who want to make the world a more sustainable place energises and motivates Van Oudenhoven. ‘Teaching adds purpose to myself and my science. I believe that we owe it to our students to make sure they’re taught by people who genuinely care about education. I also strongly believe that we should value teachers more highly and – considering the amount of time we spend on education – at least as highly as research.’ 

Structure is key

For Van Oudenhoven, being able to bring structure to a course is a crucial characteristic for a teacher. ‘It makes all the difference. That doesn’t necessarily have to equal predictability – as long as students are made aware regularly why this lecture, group work, or practical session is taking place and what it contributes to. A teacher also needs to be able to share relevant research and practical experience. It adds to a teacher’s credibility and shows the students why a particular topic or skill can be useful in the “real world”, whether that’s in academia or outside.’ 

Nominated for the course: Governance of Biodiversity & Ecosystems
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