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How to strengthen your relationship with your students - 2

Last updated on 4 May 2023
Realistic case studies as a starting point for learning, studying in heterogeneous groups, being available as a teacher even outside of classes, and having a student assistant organize social activities. This is how Jaap Boter reinforces student involvement in the Master's in Marketing. How does this program director go about it and score the highest on student satisfaction? Read five tips here.

Tip 1: Base your teaching on real world problems

The Master Marketing focuses on analyzing and solving problems of real companies like Microsoft or FrieslandCampina. Each subject starts at the workfloor of a company. The head of marketing talks about what their job entails and what the biggest challenge of the moment is, for example how Microsoft can compete with companies that offer free office software. In the working groups, students reflect on how the theory from the lectures helps them to better understand the challenge. At the end of the course, the company attends the students' presentation of the best proposed solutions.

The teaching format of Marketing is a special form of case-based learning or project based learning. Can't find a company to work with? Then look for a community organization such as in Community Service Learning projects at VU.

Tip 2: Work in heterogeneous groups

Students work in heterogeneous groups to analyse and solve problems. Learning to work together and using their diversity in solving the problem is an integral part of teaching. Because of the diversity within the teams, students learn to see more perspectives and thus arrive at better solutions. Students assess each other within the team on various aspects of group work, at the end of each case. In the third period, they write a reflection on how they were assessed in the different teams and cases in the first and second periods, and what that says about their team skills and development thereof.

Tip 3: Organize a simple course evaluation

At the end of a term, students answer three simple public exit ticket questions about teaching: what should we stop doing? What should we keep? And: what should we add? These simple questions are answered by more than 60% of students. They continue to do so because in each follow-up period it is made clear what is being done with the feedback. The exit ticket is a great addition to the VU approach to course evaluations

Tip 4: Have a student assistant organise social events

Appoint a student assistant whose only task is to organise social events for your students. The investment may seem big, but the return is considerable: extra social bonding and a positive influence on the student involvement in studying and active learning.

Tip 5: Be accessible

The culture within the program is focused on supporting students in their learning. Not only in terms of content, but also by paying attention to social well-being. This requires being available not only during formal educational meetings, but also around them. Lecturers are therefore often online well before the start of the lecture and often stay on afterwards for questions and chitchat. This time around the meetings yields very different conversations that students value.

Want to know more?

The tips in this article are very concise. Would you like to know more about these tips? Feel free to contact Jaap Boter: