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MA students in neurosciences better prepared for their future

2 September 2021
In his STQ project Career and Academic Skills Portfolio (CASP) Christiaan de Kock has focused on skills training in the research Master’s programme in neurosciences, preparing students as thoroughly as possible for a future in the academic world or elsewhere. This research was oriented specifically to strengthening skills training such as job application training, mental resilience or science communication.

It emerged from the National Student Survey in 2019 that Master’s students in neurosciences needed extra help in preparing for a professional career. Consequently, skills training was added to the curriculum; it assists in personal development.

As skills training has only recently become part of the curriculum, de Kock’s STQ project gave the time, leeway and focus for a thorough evaluation. That led to a further quality improvement, allowing the additional wishes of students to be implemented. To that end, evaluation interviews were held with current students and alumni.

Since that thorough analysis, skills training is no longer an isolated component but a red line that runs through a large part of the curriculum, with a considerable number of lecturers and subject and track coordinators making a contribution to teaching soft skills such as stress management, project planning, mental resilience, science communication and job application training. Moreover, the discussions with students (and alumni) have led to attainment targets and teaching activities of the curriculum dovetailing better with students’ learning needs.

As course coordinator, Madison Carr has combined her experiences in skills training with the findings of Christiaan de Kock’s STQ project, thereby developing a proposal for broad-based educational innovation. The educational activities in question are those where, during their Master’s degree programme, students learn to reflect on their professional competencies and take responsibility for their own development. In the meantime, this proposal has been awarded a Comenius grant by NRO, allowing Madison Carr to elaborate skills training further in the coming years in the Master’s programme in neurosciences, biomedical sciences and biomolecular sciences.