Teaching and Assessment Activities in the first semester of academic year 2020-2021

Update 23 November 2020

Important Principles

  • maintaining the structure of regular weeks of teaching for the acquisition of learning contents and competencies
  • creating maximal online and on-campus possibilities for the acquisition of essential competencies, with a focus on competencies instead of specific learning contents:
    1. maximizing online alternatives to replace practicals, work placements, bachelor’s and master’s theses without increasing the students’ study load
    2. enabling on-campus practicals, work placements, research in the context of bachelor’s and master’s theses in case alternative acquisition of essential competencies is impossible
  • maintaining maximal possibility to organize on-campus assessments/exams for (parts of) course units with completed learning contents
  • avoiding extended study duration and shifting course units and learning contents to next semester or academic year unless there is absolutely no other alternative
  • guaranteeing students in their final master’s year the possibility to graduate this academic year
  • guaranteeing periods of recess for students and staff alike

Lectures, Teaching Activities in Large and Small Groups, Group Work

  • Until the end of 2020, the above teaching activities can no longer take place on campus (except for first-year students, see below). Lecturers make the transition to online and/or distance teaching. Lecturers can either teach from home, or can record and stream their lectures in an empty lecture hall on campus.
  • Working together in small groups and group work is also organized online or in the form of distance teaching. If the task/assignment cannot be carried out online or in the form of distance teaching, alternatives are set up.  
  • There is a maximal focus on online interaction with students and on maintaining the structure of the regular timetable.
  • Online classes preferably take no longer than 1 hour or 1h15 minutes. If necessary, a second class block can start after a break. Please note that students have pointed out that taking classes online is much more intense than taking classes on campus. In case of two back-to-back class blocks, students suggest building in several short breaks. 
  • It is by no means our intention to replace teaching activities with pure self-study or simply uploading lecture recordings.
  • Lecturers are encouraged to open discussion platforms on Ufora so that students can discuss the teaching content amongst each other.
  • We ask that lecturers no longer in need of their lecture hall or classroom, report this to the faculty schedulers. That way, the newly available rooms can be used for other purposes. If capture agents were used in the newly available rooms, the recording must be cancelled using the Opencast Planner.
  • In AY 20-21 all teaching activities are streamed and recorded. This means that all lecturers are streamed and recorded. Practicals, tutorials or exercises are streamed and recorded if possible, and if there is a clear added value.

Practicals, Tutorials, Exercises

Update 23 November 2020

Crucial practicals

From 30 November 2020 onwards, crucial practicals, tutorials and exercises can take place on campus again. These are practicals, that demand an on-campus attendence for the acquisition of essential competencies that cannot be attained otherwise. These crucial practicals can only take place under strict adherence of the safety measures.

Per study programme and per standard learning track, a round-up is made of the crucial practicals that can be organized in the remaining weeks to ensure maximal possibility to assess/take exams for (parts of) the course units concerned in January.

If, from 30 November onwards, the remaining weeks (including catch-up week) are used for intensive planning of crucial practicals, booster sessions and exam preparation, the study programme can decide not to schedule exams during the first week of January 2021.

If not all the crucial practicals can be organized in the remaining weeks from 1 December onwards, one of the following possibilities needs to be considered on how to deal with (part of) these practicals.

  1. A full exam is organized in January for the course units concerned. The cancelled crucial practicals are embedded into another course unit (either a second-term or a next year’s course unit).
  2. A partial exam is organized in January, the results count as ‘partial marks’ and are announced via Ufora. The cancelled crucial practicals are scheduled in the second term and assessed either via continuous or end-of-term assessment. The course units concerned become full-year course units with a partial exam in January.
  3. Assessing partial learning contents in January is not possible. The crucial practicals are scheduled in the second term and the entire course unit becomes a full-year course unit with continuous and/or end-of-term assessment.

The extent to which these first-term practicals can be scheduled in the second term highly depends on what the specific pandemic codes will allow. Extra time can be found by using the interterm and/or Easter recess, or the weeks after the exams in June. The programme committees involve the student representatives in the rescheduling of these crucial practicals.

Other practicals

For the entire first term online and/or distance teaching alternatives as authentically as possible are set up for all other practicals, tutorials and exercises. Information can be found on Education Tips. Possible alternatives are:

  • Practicals, tutorials, exercises, … are organized online and in interaction with students. Mandatory online attendance can be required, e.g. in case of continuous assessment.
  • Practicals, tutorials, exercises,  …  are (partly) replaced by a learning pathway, assignment, task, … .
  • Demonstrations may be replaced by e.g. short video clips and quizzes. Conversational skills can be practiced using Teams, Bongo, …   (cf. information on Education Tips)

In setting up alternatives, it is important to make sure that students’ work load does exceed the usual proportions. Feedback from students has taught us that this was often the case last year (e.g. a four-hour practical replaced by a two-day assignment).  

First-year Students and specific groups

Update 23 November 2020

First-year Students

For students in the first bachelor year, specific educational activities can be organised on campus from 30 November. These activities offer great added value, such as exam preparations, booster sessions and interactive teaching activities.

During these on-campus activities, lecturers discuss students’ questions about learning contents, sample questions and corresponding answers. Interaction with students is necessary to answer these questions, and to explain difficult elements of the learning content. Faculties can decide to involve their tutorial services, their tutors and teaching assistants in this process.

Maximum safety measures must be applied to the organisation of these on-campus activities. These relate to capacity, masks, ventilation, disinfection, physical distancing and duration. The full capacity of the auditorium or classroom can be used in occupancy 1:5. All students wear a mask during the lesson. Teachers who are able to keep a distance of at least 2 metres between themselves and the students can take off their masks.

Study-OO

For these students, it is also possible to organise study-OO on campus. To this end, nine study-OO areas have been set up at Flanders Expo and these can be reserved by the contact person from each faculty. In the Study-OO's, wearing a mask is compulsory for all attendees.

Other groups

From 30 November, specific educational activities can also be organised on campus for other students who are studying at UGent for the first time, such as students following a bridging programme or international students, under the same conditions and modalities as mentioned above.

Booster sessions for Senior Students

Since almost the entire term will have taken place online, it is also important to set up booster sessions for senior students. These booster sessions take place online and ensure maximum interaction with students. Sample questions and corresponding answers are discussed, as well as questions concerning the learning contents.

Bachelor’s and Master’s Theses

  • Bachelor’s and Master’s theses are considered to be research activities. Research activities can continue. Students observe the guidelines that apply to research and researchers.
  • It is up to students and their supervisor(s) to determine together whether or not research activities in the context of a Bachelor’s or Master’s thesis that require physical presence on Ghent University campuses can continue.
  • We advise students who are able to continue working on their Master’s thesis to do so in a timely fashion. All the current guidelines and modalities with regard to submission and oral defence remain in place.
  • The impact on Bachelor’s and Master’s theses due to disrupted data gathering, experiments or source consulting is kept to an absolute minimum.
  • Students experiencing a disruption in their data gathering, their experiments, or collection of source materials, … need to inform their supervisor as soon as possible. Together, they look for alternatives and consider whether a shift in focus is necessary for the Bachelor’s/Master’s thesis. Individual students may be granted an extension of their submission deadline. This individual extension can only be granted in exceptional circumstances. The faculties determine the manner in which this exceptional extension is granted, and see to an equal treatment of students. In consultation with their supervisors, those students add a preamble to their Master’s thesis in which they describe their research as it was originally planned, which steps could not be undertaken due to corona, and which alternative steps they undertook.

Work Placements

  • Work placements can continue and in observance of the host company’s safety measures. 
  • A work placement can also be (partly) organized at a distance or as a type of teleworking, with or without additional alternative work placement assignments. Distance work placements can be fully recognized as such. It is important to make sure that the study programme competencies are not compromised.
  • If necessary and possible, alternative work placement assignments can be a (partial) replacement. Alternative assignments must allow students to attain the same competencies and must prevent an extension of the students’ study duration.
  • Students in a Master’s Programme in Teaching, need to acquire a part of their competencies via digital work placement assignments, online synchronous teaching or designing learning materials.
  • Students in work placements that are subject to professional regulations are subject to specific guidelines that have been determined in close consultation with the other universities. Those students will be informed as soon as possible.
  • If a work placement is part of a first-term course unit, and completing the work placement is not possible within the original timeframe, the work placement can be extended to include the entire academic year.
  • If a work placement cannot be completed within the current academic year, and the student is not in his/her graduation year, the work placement can either be (partly) rescheduled to the next academic year, or the entire course unit can be taken up again in the next academic year.
  • If a work placement cannot be completed within the current academic year, and the student is in his/her graduation year, the possibilities are considered together with the student to complete the work placement outside the regular weeks of teaching.
  • If the work placement was taken up as an elective first-term course unit, and completing the work placement is not possible within the current academic year, we strongly advise to consider taking up another elective course unit. The same applies to students who have planned an internship as an elective second-term course unit and if it is not certain that the internship will be able to continue.

Continuous Assessment and Exams

Update 23 November 2020
  • From 30 November, assessments can be organised on campus again taking into account the security protocols that will also apply to the examinations that will take place in January 2021. This means a maximum occupancy rate of 1:10, compulsory wearing of a mask and a maximum duration of 3 hours.
  • On-campus exams will be organized from 4 January 2021 up until 30 January 2021 in observance of the strictest possible security protocols for students and staff. Each room will have three exams a day (starting at 8.30 AM, 1.00 PM and 5.30 PM). Each exam session lasts up to three hours at the most.
    • If study programmes intensively use the remaining weeks from 1 December 2020 onwards to organize crucial practicals, interactive teaching activities for first-year students, booster sessions and exam preparation,  those study programmes can choose not to schedule exams in the first week of January 2021.
    • Students will receive their exam schedule as soon as possible. They must receive detailed information on the assessment of each course unit via Ufora.
  • More information about assessment can be found in the following Education Tip. This Education Tip contains the general framework for on-campus and online assessment in academic year 20-21 and is based on frequently asked questions. The tip includes general information as well as specific guidelines for on-campus and online assessment.
  • Students experiencing problems with online assessments/exams at home, must contact the lecturer(s) concerned. The lecturer, in turn, looks for suitable alternatives together with the faculty. 
  • A number of foreign students remain at Ghent University, while others – either voluntarily or mandatorily – went home and continued to participate in online lectures at our university. Returning to Belgium for the purpose of taking exams will not always be possible and/or allowed. Not all of our international students, in other words, will be able to take part in on-campus exams and practicals. These students need to be given the utmost possibility to take part in an alternative assessment. For students in international joint programmes, faculties will have to make specific arrangements in consultation with the partner institutions and inform their students as soon as possible.

Course Sheets

  • This academic year, each course sheet contains the following superscript: Due to Covid19 it is possible that teaching and assessment methods may divitiate from the ones described below. Any possible deviations will be communicated via Ufora. This allows for any deviation from the chosen assessment method and assessment modality caused by the government safety measures that prohibit on-campus teaching and assessment activities. This also applies for any form of continuous assessment that was planned. 
  • Lecturers must clearly inform their students of any changes via Ufora. It is also important to indicate how the final mark is calculated (e.g. what percentage will count towards the final mark, what formula is used to calculate the final mark, …). Lecturers need to follow the guidelines on Education Tips.

Study Programme Committee

  • From a quality assurance point of view, Study Programme Committees need to keep an overview of the organisation of teaching and assessment activities. This is the only way to ensure coherent policy and to keep students’ study load in check. 
  • Decisions on practicals, work placements, Master’s theses and assessments need to be talked through with the faculty’s quality assurance staff, the lecturers and the student representatives in order to ensure optimal harmonisation. If no consensus can be found, the Director of Studies of the Faculty will be included in this consultation.

Study Areas

Update 23 November 2020
  • Students who need to do so can make use of the designated quiet study areas at Ghent University. Strict safety measures apply when using these spaces, and the spaces are monitored at all times to make sure the rules are followed. Study slots for these spaces can be booked via the webpage https://studieplekken.ugent.be, bookings start each week on Thursday from 7.00pm.
  • Libraries offer online services. From 30 November, most libraries will also be accessible again for research work.

Support

  • We realize that these exceptional circumstances are causing students to have a difficult time during this academic year. We want to continue to offer them our support. The website Feeling good at Ghent University contains several warm initiatives, both at and in the immediate surroundings of Ghent University. We want to make sure that students know which way to turn no matter how small or ‘innocent’ their issue may seem. That way, we hope that our students will not be at a loss when they need help. 
  • Students can contact their lecturers, their study programme, the faculty’s tutorial services, and the faculty support staff. For all questions specifically relating to your study programme, please contact your student representatives. They are your liaison in case of questions, remarks, or in case matters are unclear or go awry.   This list contains an up to date overview of all study programmes and their Programme Committee Chairs (a member of the professorial staff), as well as this year’s student representatives.
  • Lecturers can find technical as well as content-related, didactic information on Education Tips. They can also count on support from their faculty by contacting the tutorial services and/or other faculty support staff. For further questions, they can also contact onderwijsondersteuning@ugent.be .