In the majority of undergraduate programs taught at UBT the students will be required to undertake practical and/or laboratory work. However, whatever its form, practical teaching is likely to contribute a significant proportion of the taught component of these courses and to account for the majority of a student’s contact time with teaching staff. We are in the creating process of the Industry Board of the Faculty to help our students quickly to adapt the industry and to be part of it.
The aims of practical work vary but usually include:
In the first year students are usually asked to follow protocols and familiarize themselves with basic methods and equipment. In later years students will be expected to design and plan their own experiments and investigations which could ultimately conclude with the students undertaking a major piece of individual project work.
The underpinning educational theory for practical work is that of experiential learning or ‘learning by and through doing’. So a key belief is that the students need to have experience of carrying out learning tasks and then be supported to reflect on them critically. The ‘writing up’ or reporting of practical work is therefore very important. Students are frequently guided to critique their work and propose improvements on the approaches they took and the results they achieved.
Depending on the discipline, practical sessions may run over a whole day or half a day and be supervised by academic staff, laboratory technicians and postgraduate demonstrators. One of the challenges for academic staff is therefore to coordinate this extended ‘teaching team’. For example, it may be necessary to timetable preparatory work with technical staff months in advance of the class, especially if living materials are to be used in the class. It is likely that postgraduate students working as laboratory demonstrators will need to be selected trained and briefed on the particular session and guided on particular roles such as ensuring safe working practice or assessing the students’ laboratory skills and/or reports.
UBT has many agreements with various institutions and companies (IPKO, ASEKO, Ministries, Raifaissen Bank etc) and has proven to be a success story.