The University of Trento constantly reflects on its teaching methods in order to identify the methods that work and to introduce change where better results may be achieved with a different method. Innovation, experimentation and a multidisciplinary approach have played a key role in identifying the strategic objectives in this area.
Expand teaching methods
Innovation regards both teaching methods (for example, workshops and seminars that run in parallel with lectures to encourage the active participation of students) and the organization of academic activities (departments and centres can assess the availability of teaching staff for the various courses, and allocate resources so as to reduce the number of students in overcrowded courses).
The University can also contribute to improvement by creating an “Innovation Task Force” to stimulate discussion on teaching and learning methods among the teaching staff, on a voluntary basis, thus facilitating the horizontal dissemination of innovation.
Experimenting with innovative learning methods
The University of Trento already offers its students a wide range of non-traditional learning opportunities: internships, workshops, credit-bearing seminars, job placements, activities in conjunction with non-academic organizations, group work and other services through which students learn cross-sector skills. There is still room, however, to do more with the available resources to offer students more options, in a way that enriches learning within each course of study.
Help students stay on track
Action is needed to reduce the dropout rate and make sure that students graduate within regulation time.
The University’s departments and centres must find an effective solution to these problems without lowering academic standards, including, where necessary, by rethinking organizational or academic practices. For this reason it is also worth considering experimenting with more flexible study programmes, in particular for student workers and student athletes who have to balance work and study.
Increase multidisciplinarity in degree programmes
The barriers that prevent students from moving freely among the University’s departments and centres must be removed, to find a balance between training and learning in a given discipline area and the positive influence of other subjects. It must become easier for students to take courses in different departments by increasing the flexibility of study plans, and to take a master’s degree in a different area to the one in which they earned their undergraduate degree.
At the same time, the University will pursue the development of interdepartmental master’s degrees.
Promote cross-sector skills
The opportunity to learn cross-sector skills that complement a conventional course of study has a positive impact on the future careers of students and on the quality of their university experience.
Cross-sector skills are cognitive, emotional and relational skills that enable people to act confidently, both individually and socially, and to adopt appropriate and positive behaviour to deal effectively with the challenges of everyday life (soft skills and life skills).
These skills allow students to use and make the most of the knowledge and academic experience they have gained in their studies, and can become a point of strength of the University of Trento.
The University needs to find instruments to acknowledge informal learning experiences and to start a reflection on the type of experiences it could offer to contribute to the students’ social, cultural and civic growth (sports, cultural initiatives, music, social events, part-time employment opportunities at the University, student organizations, and the contamination lab).
Improve language skills
It is crucial that our students achieve a B2 level in English by the time they earn their undergraduate degree: to this end we must both favour those students who already have these skills when they enrol at university, and strengthen the courses that we offer and the opportunities to study abroad in this first phase. Increasing the number of courses taught in English at undergraduate, master’s and doctoral level is also a priority; this would help students achieve the above objective and also represents a precondition for increasing international student mobility. The University believes in the cultural importance of learning other languages besides English and is committed to increasing the range of languages taught to give students the opportunity to develop multilingual skills as an element of active citizenship.
Encourage internships and studies abroad
Internships at foreign organizations and periods of stay abroad have already increased the employability of young people. It is fundamental to offer these types of opportunities at all levels of study, to ensure their quality and to ensure that they fit with the objective of students completing their degree within regulation time.
Broaden the recruitment of potential students
Admission tests must be used more systematically for all departments and centres, and should also be made available abroad.
In addition to this, we need to design new orientation programmes and initiatives for high school students, in close collaboration with their teachers, with a special focus on those coming from our region.
We must increase our efforts to enhance the ability of the University’s departments to attract students to their graduate-level courses, and strengthen the University’s communication strategy both in student recruitment and in disseminating research outputs.