RSU Lecturers Study in Order to Teach
20 members of Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU) teaching staff brought more inspiration, knowledge, and endurance to their healthcare and legal sciences students this winter after graduating from the RSU School of Junior Academics (SJA).
Last spring representatives from 12 structural units decided to participate in a thorough and enriching professional development programme. Once a week for six months, the lecturers took part in classes both in person and online, attended colleagues’ lectures, created development portfolios and independently reflected on their learning experience. They now reflect that they have increased command of their profession and feel more supported by the university even outside their department, study programme and even their field. Classes for the second SJA are scheduled to start in April.
At the closing event on 24 January, RSU Rector Professor Aigars Pētersons said that SJA is not about getting a framed diploma at the finish line after a marathon of intensive work, but rather about acquiring a set of tools that can be applied in classrooms on a daily basis. Over six months the participating lecturers explored such topics as educational philosophy, the quality and modernisation of higher education, academic integrity and ethics, organising the research study process, and psychological aspects of cooperating with students. In addition participants honed their skills in developing study course design, utilising e-learning opportunities and improved their understanding on study quality assessment.
The School of Junior Academics is a unique project within Latvian higher education and has this year been nominated for the Student Union of Latvia’s annual awards in the category Contribution to the Enhancement of Academic Life. No other institution of higher education in Latvia has a development platform like this and SJA also received praise from education experts at an international conference held in Austria.
‘Institutions of higher education have always known how to attract skilled young specialists, but being a good specialist does not always equal being a good lecturer. This requires specific knowledge and skills that SJA can provide. The university’s students are the ones who will benefit the most,’ notes Professor Tatjana Koķe, RSU Vice-Rector for Studies. Professor Koķe’s support was essential during the first stages of developing the idea for the school at the Centre for Educational Growth, admits Assistant Professor Nora Jansone-Ratinika the centre’s Director. ‘We are very pleased to note, however, that from now on the driving force behind SJA will be the energy of academics themselves.’ The closing event when alumni shared their experiences of the previous six months turned out to be so emotional that the project acquired a new unofficial title – the Family of Junior Academics. Participants felt like they had gained a strong network of supporters and advisers that will always available.
As early as five years ago when the Centre for Educational Growth was created, RSU affirmed its determination to invest in the teaching staff and started to forge a plan for building the competence of junior academics. Creating the School of Junior Academics was merely the next logical step on the path of growth, enhanced by the co-funding of the European Social Fund (ESF), notes Raimonds Strods, Manager of teaching and learning projects at SJA. SJA was established as an ESF project activity and will become a permanent asset of RSU.
The School of Junior Academics 2019/2020
- 20 academics from 12 structural units
- 20 face-to-face lectures amounting to 46 academic hours
- Course content developed and taught by: 24 experts from RSU, Riga Technical University, the Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music, the National Library of Latvia
- Next application: in March
- Academics working in the fields of healthcare and legal sciences elected for academic positions for the first time during the last four years are invited to participate.