Published on January 19, 2022

Studenten over beoordeling en het niveau van SVL (2021)

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Systems View on Life omvatte een min of meer vrij reflecties op het vak. In deze reflecties blikken studenten terug op het vak en reageren op het proces en de inhoud. Er is nog een andere set reflecties met een iets andere informatie.

Onderstaande is gebaseerd op citaten uit de theory reflections van 19 van de 23 studenten van vorig jaar (overige 4 hadden geen reflectie op het onderwijsproces gegegeven). Het betreft selecties die iets te maken hebben met beoordeling, de wijze van leren en het academische niveau.

Er was geen bijzondere reden (zoals de kans op een hoger cijfer) om overdreven positief te zijn in deze reflectie.

De reflecties van studenten die het vak Systems View on Life (SVL) zijn geanalyseerd en gecategoriseerd door een persoon die niet betrokken is bij de RUG en zelf het vak niet heeft gevolgd.


Het vak Systems View on Life (SVL) wordt overwegend hooggewaardeerd door studenten uit het 2021 cohort. Studenten spreken over vaardigheden die ze kunnen toepassen in de rest van hun persoonlijke en academische leven, zoals kritischer en onafhankelijker nadenken op eigen kracht. Hoewel sommigen de lesmethoden onorthodox vonden (en een enkeling ook was geshockeerd), werd de vrijheid voor de student om eigen keuzes te maken en ideeën te ontwikkelen zeer gewaardeerd.

De onorthodoxe lesmethoden en -inhoud lag voor veel studenten buiten hun comfortzone, wat als ongemakkelijk wordt omschreven, maar werd uiteindelijk om diezelfde redenen zeer gewaardeerd en als leerzaam ervaren.

De overwegend positieve feedback van deze studenten is te vangen onder een aantal thema’s

  • Opgedane ’life skills’: vaardigheden die wijd toepasbaar zijn en studenten zullen meedragen in de rest van hun leven (zie 1, 5, 7, 13)
    • Kritisch, onafhankelijke en vrijer nadenken en luisteren (zie 1, 4, 9, 10, 16)
    • Redeneren buiten eigen comfortzone (zie 10, 15)
  • Het persoonlijke karakter van de cursus en de ruimte voor persoonlijke ontwikkeling en zelfontplooiing (zie 6, 13, 14, 15)
  • Lesmethodes: dit vak laat veel ruimte over voor de groei, ontwikkeling en inbreng van de student, blijkbaar in tegenstelling tot veel andere vakken aan de UCG. De lesmethoden werden omschreven als ‘onconventioneel’, maar daarmee ook als ‘verfrissend en spannend’ (zie 11). De studenten zijn veelal te spreken over het enthousiasme van Tjeerd en frequente feedback die zij kregen op de wekelijkse opdrachten (zie 1, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 19).

Over het algemeen geven de studenten zeer positieve reflecties op de SVL cursus en geven aan veel geleerd te hebben (zie in het bijzonder 3, 5). Echter, hoewel gering, was er ook duidelijke kritiek aanwezig:

  • De cursus laat veel vrijheid over voor de student voor eigen ideeën en invulling. Hoewel vaak gewaardeerd, ervaarden sommigen studenten ook een gebrek aan structuur en onduidelijkheid over de beoordeling en becijfering van geleverd werk (zie 17, 18).
  • ’triggering’, ‘ongevoelig’ woordgebruik, ‘respectloos’, onveilige omgeving: één reflectie bevat een zeer duidelijk kritiek op zowel Tjeerd Andringa, de lesstof én de resulterende afbraak van een prettige leeromgeving. Verklaring 18 is verreweg de meest kritische uiting op de SVL cursus. Hoewel de gehele reflectie van deze student uiteindelijk overwegend positief is, bevat deze kritiek zaken die meer aandacht behoeven en speerpunten dienen te zijn voor verbetering van de cursus (zie 18).

De reflecties

Student 1

I am very pleased with this course because what I have learned is applicable in many situations. I know this because I already see a difference in myself. That is very refreshing compared to other courses I have had so far, both in UCG as in Mathematics. Having real-life benefits from learning is the strongest motivation for me. I admit that I do not even care about my grade or assessment method for this course anymore because it cannot even express the knowledge I have gained so far.I learned a lot by listening better to people in the documentaries for this course, but also from others outside this course, and it has only been a few weeks. This strongly motivates me to keep listening and ask questions.

Student 2

There was so much freedom in your course, as long as you were respectful and good and strong reasoning. There was also a lot to learn in this course, but the nice thing was that you could almost choose to learn as much as you wanted.

Student 3

This course is very different from other courses, but it has taught me more than I have learned so far from other courses. This course teaches not only all the things I mentioned before but also that progress is far more important than the end product. You asked how this type of learning should be assessed but I think it is pretty perfect how it is right now. I really liked doing the homework assignments and your feedback was a little confusing at the beginning but very helpful after. I also really liked the idea because you could do whatever you wanted to do, choose whatever you liked and that’s the reason why I chose for Liberal Arts & Sciences, I wanted to choose my own path.

Student 4

This course is also full of hope because it shows us that we are able to educate ourselves of our own volition. We should know that we have the ability to develop our full autonomy and acting is always more effective than staying in the ambiguities.

Student 5

At first I was not sure what to expect, but I think I have never learned so much in this little amount of time in life. It goes beyond learning some information, it makes you think critically. Something I will be able to use the rest of my life.

Student 6

When I decided to take this class, I was excited to be able to write about my views and opinions about the subjects mentioned in the topics. I thought we would be given material that was obviously biased, and we would write what we thought and discuss. I didn’t expect this class to change most of my views and my mindset. I walked into something completely unexpected, and it ended up opening my mind, making me more understanding towards others, decreased my own internal extremism, and affected both my daily and personal life. This class is the reason I came to a liberal arts and sciences program. This class helped me open my mind so much and I am now in a place where I believe I am on my way, but I KNOW my mind needs more of this. This class by itself changed the way I see almost everything in my everyday life and I believe it’s helped not only myself but people around me. If there was another class similar to this or an informal continuation I would be very very interested. I haven’t really experienced this type of learning before. I am grateful to finally have had a class that was focused on development in general but also our own personal development. The fact that we were graded and assessed on our personal development in response to the material given was not only a stress reliever, but also incredibly beneficial because I was able to focus on my own development and actually SEE it happening with each homework assignment. I also believe the discussions and ability to choose our own final project helped me understand the information more. I was interested every time and was excited to see the way other people thought. I was also very grateful to work on a topic of my choice for the final project, because I not only learned a lot about something I have a lot of interest in, I was also able to apply it to the class and to my own life. I honestly believe this class should be mandatory for everyone, not only because of the content but because of the way of learning, how it is personal and about how we GROW instead of what we remember.

Student 7

As for my individual development, this course has given me all the tools I need for what life has to offer to me. That is what I mainly liked about this course, it will give you tools for you to develop depending on your life path, it does not force you to life your life on a certain way or to use the tools on a certain way, it shows you all the options that you will need eventually and gives you the tools for it. It depends on us how we use it and how much we benefit from it.The way of learning and teaching the course is an incredibly unique one. The learning objectives are much more abstract and are difficult to assess since they are more oriented to personal growth and mind expansion rather than facts and figures that can be tested**. I think that every course should be like SVL in some way. This course prepares us for life and teaches us awareness towards different topics and the opinions we can find there.** It teaches us how to improve our ways of thinking and understanding the world.

Student 8

In conclusion, I have gained much from this class but most importantly it is an example that learning can happen in a different way; Although not all subjects can be taught like this, for me Systems View on Life proved that we don’t need to standardise everything for education to work and that creativity can be rewardable in academics.

Student 9

Only because of this course I started to educate my mind in a way I have done it before. I’m on my way to getting better and better but I think that I need more coaching and input, I would love to just continue the course in block 4I would like to thank you Tjeerd for putting so much effort into the course! I really enjoyed the constant feedback and conversations we had. The course made me realize why I wanted to study Liberal Arts in the first place. Your course challenged me in the best possible way and I hope we can find a way to continue this course in some informal way! I am supporting this type of learning a lot and I think it should be part of every single course to learn how to think for yourself and not only say what the teacher wants to hear. In order to assess the learning outcome in the end of the course the close contact to the teacher is the most important thing in my opinion because only when the teacher can see how the student improved over time he is able to assess the work. Furthermore a clear syllabus is really important (which was the case in SVL) because then the student is able to combine their individual learning and working style with the clear grading rubric.

Student 10

Wisdom allows to apply knowledge and a theoretical understanding to the real world, it is a valuable skill that I believe should be more developed in the educational systemSVL is more focused on you developing from your inner self than willing for you to develop defined skills. If I had to describe it in terms of dynamics I would say it is our inner self meeting the world and not about making the world meet us. By that I mean we are pushed to truly think for ourselves, to self-reflect on our boundaries and comfort zone. On the contrary, other courses have a tendency of ‘imposing’ competences and knowledge as an unquestionable truth. Most often, the syllabus’ are rather rigid making it impossible to go in a relatively free direction. Although it seems quite difficult for RUG to assess the exactitude of SVL, it is actually its lack of precision that should be valued - students and teachers get to choose together what they want to explore and discuss and there is no better way to have a positive and motivated working atmosphere. It is the best way for people involved to enjoy themselves during the course, while making the skills assessed individually persuadable to everyone.I also believe the way the course is assessed is very adapted to both the true flexibility of the course and the need for more rigidity coming from bureaucratic needs.

Student 11

I was definitely taken out of my comfort zone on multiple occasions but I believe that it was part of the journey and learning outcomes. I have definitely learned how to act in situations such as these and found it extremely rewarding Extremely interesting course with unorthodox methods which was refreshing and exciting. Assessment was fun and weekly classes and homework were fun to participate in. Marleen was really great help and assisted me whenever I had questions. Tjeerd is an incredibly interesting and wise character and I enjoy listening to him and learning from him.The focus on addressing alternative, and sometimes, frowned upon perspectives of world events was a great method of teaching refined thought which I will carry with me in the future. Briefly touching on the method of teaching in the SVL classroom, it was, as I said above, unorthodox, refreshing and exciting. I learned that this is a common opinion shared by members of my year group and the SVL class of last year. In the discussion with Jan (I’ve forgotten his surname), many praises were given to the layout of the course including how we are taken out of comfort zones and how development is the focus of the course. The simple facts are that we are in an educational setting and the overall goal of such a setting for the majority of students is exactly what is taught in this class; development and wisdom. The focus on discussions and reflections each week help us all to gain a deeper understanding of themes and I would like to see such methods be taught in other lessons. Overall, I have thoroughly enjoyed the SVL course and I would strongly recommend others to take it if I am given the opportunity to do so. It has taught me, through unorthodox teaching methods, discussions and interactive learning about my life, the future, and how true development works.

Student 12

Already the question “ what do you value more intelligence or wisdom” in the first questionaire of the course sparked my interest. In the following weeks, I was happy to learn more of the concept wisdom. I really like the idea of wisdom but firstly I could not name what exactly it entails ; merely that it is a skill that is of high value and you gain it through experience. Soon I learned more, for instance, what the core-creation mode is and the three-dimensional concept of wisdom by Ardelt. What fascinated me about wisdom is for instance that it is a skill/state of mind that is not linked to a specific time /epoch. Instead it is said to stay similar throughout the course of human existence. This kind of questions of the questionnaire I appreciated a lot, similar to our discussions in class - all the topics were of high importance/value. Furthermore I appreciated your one by one feedback on our weekly reflections. Overall already with the first lesson you catched the interest of everyone and I, and many others similarly I assume, were very motivated towards the course and the learning process :) (for example by inventing us to your farm, being very engaged and motivated by yourself, sharing interesting content)

Student 13

I perceived “The Systems View on Life” to be a very unconventional course, both in terms of the content being taught and the method of teaching it. The lectures and homework worked together to promote a deeper understanding than a purely academic approach could provide.Enjoyed it a lot, even though (or maybe because?) it was probably the most challenging course until now. I perceived “The Systems View on Life” to be a very unconventional course, both in terms of the content being taught and the method of teaching it. The lectures and homework worked together to promote a deeper understanding than a purely academic approach could provide. The type of learning in SVL differs a lot from other courses in the way that the course is much less about specific information, but more about a general outlook on how the world works and how one can make sense of it. One could say that it is much more “meta”. By building connections from the course content to my personal life, I feel like this course’s main function for me was providing me with tools for my personal and academic development. For this purpose, the assessment methods used in the course were appropriate, as personal development is strongly dependent on where one’s starting point is. Therefore, it would not make sense for this course to have standardised learning outcomes, which would limit the nuance and decrease room for individuality. In general, I still believe that “classic” standardised tests have their place in education; they can serve as a motivation to learn important concepts, which might otherwise not be properly understood, and are more feasible when needing to evaluate the performance of a large number of students. It is of course not ideal, as different people have different styles of learning, but at the same time, many students do not have the luxury of small classes like the ones in UCG, and so individual assessment of all of the students might be very difficult to implement on a large scale.To conclude, I believe that this course will be of much help in my further academic and personal development, and I would recommend it to anybody who is willing to broaden their horizon and be brought out of their comfort zone, as those were the main effects that it had on me.

Student 14

SVL course provided me with multiple insights about the topics that I was already acknowledged with. However, homework, materials, and lectures made me look at these topics from a different point of view. I realized that I approached many issues from the side of my closed bubble. Through provided materials and homework I went beyond my comfort zone, which was challenging, but at the same time very developing. It made me think outside the comfort box I was familiar with. The course had a significant impact on my self-development. The discussion about intelligence and wisdom changed my mind on both notions. I acknowledged the power of wisdom and I started to respect and value wisdom more than beforeAfter the course I have more motivation in educating my mind and I’m really exciting where this will lead me.

Student 15

This course fits into the reasons why I picked this study; multiple perspectives, thinking outside ‘the box’ and not everything is just black-and-white terms. In the beginning, we had to fill in a questionnaire. There was a question about what I thought about ‘offending opinions. I filled-in that if I feel triggered by it, I’m interested in why it did so. The comments on the homework were very direct, clear, and triggering. This fits into critical thinking and getting me out of my comfort zone. It was really nice because I could actually apply the statement about being interested in why I feel so triggered about something. Each time I tried to understand it and eventually saw where the comment was coming from. Understanding people, statements and circumstances is something I always wanted to reach in life and this course got me on the right track.

Student 16

Reading the description of this course left me a bit confused, but interested at the same time. I really liked the idea of creating your own voice and position without following the crowd. A couple weeks into the course, both the confusion and interest stayed with me. I am used to other courses where I am used to being told exactly what to do, which I like and am very good at. Systems view on life pressures you to create your own opinions without much help.However, that is the reason I have learned so much and I am very appreciative of that. I used to listen in order to answer and now I am trying to listen in order to understand.

Student 17

What I found really cool were Tjeerds answers on the homework while those words really showed me that I was making progress in my work and I thought that was really nice. The difference between Systems view on Life and other courses was really nice. But I think for one block it might be enough. Tjeerd let us do our own thing a lot and in some cases that is really nice but I personally like structure too. That is also why I disagreed with replacing ECMS with SVL because I thought that SVL is a course that everyone should follow but one block is definitely enough. The grading in this course might be something that can be improved since it was really vague most of the time on how assignments were going to be graded. Honestly, it isn’t entirely clear for me still. Are we graded on everything by itself or on the growth and development between each assignment. Especially for the homeworks. In the beginning no one really knew what to do and what Tjeerd wanted from us which was a bit weird. In the end I really enjoyed following this course and I think it will help immensely in the future. Especially for capturing information and really listening to what others are saying so you can form your own worldview and get an educated mind.

Student 18

I really loved this course! At the beginning to be honest I thought Tjeerd was a bit insensitive (even if he had asked what triggered people) as I heard some people got really offended by some of the selected words that he uses. I think at times its a cultural shock as well. But other times we see that most of what he says he can back up. I think the only problem at times is the word choice (at the beginning at least) was a bit shocking… What was also shocking is that this class is kind off made so that we question people and our own beliefs and sometimes I felt like we were getting lectured on not questioning the people in the videos because they are some big fanzy professors or researchers that know what they are talking about and we (students) don’t… This felt a bit insensitive because they might know more than us but it doesn’t mean we can not question them. He was trying to talk to us about respecting them (which I try to follow of course) but it also seemed like a huge disrespect to us. After that I thought it created a little bit of a hostile environment (for me) to say anything going against the videos. However, even with that said most of the time I felt safe to express myself in the class (although I was always intimidated by the other students as well). And I feel like I have learnt a lot more than in other classes to be honest. I want to continue this way of thinking as it opened my eyes a lot of the times to things I was not seeing before. The type of learning in this course is so different as it is tailored to the students. In the beginning, we got a form to fill out with our interests which was already so different to any other course. In our first class, we went through the syllabus, but then we went through the form, and as we went through it, we would discuss our preferred grading, feedback and learning systems. Then Tjeerd took this new information and made adjustments to the syllabus with our chosen topics. Moreover, I truly appreciated the weekly homework. At first, the 300-word commentaries were daunting and challenging, but I started to improve so much with each week’s personalised feedback and discussions. I had never felt improvements like this. Usually, it is like memorising or understanding new concepts, but this was more in-depth. However, I would have liked to see some grading for these homework assignments not initially because it might discourage this type of feedback learning and improvement. Still, maybe there can be a mid-block average grade of the assignments. This would give us some guidance on how we are doing.However, overall I appreciated this new way of learning/teaching as I feel like I have learnt more from this class than probably any other class so far.

Student 19

Then, the case of the type of learning during Systems View on Life. I personally really liked it. It brought me out of my comfort zone because of the topics presented, but more importantly (I think), in the way I had to learn. Especially the Idea forming was really fun for me. I loved that we could pick almost any topic and really make it our own. Combined with the theory we learned, this Idea has turned into something I have never produced before and I really value that. Also for me personally, I coupled this Idea to making changes in my own life through academic ways. This has greatly helped me already and I don’t think I could have achieved that in this fulfilling way without the contents in this course and the way they were presented. Although I most definitely wasn’t someone who participated a lot during the classes, I did like the format of the classes. It wasn’t just a long-lasting lecture, there was actual discussion and we went deeper into the learning material than in any lecture where the lecturer just babbles on for hours on end. Because the actual lectures were just pre-recorded, this was possible and I would honestly not mind if other courses started to adopt this way of teaching too.