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Dr. Stefania Grecea, associate professor at HIMS, has received UvA Grassroots funding for her proposal 'Mind the gap! Bridging pre-knowledge gaps using digital concept maps'. She will develop the use of digital concept maps to bridge students' pre-knowledge gaps.

graphic representation of mindmapping
Image: Miro.

Through Grassroots funding, UvA stimulates ideas to innovate education using ICT. Grassroots are small-scale, low-threshold projects in which students and/or teachers enrich, improve and/or intensify education with the help of an ICT application. Results of the Grassroots project are used directly in UvA education.

Learning strategy and instructional tool

Grecea is the coordinator of the master track Science for Energy and Sustainability in the Master Chemistry. Students enter this master track from different disciplines and different countries and thus have heterogeneous pre-knowledge backgrounds and skills. This has an influence on how they acquire, interpret and organise new knowledge. A mismatch between the student’s knowledge and the lecturer’s expectation hampers the learning process of students.

In her Grassroots project, Grecea will implement the use of concept maps in two MSc courses. The advantage of concept maps is that they can be used by students as a learning strategy and by lecturers as an instructional tool. For concept maps Miro will be used, an effective platform where students can work together in a synchronous collaborative way.

International cooperation

This Grassroots project also aims to promote and stimulate the use of digital tools that support active learning and critical thinking in the learning process of students and to share the gained experience with fellow lecturers. As such it is closely related to the Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership project STEM-CPD@EUni where a new approach in continuous professional development (CPD) in natural sciences, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) is being developed.

Lecturers who innovate education, the so-called CPD-Ambassadors, play a central role in this approach. Under the leadership of Dr. Grecea, a team of HIMS lecturers works in collaboration with the Faculty of Science Teaching and Learning Center (especially Dr. Natasa Brouwer). STEM-CPD@EUni project is a consortium of 5 EU universities and the European Chemistry Thematic Network (ECTN, a network of 140 universities). They recently published a position paper outlining the role of the CPD-Ambassador in raising awareness of the importance of CPD and the development of STEM lecturer competencies for the sustainable quality of university education in STEM, in particular in Chemistry.