implementation of Project-Based Learning among master's degree students in selected ELLS Universities (iPBL-EU)

This project is coordinated by the Faculty of Tropical AgriSciences (FTA), Czech University of Life Sciences Prague (CZU) together with partners from the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences - BOKU (Austria) and Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences - SLU (Sweden). This project is funded by the ELLS (Euroleague for Life Sciences) Fund for Incentives.  

This project aims to give an incentive to implement the project-based learning (PBL) within the subject area of Plant Health and Plant Breeding into the courses at the selected ELLS Universities, namely BOKU, CZU and SLU. Its objective is to deepen the master's degree students’ knowledge in the subject by using innovative teaching methods based on the real-time study cases from the practices. The project objectives are in line with ELLS priorities such as: (i) joint teaching and learning among three universities by implementing the project-based learning as an innovative teaching approach in the area of Plant Health, (ii) implement of student and staff mobility by providing students travel grants for ELLS conference, and (iii) support quality assurance by combining experiences from three universities. 

Within the selected Plant Health courses at each university, the students will cooperate in groups under the supervision of their mentors to address the given research problem and conclude it in a written summary supplied by a short oral presentation and 2 pages project proposal. In addition, the students of the course “Project monitoring and Evaluation” taught at CZU will design the evaluation criteria and system for the selection of the winning team. While designing their own problem solutions, the students will improve their teamwork as well as networking, communication, problem-solving skills and will learn how to creatively address current research topics in a way that is understandable to the broader audience. 

Project outcomes: 

The overall objective of the project is to enhance innovative teaching methods in the area of Plant Health at the selected ELLS universities in order to improve the soft skills, science communication, critical thinking, teamwork, and problem-solving skills of the students. The specific objectives are following: 

1) to give an incentive for innovative teaching method implementation 

2) to stimulate the multilateral joint activity within ELLS university partners 

3) to further develop and support the activities and student involvement within the Plant Health subject area 

The above-mentioned project objectives are in line with the ELLS strategy, in particular with the aim of supporting the high quality of education by the sharing of expertise and facilities. 

The project will be implemented from January to December 2022. 

iPBL – Launch of the project activity at SLU

On the 17th of January 2022, the iPBL-EU project was for the first time officially introduced to a broader academic audience. A presentation explaining the concept of iPBL was handed by Anna Maňourová within the course “Plant Biology for Breeding and Protection” at SLU. Thanks to Erik Alexandersson, the course leader, project-based learning as a teaching method was not such a novelty. A similar technique called scenario-based learning has been successfully implemented there for four years now. However, the competition concept of iPBL is innovation and was very positively accepted by all the 22 students participating in the course. The students seemed to be really interested and motivated by the chance to participate the ELLS student conference in Prague, where they could meet the other successful teams from BOKU and CZU.

Four different case studies were forwarded to the students within the introductory presentation. Each topic has been created by a specific person/s responsible for its clear understanding and management, meaning communication with the students and providing a helping hand when needed.

1 – Winter wheat breeding (Aakash Chawade)

2 – The future breeding and management for disease-free, high-yielding (Erik Alexandersson)

3 – Plant protection in crops that are dependent on insect pollination (Asa Lankinen, Kristina Karlsson Green)

4 – Noorda blitealis in moringa trees – How to mitigate the moth while sustaining harvest? (Anna Maňourová)

The students’ groups will present their final outcomes will take place on the 15th of March. Meanwhiles, the iPBL concept is introduced at CZU within the courses “Plant protection and Agrobiology” and “Project monitoring and evaluation” and at BOKU will start in March.

iPBL-EU project evaluation of the project has started

At the end of summer semester, evaluation of the projects, within the subject area of Plant Health and Plant Breeding started. The evaluation took place in different courses at our partners universities. Project final presentations were held face to face on 15th March at Swedish Agriculture University (SLU) and on 11th April at Czech University of Life Sciences Prague (CZU) with evaluators attending remotely.

Four groups of students within the “Plant Biology for Breeding and Protection” at SLU presented their results, followed by discussion. Same approach was taken at the course of Plant Protection and Agroecology at CZU, where group of four students competed with their project results as well. Students also had a task to submit their result in the form of report. Three evaluators representing each of the partner institution (BOKU, CZU and SLU) then asses the performance during the presentation and the written report. Evaluation is done by the unified evaluation sheet developed within the course of “Project monitoring and evaluation” at CZU.

Within next weeks last presentations will take place within the course “In situ treatment of Polluted Soils and Sediments: Phytoremediation, in situ fixation and attenuation techniques” (BOKU). Followed by the presentation from the Summer school with topic Plant Protection Biology: improving plant health under climate change and other stresses (8th – 19th August) at SLU. After finalising the presentations the winners from each institution will be announced and invited to the ELLS conference for final presentation with the teams from other Universities.

You can read more information about ELLS conference at CZU in Prague here.

iPBL – SLU summer course

The last qualification round of the “Implementation of Project-Based Learning among master’s degree students in selected ELLS Universities (iPBL-EU)” projects is successfully behind us. We cannot wait to see all the winning groups in the final round in Prague during the ELLS conference!

From the 8th until the 19th of August, a summer course entitled “Plant Protection Biology: improving plant health under climate change and other stresses” was hosted by SLU Alnarp (Sweden) under the leadership of Erik Alexandersson. As a part of the course, iPBL was introduced to the students, who were divided into 6 groups and worked on 6 different case studies. At the beginning of the summer course, an introduction to iPBL and ELLS was given by Anna Maňourová, who also represented CZU in a jury on the final evaluation day, together with Svante Resjö (SLU) and Sebastian Michel (BOKU). After a very tight score between the last two groups, a team working on “Integrated pest management strategy for thrips to reduce tomato spotted wilt virus in tomatoes in Mexico” has been selected as the winner.

Big congratulations to all four winning teams from BOKU, CZU, SLU and the summer course! We hope to meet you in Prague on the 23rd of September for the final presentation round and the following award ceremony. Please, do not forget to register for the conference even if you only want to attend as a visitor and support your favourite team. The ELLS conference is tuition-free and offers a rich programme from all fields of Life Sciences. See you there! 

We know the winners from the individual partner universities within the framework of iPBL-EU project

During the second week of August, last qualification round of presentations of iPBL-EU project within the SLU Summer School took place. You can read about the presentations here. Now we are looking forward to meeting all the winning groups of each partner institution and from the summer school at the final round in Prague during the ELLS conference!

In total five courses of three partner institutions involving approximately 20 groups of students participated iPBL-EU project. Within each course, groups of students competed with their project results.  Students also had a task to submit their results in the form of report. Three evaluators representing the partner institutions (BOKU, CZU and SLU) then assessed the performance during the presentation and the written report. Evaluation is done by the unified evaluation sheet developed  during “Project monitoring and evaluation” at CZU.

We would like to sincerely thank all the partners and participants and congratulate all the winners. This way we would like to congratulate the winning groups:

Within the course Plant Biology for Breeding and Protection at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences - SLU (Sweden) winning group presenting results of the “Introducing IPM principles to Ethiopian farmers to control pest damage of Noorda blitealis in Moringa trees” project was selected. Namely, Judy Quach, Noomi Lodenius, Eivor Dubusc, Celien Ovaere, Muhammad Faizal Rezha Zulkarnain.

At the Czech University of Life Sciences Prague – CZU (Czech Republic) within the course Plant Protection and Agroecology group defended the results of the project topic: “Insect pests in moringa trees, Noorda blitealis – are there alternatives to pesticides?” namely, Zuzana Rázková, Reva Viaud, Nitkamon Lamparsetkun, Robert Masáre won the competition.

Flora Brumen, Alicia Jezek, Luca Bernardini, Viktoria Gaul, winning group presented their results on “Effects of CaCO3and Fe-Oxide amendments on heavy metal uptake of Zea mays” at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences - BOKU (Austria) within the course In situ treatment of Polluted Soils and Sediments: Phytoremediation, in situ fixation and attenuation techniques.

And finally, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, ELLS Summer School - SLU (Sweden) on the topic Plant Protection Biology: improving plant health under climate change and other stresses. As the winning group team working on “Integrated pest management strategy for thrips to reduce tomato spotted wilt virus in tomatoes in Mexico” was selected. Namely, Helene Garre, Raf Verdaasdonk and Zivile Buivydaite.

Once more we would like to cordially congratulate all the winners and officially invite them to participate in the final round of presentations and evaluations during the ELLS conference on 23rd September in Prague, Czech Republic. The Grand finale will be concluded with the award ceremony.

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