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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.  

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