A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
An advantage of workgroups is that students are compelled to form their own opinion and to intervene during class. However, the participation grade might push many to speak even if they are not convinced of what they are saying, just for the sake of being noticed by the professors and receive a good final grade.
In my old university, participation was not taken into great account but some teachers were definitely eager to reward those who showed more interest in the subject.
Another big difference concerns the examination methods. While in the Netherlands students are used to write research papers and take written exams, students of social sciences and humanities in Italy prove what they have learnt with an oral exam, face to face with the professors or their assistants.
Writing papers definitely helps students to improve their writing skills and to do research. However, as the topics are often very specific and picked by the students according to their preferences, big parts of the programme are left out of the essay, with the teachers unable to verify whether the student acquired sufficient knowledge of the subject.
On the contrary, oral exams drive students to thoroughly learn the whole programme, as the teacher could potentially ask any chapter and topic of the book (or books) assigned at the beginning of the semester.
Contrarily to the master in Leiden, attending classes during my bachelor was not compulsory, confirming that in Italy students are pushed to work mostly outside of class hours.
The Dutch system also highly values public speaking and therefore presentations in front of the class, while these are less common in Italy.
Ultimately, I came to the Netherlands without any experience in writing papers and making public presentations. While this put me in a difficult situation initially, I feel that I have now acquired new useful skills. In my opinion a mix of both systems would prove to be extremely beneficial, so that also Dutch students can adapt to the experience of oral exams and acquire additional skills to use on the job market.
Did you enjoy my post? What do you think? Let me know your opinion in the comments!