Traditionally, university instruction has primarily been conceived of as the transmission of knowledge through lectures, during which students take notes. Indeed, this practice is still widespread in our university system today.
However, as a result of our university’s adaptation to the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) and the new “Bologna method” of teaching and learning, it is necessary to radically change how we understand and approach instruction. Our programmes thus strive to promote independent learning outside the classroom through the development and use of new information technologies (interactive websites, intranets, public administration simulators, etc.), whilst at the same time encouraging students to engage much more actively in their learning process: searching for research materials, participating in group discussions, attending tutorials, completing required reading, undergoing continuous assessments, etc. In short, the aim is to gradually reduce the number of lectures whilst increasing participative learning based on seminars, which encourage much closer and more direct interaction between students and teachers.
In addition, we have a teaching system based on threemonth terms and an individualized tutoring model (Tutorial Action Plan). The goal is for tutors to guide and advise students in their personal, academic and professional development process. The tutorials may be carried out individually and/or in groups as requested by the tutor or student and are conducted facetoface, although they may be reinforced with digital resources whenever needed.
The Political and Administration Sciences programmes also aim to promote technical and applied knowledge in the social sciences, for example, through interactive lessons held in computer rooms. In this vein, the department has recently created the Support to Quality and Teaching Innovation Unit (USQUID) specifically aimed at teaching staff, for the purpose of promoting research and experimentation with new teaching methods inspired by the philosophy of the Bologna method.
To this end, the USQUID has launched the project ‘Vilapompeu: The Virtual City Council’, which received the Jaume Vicens Vives Distinction for Quality in University Teaching awarded by the Catalan government at the proposal of the ministry responsible for university affairs. ‘Vilapompeu’ is a tool that simulates the website and intranet of a Catalan city council and acts as a support tool for facetoface teaching in political science and public management programmes.