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Transitioning to a new educational system

Seven years ago, the University of Twente introduced TOM, the Twente Educational Model (Twents Onderwijs Model in Dutch. Using TOM, the bachelors were built up of coherent modules, each containing a collection of courses in the same field and a project to put the acquired knowledge into practice. The goal was student development according to the T-shaped model, which means that students are able to utilize their knowledge in a broader context next to being strong in their respective discipline. Thanks to the projects, students gain knowledge on how to practically implement the theory they had learnt before. TOM also led to a shorter duration of study for students because students were less likely to postpone one subject to the next year.

Time for change

Unfortunately, the previous form of TOM had some downsides. It was not possible to get study points by passing just one course. Instead, all other courses in the same module also had to be passed to receive 15 EC for the entire module. This also means failing one course meant having to redo an entire module and all its courses, even if you had a good grade for these other courses. This led to a lot of stress and additional work pressure on students. Next to that, it was impossible to integrate some courses. An example is the mathematics course, which does not fully correspond always to their respective modules. Due to this, after some years the math courses were regarded as a ‘satellite’ part made into a separate study unit by the electrical engineering programme. Besides that, measures were taken to lower the consequences of failing one course. An example being when students would receive an additional repair option if they had only failed one of the courses. A repair being an extra retake for the failed course.

In electrical engineering some measures were already taken to lower the study pressure that was experienced by students. This helped Jasper, a fourth-year bachelor student of electrical engineering (who’s interview can be seen below). However, these measures were often not enough, and can be seen in another interview with Lars (also mentioned below). Similar to Electrical Engineering, several other studies also made adaptations to TOM based on how it fit their respective studies best. However, as seen in the case of EE, these changes still needed to be revised in order to improve the educational system even more.

TOM 2.0

From this year on, the strict rules of the TOM 1.0 will make place for a new and improved system called TOM 2.0. Last year, a transitional arrangement was used. Students failing just one course do not have to redo the entire module anymore; they can leave the grades for the courses they passed as they are. From this year on it will also be possible to receive EC for individual subjects. Still, parts of the module structure of TOM will be kept. It has been convenient to have coherence between subjects and put the gained knowledge together during a corresponding project.

What does this mean for me?

Each program can now decide for their own modules whether it will be integrated, coherent or a mix of both. The integrated module basically works like the old module system where one study unit of 15 EC contains all the courses, and the study points corresponding to this unit will not be received until a student passes all corresponding courses. It is thus not possible to keep the grades for passed courses either. In a coherent module, all courses are separate study units. For each passed course you will get the EC and the result of one course does not affect the other courses. Finally, the mixed module has a bit of both, wherein some courses have an integrated structure. This is like the structure just before TOM 2.0 was introduced, for example in which the math course is a separate study unit. In the bachelor of Electrical Engineering, most modules are a coherent module, were the results of the courses don’t influence one another. Module 7B (Network Systems) and 11 are both a mixed module. Only the two minors and the graduation assignment in module 12 will remain as they were.

In Electrical Engineering, many courses were already more or less split into separate study units, with ‘virtual ECs’ that could be gained. Meanwhile, the programme was also busy with a redesign and this year it was also decided to shuffle the curriculum. This was done because of several reasons. First there was an overlap between module 1 and 2 with the circuit analysis. These modules were thus combined into one super module with a goal to give the first year students a good grasp of the basics of Electrical Engineering. Next to that, the programme wanted to make a math-line and a programming-line. Instead of learning both Matlab and C in the first module, Programming in C was moved to module 2. Besides that, linear systems was moved out of module 6 to give students a bit more space to study the interesting, but complex courses during the module. The continuous time part was added to module 5, whereas the discrete time part was added to module 8. This again resulted in some adjustments and finetuning in the courses. All changes and the transitional arrangement can be found on Canvas.

For future reading and/or more information on TEM and its development the last few years you can read this Tubantia article, or refer to the University’s official page.

© Cover image: University of Twente