Italy and Denmark: Teaching methodologies compared

What are the characteristics of Danish teaching methodology, particularly at the university and post-university levels, compared to the Italian situation? Denmark is a country that differs from ours in many respects, both in the area of society and that of work. With its population of five and a half million and an Atlantic climate, which is not among the most welcoming (although not as harsh as many suppose), this society places the family at its center and dedicates much attention to the upbringing and education of the young (click here for an overview of the education system). The country invests 8% of its GDP in education (at 2010 figures), which is completely free and therefore accessible to all. It comes as no surprise, then, that this year too, Denmark is at the top of the UN’s World Happiness Report, at the head of the 156 countries surveyed. Teaching methodology, especially at the tertiary level, aims at encouraging personal responsibility, self-expression and critical thinking in a learning environment based on openness and informality. A central feature is problem-based learning: lessons consist mainly in debates and discussions of practical and actual cases in which students play an active role and exchange ideas informally and on an equal footing within their work groups and with the teacher. Students are taught to be critical of their sources (whether these be texts or the teacher in person) as well as of their own intuitions. Traditional frontal lessons are not so common, and are accompanied by exercises and practical lessons. End-of-term examinations consist for the most part in individual or group project work in which there is a limited role for factual knowledge and the assessment is made of the student’s ability to apply what they have learned in a practical way (e.g. drafting a plan of communication). A further stimulus to innovation comes from a progressive internationalization, with the offer of numerous educational opportunities in English (at the level of BA, Master, PhD and summer school). In the two-year period 2009-2010, over 17,000 international students chose Denmark, a trend that grows each year. A good idea of the added value of studying in Denmark is conveyed by their comments in this video. For further information: Danish Agency for Universities and Internationalization Study In Denmark Silvia Ravazzani

written by: Silvia Ravazzani , 22 November 2013

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