Why are students so satisfied with education at NMBU?

Many students point to the good teaching as one of the great advantages of studying at NMBU. We talked to one of our best teachers to find out why.

Each semester, the students at NMBU crown the teacher they believe has made the best effort. Postdoctoral fellow Vegard Nilsen is one of those who can adorn himself with the title Teacher of the Year. He is currently studying for a master's degree in engineering at the Faculty of Science and Technology.

Engaged students

He believes that an important factor to a good learning environment is that students are engaged.

“The students at NMBU are characterized by the fact that they are above average when it comes to being engaged in their subject. Many probably make a conscious choice to study at NMBU. Some students perhaps land on the more general universities a little randomly, because they don’t quite know what they want to do. NMBU has a clear profile, and we therefore see that many students have thought carefully about their choice before arriving here,” says Vegard Nilsen.

He thinks that NMBU’s sustainability profile engages many.

“The university’s sustainability profile attracts many. I teach in a study program called Water and Environmental Technology, and we see that for many students it is important that we have the word “environment” in the name,” says Vegard.

Vegard in his home office.

Actively engaged students

Another experience of good teaching is that students are encouraged to be active.

“I think it is important that we call it teaching and not lectures. There must be something more than just 45 minutes of monologue. Active students are one of the main keys. It demands a lot from both me and the students, but when it succeeds, I see that the students get so much more out of teaching,” says Nilsen.

His method is to use a little time at the beginning to introduce a theme before students work with concrete assignments in the classroom, followed by finding the solution together in plenary.

Nilsen thinks that it is also important to vary.

“At NMBU we have a lot of practical teaching that engages students. We have a lot of labwork, fieldwork, and practical demonstrations. Good teaching is about building a good package from A to Z,” he says.

The teachers at NMBU have great academic freedom to choose the setup that works best for their students.

“It is important to get feedback from students, so that you can keep building a better setup,” says Nilsen.

Close to students

At NMBU it is not too difficult to know what students think. Here there is close contact between students and teachers.

When students wonder about something, it is easy to get in touch.

“I think it is important that we are accessible to students, also outside of teaching hours, that we answer emails and phone calls and have an open-door policy,” says Nilsen.

Translated by: Sari Christine Cunningham