About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 3976-3985
Publication year: 2017
ISBN: 978-84-697-3777-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2017.1857

Conference name: 9th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 3-5 July, 2017
Location: Barcelona, Spain


J. Lampreia, J.J. Alferes, F. Santana

Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia - Universidade Nova de Lisboa (PORTUGAL)
In Portugal, Faculties of Science and Technology - Degrees in Engineering and Sciences - must address the significant number of students failing their modules.

Our academic year was organised in two semesters, each with 14 weeks of teaching and 7 weeks with 2 different exams per module.
The 1st semester began in mid September with exams in January/February. The 2nd semester began in March, with exams until the end of July. 14 weeks for each semester classes; 14 weeks for exams. A long exam period.

Also, the Faculty felt the need to introduce mandatory modules aimed at providing students with a range of “soft skills”, organised as “true courses”; not “curiosities”. Taking these courses alongside the normal core subjects would produce a weaker commitment to these subjects. We needed some “free time”.

In 2012-13, the Faculty changed the organisation of the Academic Year. We kept the 2 semesters, each with 14 weeks of teaching. However, we changed to 4 weeks of exams/semester and only 1 per module. Between the semesters and during 5-6 weeks all degrees have 4 mandatory soft skills courses, different for each year of the degree.

In 1st year, we have “Soft Skills for Science & Technology”. The modules are: CV preparation; Time management; Team work; Leadership; Advanced use of Excel; Communication in Science & Technology; Bibliography; Ethics.

In 2nd year, we have “Science, Technology & Society”. The modules are: The Information Society; Risk, Security & Responsibility; Science, Technology & Gender; Sustainable network: Environment & society; War & peace: Einstein, Bohr & Oppenheimer; The future Bio & Nano; Man created the Cyborg; Science, Technology & Cinema.

In 3rd year we have “”Undergraduate Research Programme/Undergraduate Practice Programme”. The students choose one and they will spend 5-6 weeks in industry or research labs.

In 4th year we have “Entrepreneurship”. Groups of 4-6 students from different degrees devise an idea and acquire competences on business plan development. The best 10 ideas are publicly presented in an “elevator pitch” session with an external jury and the 3 top scorers receive prizes.

During 5th year these 5-6 weeks are dedicated to the MSc Thesis.
After this period, the 2nd semester begins. Classes and exams finish by the beginning of July, giving students and staff some time until the start of the following year, that they can use for research.

Since the evaluation load decreased, with only 1 exam per module, it was necessary to implement, Faculty-wide, a system of Continuous Assessment, allowing the students to complete assessment on all modules by the end of the teaching period – they can sit an exam afterwards if they fail or want to improve their mark. Also, we considered that such an Assessment system would dramatically improve the students’ success rate. Indeed, since the introduction of this system, students are performing much better.

In conclusion, by changing the way the academic year was organised, we addressed 2 problems:
1) the success rate of our students has increased and
2) we found a way to provide an additional curricular set of skills that did not exist.

The Faculty used this curricular change to introduce mandatory credits in areas completely different from the ones each student is originally enrolled in (6 ECTS in the 1st cycles + 6 ECTS in the 2nd cycle).

Also a specific “Erasmus-friendly semester” was created to facilitate student mobility.
author = {Lampreia, J. and Alferes, J.J. and Santana, F.},
series = {9th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN17 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-697-3777-4},
issn = {2340-1117},
doi = {10.21125/edulearn.2017.1857},
url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.21125/edulearn.2017.1857},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona, Spain},
month = {3-5 July, 2017},
year = {2017},
pages = {3976-3985}}
AU - J. Lampreia AU - J.J. Alferes AU - F. Santana
SN - 978-84-697-3777-4/2340-1117
DO - 10.21125/edulearn.2017.1857
PY - 2017
Y1 - 3-5 July, 2017
CI - Barcelona, Spain
JO - 9th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN17 Proceedings
SP - 3976
EP - 3985
ER -
J. Lampreia, J.J. Alferes, F. Santana (2017) "PERFIL CURRICULAR" - A DIFFERENT ACADEMIC YEAR IN PORTUGAL, EDULEARN17 Proceedings, pp. 3976-3985.