D. Molina1, A. Pérez-Jiménez2, I. Ruiz-Rube1, J.M. Mota1

1University of Cádiz (SPAIN)
2University of Granada (SPAIN)
After the application of the Bologna process, the master studies are experimenting a continuous increment in the number of students (in Spain in 2016/17 there was a 8% more students than in previous course), an remarkable fact specially taking into account the decrease in the population in the range of 18-24 years. This growing interest has produced a great number of master studies in advanced topics that sometimes attract to students coming from different degrees. There are multiple reasons of that diversity in the origin of students: it could be an inter-disciplinary course of interest for students, or a very-specific area not still covered by a wide number of degrees. Unfortunately, this diversity in the students background implies a challenge for the teachers in the master: For advance courses, understanding most sophisticated concepts/techniques usually requires a previous knowledge of several concepts/techniques in which the first ones are build onto, knowledge that not all students could have. However, the diversity of students make very difficult to share that required previous background. Thus, we encourage to tackle this challenge from the beginning using a two-phases process to reduce this problem without perjuring students with enough previous background. First, considering the possible origin of students, trying to detect the gaps in the required knowledge for the main courses. Second, to include into the master offer at least one introductory course specially designed considering their background studies. From the point of view of the student with enough previous knowledge, these courses are optional so they could be ignored, and in the rest of courses, the level does not decrease. From the point of view of the students with gaps in their knowledge, they should invest more time but at least they will get a better understanding of the other courses. In our opinion, this protocol implies a good trade-off between the interest of each type of students, in a realistic way.