Lecturers who listen
One is being recognised for her inspiring teaching and the other for his ability to create a wonderfully positive climate for study. Tina Karrbom Gustavsson and Patric Jensfelt are this year’s recipients of the KTH Pedagogical Prize.
Unexpectedly strong November sun streams in through the windows on the sixth floor of the new building at Teknikringen 10B. The light and airy lunch room is where Tina Karrbom Gustavsson and Patric Jensfelt meet for the first time. They have been awarded the KTH Pedagogical Prize and are here to be photographed together.
Tina Karrbom Gustavsson is a university lecturer and Associate Professor of Project Communication, while Patric Jensfelt is a Professor of Computer Science specialising in Robotics. Both do a great deal of teaching – and really enjoy it.
“If you want the students to be engaged, you have to show an interest in what you teach, it has to be obvious that you have a passion for your subject,” says Patric Jensfelt, and Tina Karrbom Gustavsson agrees.
Questions and counter-questions
Tina is being recognised for the inspiring and engaging nature of her teaching. The jury citation also states that she perfectly tailors her teaching to the abilities of her audience.
“I think this is because I have frequent interaction with the students during and after their studies at KTH and through my blogging and op-ed articles. I always try to adapt what I say to the interests of the students or audience, so they feel that I’m speaking directly to them,” she explains.
“But generally, my teaching is based on asking open questions and counter-questions. My students study urban planning, and it’s important to prepare them for a challenging career. My job is to train people to formulate problems, and as such you have to be able to ask questions.”
Patric Jensfelt also cites the importance of dialogue:
“When teaching the course, I encourage questions and dialogue. This works best on my robotics course, where I can speak with the confidence of an expert.”
The jury citation highlights his ability to create a wonderfully positive climate that stimulates the students’ interest and engagement.
“I try to be accessible and show interest in the students as people. It’s important to see the course from their perspective, show an understanding of their problems and be a good listener,” says Patric.
Environment and housing segregation
Both have several tips for other educators, including aiming the teaching at all the students, not just the narrow band at the top.
“The top band will do well in any case. The vast majority appreciate recaps and revision,” states Patric.
“Another tip is to place the subject in a particular context by raising current social challenges that have a bearing on the subject. Both Swedish and international students like it when we examine global issues such as the environment or housing segregation,” says Tina.
Towards the end of the interview, Patric Jensfelt and Tina Karrbom Gustavsson consider the significance of the pedagogical prize in an environment where research qualifications are usually what count.
“It’s rare for anyone to ask a new KTH lecturer about their educational ambitions. The main focus is on recruiting a research director – that’s how the system is designed,” says Patric.
“It’s great that the prize exists, but this should really have a natural place in the qualifications system,” asserts Tina Karrbom Gustavsson.
Text: Karin Strand