ZNU Journalism Faculty received a positive peer-review report from the DESTIN project panel, who peer-reviewed the updated BA and MA Journalism study programs in March. The peer-review visit was a planned step of realization of three-year Erasmus+ KA2 project DESTIN – Journalism Education for Democracy in Ukraine: Developing Standards, Integrity and Professionalism.
The panel chair was Nico Drok (President of EJTA/European Journalism Training Association, Professor of Windesheim University, Netherlands), and other representatives were Veronika Menjoun (a journalist and media expert, Fojo Institute of Linnaeus University, Sweden), Marc Schwärzli (expert in quality of education, World University Service, Austria), Kostiantyn Kovalishyn (Ukrainian Student Association, Kyiv) and Iryna Kondratenko (Hromadske Radio, Kyiv). They had a series of closed meetings with university administration, academic staff, students, alumni and employers, who cooperate with Journalism Faculty.
After this meetings and previous studying of the peer-review documentation, the experts provided a detail report with recommendations how to improve the study programs in Journalism. The project coordinator in ZNU Katerina Sirinyok-Dolgaryova mentioned some major points: «International experts of DESTIN project appreciated the work of ZNU Journalism Faculty. They were impressed by the changes the ZNU team has made over the past fifteen months. These changes comprise of actions such as the development of a mechanism for surveying students, introducing/expanding student-centred learning, involving students and alumni in the process of updating programs. They all emphasize the necessity for quality journalism. Having such a common view within the team and together with stakeholders is a valuable asset; it serves as an indispensable foundation for building academic programmes».
The experts provided some recommendations about the internationalization of the study programs. They suggested more intensive involvement students into participation in the exchange programs. They also advised to broaden geography of internships outside Zaporizhzhia region as well as deepen ties with stakeholders for monitoring the quality of the study programs at the faculty.
Before the peer-review visit, the Journalism department’s academic staff worked daily on modernizing BA and MA curricula based on new approaches to student learning and cooperation with employers.
What should freshmen students expect in 2020?
Bachelor’s and Master’s levels 1st year Journalism students will study on updated curricula. During last year DESTIN team and administrators of ZNU Academic Office were working on modernizing the curricula. As a result, now the MA program is oriented on forming a researcher, a media manager and a journalist-analyst. The BA program will be much more practice oriented. Head of Journalism Department Yulia Liubchenko informed: «We united theoretical modules, they became separate thematic modules within a bigger course (History of Journalism, Theory of Communication, Introduction to Journalism). We also introduced modules that are required by modern media industry: Creative Writing, Fact Checking, News Writing, and Basics of Visual Editing. We want our students to acquire practical learning outcomes needed for employment in different types of media and working on professional tasks: searching of information, producing content in different formats, applying knowledge of professional and ethical standards, be knowledgeable in different issues. The teachers revised content of their modules, precisely formulated the learning outcomes, improved forms of assessment they use».
About student centred learning
The base of the updated study programs in Journalism is a student-centred approach. It means not only providing students with free choice in selecting modules to study. Now and onwards the students will participate in discussing the core concepts of the study programs, be able to propose changes for studying process. «We improved the processes of students choosing modules, developed student questionnaire to assess modules in terms of quality of teaching and learning. First online survey was conducted last semester; the second one is planned for the nearest future. It is a news form of work for us, that is why we are improving this mechanisms, and will spread this experience on other study programs of our Faculty», – told Dean of the Faculty of Journalism Viktor Kostiuk.
About cooperation with employers
The DESTIN project stimulated the cooperation of the faculty with employers. An Expert Council has been established at the faculty that comprised of representatives of local media. Katerina Sirinyok-Dolgaryova told more about this initiative: “We need this cooperation because practicing journalists provide us with feedback on the level of professionalism of our faculty graduates and the needs of the modern labour market; they help organize internships and employ graduates. By the way, graduates are also our employers. Today they work in different cities, in all-Ukrainian and regional mass media; they gained intensive experience, which now share with our students. That is why we have created the Alumni Association of the Faculty of Journalism, which members are not only our advisers, but also conduct master classes, trainings for students, help in organizing internships».
To remind, DESTIN is an international project, which participants aim to align their study programs with European Qualification Framework (EQF) and in particular with European standards of academic integrity and professionalism, strengthen ties between students and media industry. Among partners are ten Ukrainian and four European universities, 5 professional organizations and the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine. The project is being realized for three years and will finish in November 2021.