Steering Students to University Success

Translated by Nina Fink, Marine Miller
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Le Mooc "Racines" propose aux futurs étudiants en médecine de décortiquer le sens du vocabulaire utilisé en Paces.
Racines teaches pre-med students useful words for their future work. // ©  Université de Lorraine
Several French universities are now offering study orientation MOOCs for high schoolers as they prepare for the university admissions process. These courses aim to prevent student failure in overenrolled and selective degree programs.

Do psychology degrees require math classes? How can I learn the medical vocabulary I'll need for my first year of a pre-med or sports science program? French students ask themselves these questions every year as they select their university studies. This year, three universities are responding with MOOCs.

The schools offer the courses right after the mock baccalaureate exam at the start of the online application process before the February break. "Students have more time to think about what they want to study," explains Ophélie Carreras, psychology lecturer at the University of Toulouse Jean-Jaurès.

Just the Facts

Carreras says, "Our Introduction to Psychology MOOC clears up confusion about the degree. Unlike philosophy or math, psychology is not taught in high school. Many students are surprised to learn they have to take statistics, which is very useful in psychology." Demand for psychology and medicine programs outstrips supply in France. Carreras notes, Better orientation "could ease the first-year backlog."

Use Your Words

For University of Lorraine biology professor Bertrand Rihn, these MOOCs also expose students to new material. Racines, [Roots], the MOOC he created with Sorbonne Greek linguistics professor Claire Le Feuvre, helps students "break down new words and use etymology to deduce their meaning". 2,500 students have signed up for Roots already.

Rihn noticed that "fewer and fewer science and medicine majors have studied Latin or Greek. They don't know how to analyze words and guess their meaning. Pre-med students have to learn between 1,200 and 1,800 new words – almost a whole new language!" Racines teaches them useful words for their work.

Student Appeal

Catherine Mongenet, Project Manager of the digital university platform FUN, says, "We expect to see more orientation MOOCs in 2017. They're an excellent way to help high schoolers." University of Lorraine education professor Viviane Vaillard explains, "We included high schoolers and pre-med students in the MOOC design process." Above all, the courses were designed to be fun.

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Translated by Nina Fink, Marine Miller | Publié le