Didactic development of study programmes
Creating something together
In order to successfully develop a course of study from a didactic perspective, a holistic view is required that also includes structural, higher education policy and social aspects. The wishes, needs and demands of all parties involved need to be considered. Reasons for further development can be, for example, a change in the subject or the job description, a changed student body or competencies that are not sufficiently achieved by the students.
In close coordination and cooperation with the Academic and Student Services, we offer analyses to verify perceived needs for change in your degree programme or to identify new requirements. We also advise and support you in the design of the change process and the further development of the range of courses.
When designing new courses of study, the didactic perspective, i.e. the coordination of course and module objectives as well as teaching and examination methods, should also be considered from the outset.
On this page you will find concrete instruments that you can use in the further development of your curriculum. Examples from TUHH give an impression of how the theory can be implemented.
We look forward to hearing from you!
What actually is …
Didactic further development of the study programme
The didactic perspective in a further development of a course of study can refer to the following aspects:
- Are the objectives of a study programme adapted to the professional requirements and are they reflected in the modules? Can all relevant technical and interdisciplinary skills (such as scientific work or team competence) be acquired?
- Do the modules in a curriculum build on each other in terms of content and methodology? Do the examinations match what is to be learned?
- Is the distribution of effort for student learning in a degree programme evenly distributed? Are self-study and attendance time sensibly interlocked and structured?
Specific challenges of a degree programme can also be dealt with didactically, such as a lack of application relevance, consistently poor performance in certain subjects, a changing student body or even a growing degree programme.
However, the (further) development of study programmes always requires cooperation between different stakeholders, so the didactic perspective cannot be seen in isolation from the professional or structural concerns.
What do the colleagues at the TUHH say? What were their goals and challenges? Read here in interviews about the experiences of already implemented further development projects.
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Irina Smirnova is the programme coordinator of the Process Engineering programme and head of the Institute for Thermal
In an interview with ZLL, Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Volker Turau reports on challenges and milestones in the process of
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Heike Flämig is head of the Logistics & Mobility (LUM) degree programme and professor at the Institute of
Do you see a need for change, but do not yet know exactly where the problem is? Do you need a basis to talk to your colleagues about changes in the range of courses on offer? Here you will find a selection of analyses on which we can advise you and support you.
Quantitative surveys of the various stakeholders in a study programme help to better assess the expectations of these groups and initiate a dialogue for further development. We support you in the design and implementation of initial and interim student surveys, in the evaluation of graduate surveys and in surveys of teachers and employers.
Qualitative assessments of the interviewees' perception of your study programme are collected via interviews. The focus group interview also creates a direct dialogue between the respondents, and the interviewer's comprehension questions are also possible. In this way, the data collected provides a basis for further quantitative surveys and puts the results of analysis into a broader context.
In a networking study lasting over a year, students write down weekly thematic references between the courses they have attended and previous modules. They distinguish between self-recognized references and those mentioned by teachers as well as explicit repetitions. Thus, the professional connections between the modules are examined in order to better coordinate them with each other.
Self-assessments by students of their competences at different points in their studies can provide information on the actual development of these competences compared to the intended learning objectives of the modules and the programme.
The TUHH collects various data that can be interpreted for the further development of a study programme. Existing surveys, such as the study quality monitor or graduate studies, can also be evaluated for individual study programmes.
Study programme maps
In a course map, different levels of the curriculum, such as the teaching and examination formats, learning goals or content-related relationships between the modules can be clearly presented. For example, gaps or oversupply can be identified.
On the evaluation parcours, students are provided with a protected room for one day where they can give feedback on their course of study. On moderation walls they give their evaluation on different topics. The often dialogue-like statements can be evaluated by semester. Compared to the focus group interview, a larger subset of students can be reached.
A time load survey determines how much time students actually spend on their studies. Daily entries on their study-related activities (e.g. attending classes, preparation and wrap-up) as well as the type of activity (e.g. reading texts, solving tasks) show the workload of students in attendance and self-study as well as the distribution of the workload over the semester.
The comparison of one's own course offerings with those of other universities and the needs of the labour market provide a good basis for the further development of a course in terms of content and structure.
If you have specific questions about individual instruments or how to combine them sensibly, please contact us.
Changed framework conditions require a reorganisation of the range of courses on offer? You want to talk to your colleagues about changes in the range of courses on offer? We support you in designing and moderating change processes.
The Department for Policy Issues of the Service Division Teaching and Studies and supports quality development in teaching and studies.
The colleagues advise you on issues such as accreditation, process development and evaluation.
Writing is not only an important means of learning at university, but is itself a complex competence. In the engineering sciences, writing is closely linked to the development of research competence. Newly developed knowledge and research findings are communicated via texts, disseminated and taken up again by others. In order to understand research and do research themselves, students must be familiarized with these practices (Kruse et al., 2016). In addition, examinations are written-based – first and foremost the final thesis, which requires students to be able to write scientific papers at the end of their studies.
Which facets of a writing competence do students ideally acquire in a Bachelor’s degree?
The Gesellschaft für Schreibdidaktik und Schreibforschung (GEFSUS) defines competent writers in its position paper “Schreibkompetenz im Studium” (2018) as
- Use writing for critical thinking,
- productively control your own writing process,
- and communicate according to the text conventions of the respective professional community.
How should study programmes be designed to optimally promote the development of student writing skills?
As a rule, students do not have the ability to write scientific texts at the beginning of their studies; rather, they must first develop this ability in the course of their studies (Kruse et al., 2016). Optimal is a continuous promotion of writing skills over the entire course of study. However, this must not be integrated into the curricula and module manuals through specific courses on academic writing alone, but must form an explicit subject of teaching/learning in the course of study (GEFSUS, 2018). If the promotion of writing competence is embedded in professional contexts, writing as a means of communicating, arguing and reflecting can be tested directly in one’s own subject (Kruse et al., 2016). Only when several academic papers have been written can students formulate and argue in a scientifically appropriate manner (Pohl, 2007).
GEFSUS Society for Writing Didactics and Writing Research. (2018). (2018). Posititon paper Writing competence in studies. Retrieved from http://www.schreibdidaktik.de/index.php/aktuelles/137-positionspapier-schreibkompetenz-im-studium
Kruse, O., Haacke, S., Doleschal, U., & Zwiauer, C. (Hrsg.). (2016). . Editorial: Curricular aspects of writing and research competence. Journal for University Development, 11(3), 9-21.
Pohl, T. (2007). Studies on the ontogenesis of scientific writing. Tübingen: Niemeyer.
In order to strengthen the research relevance of a degree programme, it is helpful to take stock of previous research-related teaching and learning activities. The most popular model for systematizing these formats (see figure) was published by Mick Healey in 2005 and was further developed by Ruess et al. further developed in 2016. Here, modules can be examined with regard to their point of reference between content and research and, on the other hand, with regard to the students’ level of activity in the associated courses or modules. In this context, a distinction is made between three main areas with regard to the linking of research and content: Specialist content can be linked to research results, research methods or the entire research process. The activity level of the students is again differentiated according to whether they learn receptively, apply acquired knowledge or are active in research themselves.
With the help of this model, for example, learning objectives, contents, formats and forms of teaching, learning activities and examinations can be made visible and related to each other on the basis of module descriptions. This preparation forms the basis for well-founded discussions between the lecturers involved in the programme.
Detailed information on research-related teaching and learning through research can be found here.
Make use of the creative scope within the framework of the course development to create space for inter-disciplinary, international and/or municipal projects.
With application-relevant topics, you will assemble students into “research teams” that already deal with relevant challenges in a protected environment. This is an important preparation for future engineers at a technical university that trains young people to solve the problems of tomorrow.
Taking advantage of current problem areas is a convincing form of motivation. Projects offer themselves as the didactic format for engineers in research and industry to give the study programmes their common profile, e.g. based on the I³ concept.
Its diverse characteristics an infinite source of didactic possibilities, can significantly shape your course of study. E.g. a project in the centre, to which all modules can refer in terms of content, the project in the project strand, whereby each project addresses different competences, the project as a container, which you can fill inter-disciplinary and interdisciplinary (!) or the project accompanying the event or, if applicable, accompanying the course of studies, so that a direct application or practical relevance could always be established, if desired:
It is up to you and in the freedom of research and teaching to think about a sensible, didactic setting and to implement a step-by-step realization in the long term. It is not impossible to implement interdisciplinarity also in teaching.
Which digital competences should be taught as a priority in a degree programme? These can be digital skills, for example, which are helpful for the personal learning strategy of students. Or competences that facilitate the collaborative development of texts, protocols or other products.
It is also important to address generic digital competences so that students can fulfil their future role as engineers or researchers. In future everyday work, for example, the competent use of simulation or statistics programs from the various specialist disciplines can be important. When planning a study programme, such competences should then be systematically built up along a competence line and carefully planned in terms of workload.
The university’s learning management system (LMS) can be a good starting point for teaching digital competences. Used sensibly and moderated, it can become the central platform for teachers and students. Thus, the LMS can offer space for deanery and study programme specific appointments, the assignment of project tasks, student research projects and final theses as well as the implementation of surveys and evaluations. Many LMS also offer the opportunity to create a wide range of online learning units that can be useful to accompany the self-study phase or for formative assessment.
A good coordination of the modules within a course of study always requires good planning or a review of the forms of examination. How students are examined in a course of studies decides (not alone, but decisively) when, what and how they learn.
Once the learning objectives of a degree programme have been defined, it should then be considered in which module examinations these can be examined and whether modules and their examinations build on each other meaningfully for the desired acquisition of competence.
- Tasks for the pure application of formulas rather lead to practising the procedural steps and not to a deeper understanding. It should be considered, for example, whether after a module with a more application-oriented examination, the subject content should be examined at a later semester at a higher level in more comprehension-oriented examination tasks.
- If a deeper understanding is required for certain specialist content, it is advisable to test this in open tasks in an examination, in an oral examination or a written paper.
- If it is to be ensured that students can work independently in scientific work at the end of their studies, they need the opportunity to practice this in their curriculum. Partial competences of scientific work (e.g. formulating a good question, forming hypotheses, doing some research, critically classifying an experimental result, finding a practical example for a lecture content, etc.) should be addressed in module examinations even before the final thesis.
The diversity of study programme objectives should also be reflected in a variety of examination forms. Different examination forms are appropriate for different learning contents.
In the engineering sciences, curricula are often structured in such a way that there are many exams with rather closed tasks in the introductory phase of studies and more open examination formats such as project work only later in the course of studies.
But also the reverse order can be useful! If the students start with freer project work already in the introductory phase of their studies, this can give them an early insight into the application of their course of study and increase their motivation for their studies – and also for learning challenging contexts.
Complex, realistic learning situations provide a good framework for practising personal skills such as problem-solving, communication and teamwork in the course of study. At the same time, specialist knowledge is acquired and applied. In methodological terms, this can be illustrated by problem and project-based learning, among other things. Through several coordinated problem-oriented learning scenarios, competencies are built up over a longer period of time.
Both formats are very demanding for students and teachers in terms of organisation and workload. A high degree of self-organisation is required for active engagement with the learning material, both individually and in the group. For many students it is a great challenge to coordinate in a group during the self-study period. If there are several problem-based tasks or projects to be worked on in one semester, there is a risk that the students feel that group work is a burden despite interesting questions. This should be considered at the programme level.
For study programmes with high student numbers, the scalability of such learning offers is an important issue. The central challenge here is to provide adequate care for a large number of groups. The classic approach to this problem is the use of student tutors who accompany the groups in their work processes. Since most of them have only recently gone through the same processes themselves, they can easily put themselves in the shoes of the working groups and tend to speak their own language.
The professional supervision of the working groups is provided by the teachers, e.g. by offering consultation hours or giving students feedback on their presentations of milestones.
As students build up their skills, the need for supervision of the work process generally decreases and other teaching aspects come to the fore. Thus the degree of complexity can increase – up to the independent design of a research or development project within a module or across several modules. In principle, interdisciplinary PBL units and projects are also attractive for students; here, close coordination with other courses of study within the framework of course development is crucial.
In order to coordinate the learning objectives in the degree programme, it is possible to consider transdisciplinary cognitive skills as well as subject-specific and interdisciplinary competences.
The reason for this is the observation that difficulties of understanding in one subject often follow multidisciplinary patterns. The reasons are probably basic concepts that are difficult to understand, i.e. mental structures that occur in a similar way in different subject areas.
Concrete examples of literature mostly come from the field of primary and secondary education. Mention is made, for example, of the importance of quotients in the definition of quantities such as densities or velocities as well as an understanding of the conservation of number, volume or mass. In (MI)NT study programmes, concepts appear which partly build on the previously mentioned concepts and extend or continue them. Multiple specific quantities (e.g. the distribution of an intensity over a wavelength spectrum) or the concept of continuity or mass conservation in flowing media seem to be so demanding that they also cause difficulties for students. This can be seen in various studies on qualitative understanding among students both in the context of fluid mechanics and electrical engineering.
How can a systematic development of the course of study help here? At the beginning, a survey of the cross-thematic subject concepts and competences in the existing courses of a study programme is necessary. From this, similar or even identical structures or mutual dependencies can be identified. In some cases, analogous mathematical representations of different technical contents can also provide indications of the existence of cross-thematic concepts.
To use these analogies productively, they must be made explicit. On the one hand, this includes determining the corresponding elements of the subject areas under consideration; on the other hand, it also involves considering the limits of the respective analogy, i.e. the aspects in which the two subject areas differ. In this way, common thought structures are used on the one hand, but improper transfers or generalisations are prevented on the other.
Would you like to promote certain interdisciplinary competences in your degree programme? Your students are not sufficiently prepared for the requirements in their final thesis? We support you in the elaboration and concepts for the development of competence lines .
LINKS and LITERATURE
Didaktische Studiengangentwicklung: Rahmenkonzepte und Praxisbeispiel
Peter Salden, Kathrin Fischer und Miriam Barnat. In: Pädagogische Hochschulentwicklung. Von der Programmatik zur Implementierung. Hgg. Taiga Brahm, Tobias Jenert und Dieter Euler. Wiesbaden 2016, S. 133-149.
Herausforderungen der Kompetenzorientierung in der Studienprogrammentwicklung
Taiga Brahm und Tobias Jenert. In: Zeitschrift für Hochschulentwicklung. Jahrgang 8. Ausgabe 1. (01/2013). Graz, S. 7-14.
Schub erzeugen: MINT-Studiengänge zukunftsorientiert weiterentwickeln
Schriften zur Didaktik in den Ingenieurwissenschaften Nr. 6, Zentrum für Lehre und Lernen (ZLL), Marisa Hammer & Nicole Podleschny (Hrsg). Technische Universität Hamburg (2019).