Promote and integrate self-study


How do I get my students to be continuous learners?

How do I combine self-study and attendance time?

Motivating students to learn continuously outside of face-to-face sessions is a challenge, even in small classes. This becomes even more acute in large events: For the students, the chance of being able to present themselves and their knowledge to the instructors decreases, or the risk of being discovered as “non-learners” decreases as well.

Basically, self-study appears to be a great unknown, of which instructors get little notice. However, an interesting insight into student self-study in Bachelor’s and Master’s programs is provided by one of the most high-profile higher education didactic studies of recent years, the ZEITlast study (R. Schulmeister/C. Metzger). As part of the study, students documented how they used their time every day for a semester. Three results should be highlighted here:

  • The time spent on self-study varied extremely among students in the same program – some engineering students studied as little as 6 hours per week, while others studied up to 30 hours.
  • The way of learning differs just as much – some students read most of the time, others mainly calculate tasks, still others look for exchange in working groups.
  • Learning is mainly done before the exam.
  • It would seem desirable to encourage as many students as possible to engage in independent study while at the same time spreading it out better over the semester. This possibility certainly exists: through the design of their own course, teachers can influence the timing and scope of self-study.

This can also be implemented in large events. To do this, it is first necessary to think about self-study from the outset in one’s own course planning and then to give students precise instructions on what they should do between sessions – e.g., which text they should read or that they should calculate certain tasks. It is then important not to leave students alone with their self-study. A simple solution is, for example, to be approachable for questions yourself within the framework of a Stud.IP forum or to motivate students to answer each other’s questions (online platform).

Ultimately, however, it is crucial to integrate the students’ self-study (e.g. JiTT) back into their own course. Only then do students realize that their work is bringing them something. It is not even necessary for a single student to be interviewed, to calculate or to present something. A positive effect on motivation and attention can be achieved by recording questions that have arisen during self-study, e.g. in the forum – for example in a small time slot reserved for this purpose at the beginning or end of the course.

Credit points (ECTS)
Credit points (LP) according to the European Credit Point System (ECTS) express how much time a student should spend on a course in the semester in total. 1 LP corresponds to 30 hours at TUHH, i.e. 120 hours should be spent on a lecture with exercise and a total of 4 LP. If one deducts 14 courses of 135 minutes each (2 VL + 1 Ü) and an examination of 120 minutes, 86.5 hours of self-study should be completed for the seminar. Self-study time calculated according to this pattern should be considered and incorporated when planning an event.
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