Research-oriented Teaching at Freie Universität

Mitdenken lernen: Forschungskompetenzen zu erwerben, ist das Ziel Forschungsorientierter Lehre an der Freien Universität Berlin.
Learning to follow and anticipate a line of thinking: acquiring research competencies is the goal of research-oriented teaching at Freie Universität Berlin. Image Credit: Bernd Wannenmacher

Research-oriented teaching is a key element of the profile of Freie Universität Berlin, which is among Germany’s strongest universities in terms of research. As part of its institutional strategy, with which the university was successful in the German Excellence Initiative in 2007 and again in 2012, the research-oriented teaching program was established in order to give a systematic structure and approach to initiatives aimed at linking ressearch and teaching activities and to promote the ongoing and sustained integration of top research within large-scale alliance projects into teaching.

Universities are the most important sites of learning within society when it comes to acquisition of research competencies. They ensure that junior scholars and scientists have the training they need in research methods and that they are prepared for evidence-based expert professions.

Acquiring Research Competencies

Within the research-oriented teaching program, students have an opportunity to develop and process research questions in different teaching and learning formats, thereby acquiring research competencies on a targeted basis. A generic competence model consisting of research skills and content knowledge that transcends the cultures of individual disciplines supports the link between research and teaching, defines the goals of research-oriented teaching, and forms the basis for evaluating those goals.

Alongside targeted inclusion of junior scholars and scientists, research alliances and research institutions not affiliated with academia are also included in the research-oriented teaching program. The program is currently in the pilot phase, during which a range of experiences are being logged as research-oriented teaching is implemented. During this process, researchers can receive support in the form of training, skill building, and advising options.

Unity between Research and Teaching

The research-oriented teaching program also includes the central Teaching Award of Freie Universität, which is granted annually with a thematic emphasis. Viewing research and teaching as forming a single unit is part of how Freie Universität Berlin views its own identity. To the extent that research shapes distinct and often interdisciplinary organizational structures such as Focus Areas or collaborative research centers, the challenge of living up to this sense of identity grows. The research-oriented teaching program is geared toward putting this challenge to productive use.