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Research-oriented Teaching at Freie Universität

Research-oriented teaching is a firm part of how Freie Universität Berlin views its own identity. Numerous initiatives aimed at linking research and teaching shape the culture of learning at the various departments. To make these links more systematic and ensure sustained integration of top research into teaching activities, Freie Universität Berlin developed the research-oriented teaching program as part of its institutional strategy. The program includes not only research alliances but also targeted inclusion of junior scholars and scientists, as well as cooperation with research institutions not affiliated with academia in studying and teaching activities.

Research Competencies in the Knowledge Society

Research competencies are one of the crucial prerequisites when it comes to identifying and working on problems in a complex knowledge society. Universities make a genuine contribution to imparting and honing these skills and knowledge required for carrying out research. This is true of both providing junior scholars and scientists with the training they need in research methods and of educating people for evidence-based expert professions.

There are a number of factors that are crucial not only to generating systematically reviewed knowledge, but also to ensuring that this knowledge is applied capably across different fields of practice:

  • Researching current research findings on a targeted basis and evaluating them with an eye to validity, with criteria serving as guidance
  • Systematically identifying gaps in the existing findings and follow-up questions
  • Communicating and discussing scholarly and scientific findings on a capable basis
  • Reflecting on scholarly and scientific findings with an eye to their practical relevance and ethical scope

Goals of Research-oriented Teaching

Universities are the most important sites of learning within society when it comes to acquisition of research competencies. Not only do their institutes and working groups represent the most current research-based knowledge in their specific fields, but universities, especially those with strong research performance, are also able to create particular learning opportunities for students as part of their research activities. In their role as scholarly and scientific communities of practice, they also represent a socialization environment for acquisition of habits and mindsets geared toward research.

Freie Universität Berlin views itself as being equally committed to all three aspects:

  1. The basis for research competencies is acquisition of scholarly and scientific knowledge, meaning both the theoretical foundations and the most current findings from scholarly and scientific research in a given field at a particular time.
  2. Acquisition of research competencies is supported by creating opportunities for people to develop and work on their own research questions in groups.
  3. The goal is to develop habits and mindsets geared toward research and founded on the guiding convictions of scientific and scholarly truth, curiosity, and criticism.

Research-oriented Teaching Formats

To facilitate the links between top research and teaching activities, Freie Universität Berlin emphasizes four teaching and learning formats in particular:

  • Teaching research projects or research workshops connected with ongoing (alliance) research projects
  • Research internships supervised by junior scholars and scientists from the (alliance) projects
  • Research colloquia and event series in which students present the results of their own research in the form of either oral presentations or posters
  • Lecture series in which alliance projects present current research findings

 Measures to Promote Research-oriented Teaching

  • Formats of research-oriented teaching will be integrated into the study and examination regulations for individual disciplines where this has not already taken place.
  • Two pilot projects are currently examining and evaluating the integration of top research into teaching activities.
  • International and interdisciplinary offerings related to research-oriented teaching are receiving targeted support.
  • A teaching award for development of innovative concepts in research-oriented teaching has been announced annually since 2013.
  • Specific training offerings for research-oriented teaching are being developed for junior scholars and scientists in particular.
  • Within the scope of its survey of students in master’s degree programs, Freie Universität Berlin regularly evaluates the options it offers in the area of research-oriented teaching.
  • A questionnaire to assess students’ research competencies is being developed based on a competence model that distinguishes among four research skills and a dimension of content knowledge.