Working together on teaching and learning at Bielefeld University
The Living Document for working together on teaching and learning at Bielefeld University was developed by students and university teachers from all the faculties at Bielefeld University. Via the deans of studies and the departmental student representative committees, the vice-rector for studies and teaching extended an invitation to participate in the broad discussion process. This process started in April 2018 and took place over several meetings involving discussion and joint work on the text. In 2020, the document was extended to include special requirements related to online teaching during the pandemic.
The students, university teachers and rectorate involved agree on the reliance of the document on its continuous further development. Therefore, it should be discussed on an ongoing basis. We wish for broad engagement with the herein formulated expectations for teaching and courses in particular.
Studying at Bielefeld University provides opportunities for many areas, such as personal growth, engaging with interesting course contents and qualifying for professional fields. Additionally, studying at Bielefeld University offers a lot of freedom, which in turn can be quite demanding and requires persistence.
As teachers at Bielefeld University, we aim to create an environment in which all students, their interests and contributions are being taken seriously. We want students to be involved with curiosity and for them to develop a deeper interest in their fields of study, which go beyond the immediate requirements of their courses and examinations. This also requires students’ willingness to get involved with subject matters that at first may seem somewhat difficult or unattractive.
Accordingly, students at Bielefeld University carry responsibility for their own learning. Furthermore, individual participation and cooperation during courses should be taken seriously by students. Teachers and students are joined in their responsibility for the quality of teaching and learning, as teaching at Bielefeld University is considered to be a shared responsibility of all involved participants.
As university teachers, it is our wish to maintain a professional and mutually respectful exchange with our students.
Even more than in-person courses, online courses rely heavily on the active participation of its attendees. The changed spatial and communicative conditions complicate the exchange of nonverbal communication. Due to this, online communication depends on teachers and students alike to make the conscious decision to experiment with the given course formats. This requires courage and openness. If participants remain passive or inactive in online settings, teaching and learning cannot succeed.
In summary, teachers would like students to participate actively in video-based courses through showing themselves, asking questions and taking part in discussions. For video-based courses, students’ mimic, verbal and written forms of feedback (e.g. via the chat function) help to improve the quality of teaching and learning and are therefore highly encouraged.
We, the students at Bielefeld University, have a fundamental interest in actively participating in courses. We expect teachers to take us seriously as students and to treat us with respect. This includes teachers being motivated to impart knowledge and for them to treat students’ contributions with appreciation. Teaching and research are equally important, and teachers should aim to include research in their teaching. Teachers should regard the needs and interests of students when planning their teaching at Bielefeld University.
Students expect all teaching staff (teaching assistants, tutors, lecturers, professors) to reflect on their didactic methods, to further develop their teaching through regular trainings and workshops and to expand their didactic capabilities. Teachers should be able to put together all course types that fall within their area of responsibility. Lectures, seminars and tutorials should be aligned with each other fittingly. Teachers (as well as students) should be familiar with respective module handbooks and the legal and organizational frameworks of their courses.
As students, we wish for a professional exchange with our teachers in a mutually respectful manner.
In the online semester, contact between teachers and students should generally be promoted in order to also enable communication outside of courses.
We greatly appreciate the effort many teachers at Bielefeld University put into their courses.
We would like to emphasize that the general situation of many students is currently under additional strain, mainly due to financial and other difficulties.