Good teaching practice: fundamental principles

The Bologna Process brought about a paradigm shift from input-driven, teacher-centred instruction to learning-outcome-focused, student-centred teaching. In line with this shift in teaching and learning, University of Applied Sciences BFI Vienna (UAS BFI Vienna) formulated four fundamental principles of good teaching practice.

A focus on learning outcomes

The fundamental question at the beginning of the course design process should no longer be “What content do we want to teach?” but rather “Precisely what skills and competencies do we want our students to develop?”

Answering this new question requires the formulation of meaningful learning outcomes which define the knowledge, skills and competencies that students should acquire in practical terms, i.e. what they will enable students to do.

Formulating learning outcomes in this way determines how lecturers and students proceed through a course:

  • Lecturers provide students with precise details of the intended learning outcomes.
  • During the course, lecturers and students critically reflect on the achievement of learning outcomes, which are then assessed using suitable methods at the end of the course.
  • This lays the foundations for self-directed learning because from the outset students can consider how they would like to structure their individual learning process.

A focus on competencies

Competency-based teaching shifts the focus onto linking the acquisition of knowledge with practical application. The goal is to develop professional skills and competencies which are based on strong academic foundations, and promote the knowledge-based application of these skills and competencies.

Competency-based teaching requires learning environments in which students can experiment with and apply knowledge and skills individually or as part of a team. Well-designed learning environments combine challenging but achievable tasks with realistic scenarios and problems.

Competency-based teaching also involves outlining the various dimensions of competencies. An important aspect of our approach at UAS BFI Vienna is distinguishing between professional, methods-based and social competencies.

Student-centred teaching

Lecturers support students’ self-directed learning and encourage them to take responsibility for their learning by selecting appropriate teaching methods, tasks and learning environments.

Student-centred learning has the following characteristics:

  • Focus on active rather than passive learning
  • Emphasis on critical, analytical thinking and independent learning
  • Students assume personal responsibility for learning processes and achieving learning outcomes
  • A higher degree of critical reflection on teaching and learning processes by students and lecturers

For lecturers, student-centred teaching means a departure from traditional, one-way forms of imparting knowledge in favour of teaching approaches which foreground the independent development of knowledge and skills. An important task of the lecturer therefore becomes challenging and encouraging students to learn independently. Lecturers provide a motivating framework for their students by defining appropriate learning outcomes, and selecting suitable input, tasks, case studies, study materials and teaching techniques.

Self-regulated and self-directed learning

At UAS BFI Vienna we help our students to improve the way they learn by developing their independent study skills. The university does not view students as passive recipients of knowledge, but as partners who assume responsibility for the progress they make during the learning process and play an active role in shaping teaching and learning processes.

Teaching which encompasses self-directed learning means the role of the lecturer changes significantly:

  • Lecturers provide their students with more support during planning, implementing and evaluating learning processes.
  • Lecturers describe and explain learning strategies and critically reflect on them with their students.
  • Lecturers manage teaching and learning processes by communicating objectives, roles and responsibilities, and also monitore this process.
  • Lectures give students feedback on their use of learning strategies and achievement of learning outcomes.