Professor:inside program

The next event in the Profesor:innen program will be held on 8. February 2022 (digital) on the topic "University teaching under uncertainty – experiences and strategies" take place.
Registration is required until 01.02.2022 possible.

Professor:inside program

Photo: UHH/ Denstorf

University didactic program for professors
Science didactics in conversation

WISSENSCHAFTSDIDAKTIK IM GESPRaCH is a program at the Hamburg Center for University Teaching and Learning (HUL) that offers professors at the University of Hamburg a forum for discussing fundamental questions about university teaching – beyond didactic practical tips, quick solutions to problems and so-called good or best practices. The design of the forum (with internal impulses, external guests, etc.) is of great importance.) is variable in each case, but the purpose remains the same: The focus is not on current topics, but on fundamental questions about teaching and science. Responsible for and implementing the Professor:in program is Prof. Dr. Gabi Reinmann. It takes place at least once a semester – as a face-to-face event or as a video conference if required.

Background: Science didactics

Teaching one’s own subject, and consequently designing and reflecting on university teaching, is one of the tasks of academics at universities, in addition to research. Many of them enjoy teaching and are committed to it, but sometimes there are also unfavorable attitudes towards teaching, just as there are unfavorable teaching conditions. Probably one of the biggest problems is that research and teaching are experienced as unrelated and compete with each other for time and prestige.

The fact that the "teaching" of a specialized science is part of the science itself and can stimulate reflection and questioning of its foundations – be it in terms of the ethics of science, be it in terms of methodology, be it in terms of society as a whole – is rarely taken into consideration. In one of his last texts, the renowned university didactician Ludwig Huber*, who died in 2019, recalled an approach to university didactics that was introduced in the 1960s under the name of science didactics and then unfortunately fell into oblivion. Science didactics namely starts exactly where the problems are greatest today: at the linking of research and teaching and at the "mediation of science as its own genuine principle" (Huber, 2018, p. 38).

Especially among professors at universities, didactics of higher education is not infrequently suspected of an inappropriate pedagogization – today as 60 years ago, when didactics of higher education experienced an upswing: fears are raised of a trivialization of the subject and an infantilization of students. The impression is created that higher education didactics is primarily instrumentalized to increase efficiency or for other non-academic purposes. Finally, although empirically refuted, there is still hope that effective teaching will largely emerge on its own from scholarship and sophisticated research. With his concept of a didactics of science, Hartmut von Hentig** in the 1960s confronted all three of these obstacles to approach teaching with the same scientific seriousness as research.

His argumentation is: science differs from other forms of cognition in that it discloses how a cognition has come about. By being verifiable and comprehensible, science achieves objectivity: not in the sense that an objective truth results, but in the sense that objectified (verifiable, comprehensible) knowledge becomes possible. By intending intersubjectivity, science boils down to communication. That is, "cognition becomes science by communication" (von Hentig, 1970, pp. 26).

Science didactics consists of critically reflecting on science itself in connection with its communication, and of understanding the interactions between cognition and communication or. between research and teaching or research and public communication (expert-layman-communication) to be perceived and designed. Seen in this light, "science didactics does not mean the introduction of an entirely new task, but rather that everyone is finally doing what is their duty anyway" (von Hentig, 1970, p. 40).

* Huber, L. (2018). Thinking ahead SoTL! On the situation and development of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) at German universities. Higher Education, 1+2, 33-41.
** von Hentig, H. (1970). Science Didactics. In H. von Hentig, L. Huber& W. Muller (Eds.), science didactics. 5. Special issue of the New Collection, 13-40.

The "SCIENTIFIC DISCUSSION" program

If a didactic reflection on teaching understood in this way would give reason to

  • To thematize what is otherwise not thematized?
  • To structure what has hitherto been unstructured or unreflective?
  • reflecting on latent or even "concealed" questions of meaning and values?

WISSENSCHAFTSDIDAKTIK IM GESPRaCH is a program that offers professors at the University of Hamburg a forum for the discussion of fundamental questions about university teaching – beyond didactic practical tips, quick solutions to problems and so-called good or best practices. The design of the forum (with internal impulses, external guests, etc.).) is variable in each case, but the purpose remains the same: the focus is not on current topics, but on fundamental questions about teaching and science.

In terms of teaching, one might ask:

  • What effect does it have on science when it first manifests itself in communication?? Do teaching and other communication situations affect science itself?
  • How, if at all, does a discipline’s research really (come) forward in its teaching? Do experiences from teaching somehow have an effect on research??
  • What is the relationship between the structures of disciplinary research and subject systematics in teaching?? How did both of these come about, justified, and would they be changeable?
  • What else can "education through science" mean in today’s teaching environment? How does science-based teaching change in content with the postulate for professional practice relevance?

With respect to academia as the context and subject of teaching would need to be discussed:

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