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Projekt Work: Turning Teaching into Research

Brief description

You can use this exercise in your teaching and between sessions to help the students feel like (and perceive themselves as) researchers who have something relevant to contribute in a real social context. The exercise creates a link between theory and practice since the students carry out their academic projects in a real context, experiencing an almost authentic design process. The students are involved in several different research activities such as fieldwork, design projects and conference contributions, resulting in potentially proactive students. The exercise continues throughout an entire semester.

Motivation for the exercise and required outcome

The purpose of the exercise is to help students to place their academic projects in a real context by going through a design process connected to a real issue in a genuine context. The exercise helps students to discover that their projects can contribute actual research to a real context. The students also become proactive and independent with regard to their own learning process.

Performing the exercise

  • At the start of the semester you should give the students a challenge which takes place within a selected context – in the classroom, at a library, at a museum or elsewhere.
  • The students work in their study groups, which have to be established if this has not been done already.
  • The groups must decide on and present their vision for the project.  
  • During the semester, the students must examine their field and then design something which addresses the challenge they have been set. The design must be produced in accordance with the vision of the group.
  • The students must submit their designs and studies at regular intervals in the form of various assignments. For instance, this might involve submitting monthly assignments, each of which focuses on moving the group’s design process along.
  • It is important that you give the students an overview of the submission dates and content of the assignments from the outset.
  • Teachers should present the students with compulsory literature and theory to inspire and help them to navigate the field of research in which the course is located. But the students must also make their own course plan including literature and theory to suit their project (with your help and guidance if necessary).
  • When the students have to write their exam assignments at the end of the semester, they can draw on the extensive collection of shared empirical, analytical and theoretical material of research quality which they have created throughout the semester and in extension of the regular assignments. 

Useful tips:

  • Think about whether the students should work on and submit their presentations during the semester on an open forum so their fellow students (and others) can see them and comment on them. This can be done on a blog or on Google Drive, for instance.
  • Think about whether you want to include an international perspective, with the students working in an international context. This approach requires you to help them by finding relevant contacts and cases in advance.