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Quality goals in studies and teaching

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preamble

At the meeting of the Faculty Council of the Faculty of Biology on January 18, 2018, the Vice Rector for Teaching presented a (preliminary) paper on the quality goals in study and teaching for the University of Freiburg. The faculty was asked to comment:

  1. Relevance: How important is this area for the faculty?
  2. Status Quo: What is the faculty doing in this area so far?
  3. Perspective: What is the faculty planning to do in this area in the future?

The following list contains the opinion of the Faculty of Biology, which was approved by the Faculty Council on April 19, 2018


LEARNING | As a research university, the University of Freiburg aims to provide its students with scientific, technical and personal skills that are also compatible with the national and international job market.

Relevance: How important is this area for us?


Status Quo: What are we doing in this area so far?

  • Strong research focus, already in modules in the first semesters
  • Students are trained to grasp complex problems independently and to analyze them clearly, to process them with adequate methods based on the current state of science and to solve them accordingly.
  • High proportion of practical training (laboratory and field internships, excursions, exercises) in the modules (at least 50%)
  • Students have the opportunity to take part in the iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition) competition. In this context, they work in a team and independently work on a "real" research project and present their results at an international conference.
  • Specific modules for the Master of Education with school-compatible interlinking of specialist science and specialist didactics have been developed and will be implemented from the winter semester.

Perspective: What do we plan to do in this area in the future?

  • Online preliminary courses or refresher courses before starting your studies, especially in mathematics, physics and chemistry.
  • Prior knowledge activation for individual modules during the course.

Relevance: How important is this area for us?


Status Quo: What are we doing in this area so far?>

  • "Good scientific practice" is already a topic in the basic module "Statistics, Philosophy of Science and Ethics" in the third semester; relatively early in my studies.
  • In the bachelor, teacher and master’s degree in biology, the scientific thesis is preceded by a so-called "project module" in which students plan their research project in terms of content and time, research the relevant literature and acquire in-depth knowledge of the methods to be used in theory and practice. As part of these project modules, students receive instruction in good scientific practice, in particular in the relevant recommendations of the DFG. The supervisors also serve as role models. Scientific honesty, scientific misconduct and problems in the scientific system are the subject of discussions and journal club presentations in the working groups.
  • In some working groups there are SOPs (standard operating procedures) for the preparation of protocols and laboratory notebook entries, which are made available to all laboratory members on the intranet (Wiki). In some cases, the wikis offer documents from the DFG, the Max Planck Society and other institutions on "best practice". Doctoral candidates can also turn to the ombudsperson as a contact person if they have any questions about academic honesty.

Perspective: What do we plan to do in this area in the future?

  • Continuous further development of the module "Statistics, Philosophy of Science and Ethics"
  • If necessary, conception or import of an (online) module on the subject of "Good Scientific Practice".
  • Suggestion for a new BOK course for the Center for Key Qualifications.
  • Formulation of a catalog of requirements for the above-mentioned project modules.

Relevance: How important is this area for us?


Status Quo: What are we doing in this area so far?

  • As such, biology is already in an interdisciplinary field in which scientists from a wide range of disciplines are active ((bio) chemists, physicists, mathematicians, engineers, biologists). Interdisciplinarity is therefore inherent in biology studies.
  • This is also reflected in the thematic breadth of the modules. In addition to the "biological" basic modules, students take modules in chemistry, mathematics and physics with a total of 42 ECTS points.
  • Networking with other faculties and research institutions: cooperation in teaching with UNR and medicine, MPI-IE, State Viticulture Institute)
  • As part of compulsory elective modules, students can choose modules from the entire range of courses at the university. The BOK offers of the ZfS are essential here.
  • Transdisciplinarity takes place e.g. in the focus "Applied Biosciences" in the master’s course
  • Through the cooperation with the University of Education, the students in the Master of Education get a new perspective on learning and teaching.
  • As part of the Master of Education, the coherence of specialist science, specialist didactics and educational sciences is promoted.

Perspective: What do we plan to do in this area in the future?

  • No specific measures are currently being planned.

Relevance: How important is this area for us?


Status Quo: What are we doing in this area so far?

During the course in biology, students are made familiar with the theoretical knowledge and practical skills that are necessary for a career as a biologist in the wide range of possible fields of work. In industry (especially in the pharmaceutical, crop protection and biotechnology sectors), biologists work in research and development, in sales and marketing, in controlling and in strategic fields. Biologists work in a wide variety of research areas at universities and in state and semi-state institutions. They are also required, for example, in environmental and nature conservation, in plant protection, in patent and documentation systems or by publishers. As teachers, they work in the education sector in schools. The application possibilities in a large number of very different fields of work mean that the biology course cannot be geared towards a fixed occupational profile, but must allow as much freedom as possible in the choice of specializations, specializations, possible key qualifications and elective modules.

These competencies are in detail:

Technical skills
  • Deepening knowledge in the life sciences
  • Deepening of methodological and analytical knowledge on an international level
  • Acquisition of knowledge of modern methods and concepts in life sciences and related areas
  • Ability to develop a self-contained scientific project with adequate methods
  • Developing the ability to use scientific material for one's own projects
  • Experience with work processes in research projects, at research institutions and large research facilities as well as in industry
Social skills
  • Ability to do independent, responsible and creative scientific work
  • Ability to organize, implement and manage complex projects
  • Decision-making ability in complex issues
  • Preparation for the ability to take on management responsibility
  • Acquisition of abstraction skills, systems analytical thinking, teamwork and communication skills
  • Experience in the international and intercultural area
  • Social sense of responsibility

In preparation for a job as a teacher, the excellent cooperation with the University of Education in the development and implementation of the Master of Education, under the leadership of Dr. Liefländer (teaching development, quality offensive teacher training) a profession-oriented teacher training.

Further characteristics of our courses contribute to the connectivity of our students:

  • High proportion of practical training (laboratory and field internships, excursions, exercises) in the modules (at least 50%)
  • The students improve their ability to work in a team by working in small groups in the practical exercises.
  • In the advanced modules in the 5th semester of the bachelor's degree programs, the examinations mainly consist of scientific elaborations (minutes) and seminar lectures, the two cornerstones of professional, scientific communication.
  • Commitment to the full university: Students can freely choose a certain part of the course from the entire range of courses at the university and thus design their individual study profile.

The following measures support our students in their professional orientation:

  • The curriculum provides for the recognition of professional internships as academic achievement within the framework of profile modules (B.Sc.) and elective modules (M.Sc.).
  • The student council organizes the annual event "B³ - Job Profiles for Biologists", at which biologists working in various fields present their careers and everyday work.
  • For example, we promote events of the Biotechnological Student Initiative (https://gs.bts-ev.de/freiburg/): With cooperation partners and representatives from business or academia, the BtS organizes various workshops, seminars and excursions for students and thus creates interfaces between industry and Students.
  • We advertise the offers of the Central Student Advisory Service for career orientation.
  • Students receive individual study and career advice in the study office.

Perspective: What do we plan to do in this area in the future?

  • No specific measures are currently being planned.

Relevance: How important is this area for us?


Status Quo: What are we doing in this area so far?

  • New forms of teaching / learning such as "flipped classroom" encourage concrete discussion and independent development of content in the phases of self-study. In the presence phases, critical thinking and acting are encouraged in discussions.
  • The high proportion of practical forms of learning - often carried out in teamwork - promotes problem-solving skills.
  • 1 to 1 communication between students and supervisors for theses; In their thesis, students work on current research questions for which the solution has not been determined beforehand.
  • Interactive lectures with live voting (ILIAS tool) and self-guided excursions encourage active engagement with scientific content.

Perspective: What do we plan to do in this area in the future?

  • if necessary, conception of a new, interdisciplinary profile or elective module on scientific and social topics

Relevance: How important is this area for us?


Status Quo: What are we doing in this area so far?

  • Expansion of participation in the framework of EUCOR - The European Campus (specialization in biotechnology, joint master's in neuroscience, bilingual variant in the M.Sc. Biochemistry and Biophysics)
  • Structured international mobility is organized through various programs (Erasmus program, RISE, promos, etc.)
  • In the case of individual mobility activities, students are supported by central and decentralized student advisory services as well as the IO with regard to financing.
  • Doctoral candidates: Mobility through involvement in joint programs (Erasmus-Mundus, Marie-Curie ITN) and international research projects, as well as contacts between the supervisors.
  • In the bachelor's degree programs, the 5th semester is ideal for one-semester stays abroad, as the students can keep longer time slots free by choosing the corresponding modules. Year-round stays abroad are only available after the end of the 5th semester.
  • Semesters abroad can be included in the M.Sc. Biology can be taken in the second or third semester without major problems.

Perspective: What do we plan to do in this area in the future?

  • No further specific measures are currently being planned.


TEACHING | Didactically high-quality teaching is ensured and explicitly promoted in order to enable students to acquire skills at the highest level. Research-oriented teaching is of particular importance.

Relevance: How important is this area for us?


Status Quo: What are we doing in this area so far?

  • Advice on didactic training is offered by the study office
  • Continuing education in university didactics is increasingly being used by younger teachers.
  • Participation in higher education didactic further training events are a condition for the habilitation

Perspective: What do we plan to do in this area in the future?

  • Incentives for higher education didactic further education of the lecturers by creating free space, especially in the administrative area, through personal support from central resources of the university
  • A cross-semester course "Information for Teachers" was created at ILIAS, with information material on studying. A subsection "Didactics Corner" is currently being created there, in which brief descriptions of didactic methods, ILIAS tools, videos on "Constructive Alignment", instructions for formulating learning objectives and other things are made available for lecturers. The course coordinator creates this section as part of Module III of the University Didactics Certificate Baden-Württemberg. This is intended to lower the hurdle for lecturers to get started with higher education didactic training.

Relevance: How important is this area for us?


Status Quo: What are we doing in this area so far?

Since biology is an extremely research-driven science, the close connection in all phases of the degree goes without saying.

  • The research closeness of the teaching is mainly ensured by the high proportion of practical exercises with integration into concrete research projects from research practice.
  • Students have the opportunity to take part in the iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition) competition. In this context, they work independently in a team on a "real" research project and present their results at an international conference.

Perspective: What do we plan to do in this area in the future?

  • No further specific measures are currently being planned.

Relevance: How important is this area for us?


Status Quo: What are we doing in this area so far?

The learning objectives are formulated according to the taxonomy according to Bloom (1973) and express what the students can (should) be able to do after completing the module. The forms of examination are geared towards these learning objectives. Therefore, the majority of the final module exams in the compulsory modules consist of written exams, which are composed of free-text questions, since an overarching learning goal of all courses is that students can correctly express scientific facts in their own words.


Perspective: What do we plan to do in this area in the future?

  • Implementation of "Constructive Alignment", which is a universal didactic concept in all courses / modules, e.g. through workshops for teachers and examples of successful "Constructive Alignment".

Relevance: How important is this area for us?


Status Quo: What are we doing in this area so far?

  • Increasing use of modern teaching formats: ILIAS is sometimes no longer only used as a "foil container", but also for activating prior knowledge and checking knowledge.
  • "Blended learning" and "flipped classroom" are being used more and more in the newly designed modules in the Master of Education.
  • Support for teachers who want to introduce digital teaching methods is offered by the study office.

Perspective: What do we plan to do in this area in the future?

  • Synchronization of initiatives to digitize teaching in the faculty with the university's digitization strategy
  • Creation of free space for teachers for higher education didactic training and the acquisition of digital skills, e.g. in the form of flexible teaching resources
  • Dissemination of experiences with modern teaching formats in the entire faculty through information events for teachers.
  • Examples of ILIAS tools in the "Didactics Corner" on ILIAS.
  • Freedom and incentives to use the research semester to attend didactic training courses and to design courses.


FRAME | The study conditions at the university are secured and further developed through the sustainable use of resources, central support and service orientation.

Relevance: How important is this area for us?


Status Quo: What are we doing in this area so far?

Biology is a living and future-shaping science with high technological, economic and social relevance; Therefore, the curriculum and the teaching content are continuously reviewed and adapted to current developments in research and society.


Perspective: What do we plan to do in this area in the future?

  • No further specific measures are currently being planned.

Relevance: How important is this area for us?


Status Quo: What are we doing in this area so far?

  • The drop-out rate in the undergraduate biology courses is moderate (mean values: B.Sc .: 15.8% after the 2nd semester; 23% after the 5th semester). Since the faculty has had an average of 120% new students since the end of the temporary increase (compared to the number of study places offered), the drop-out rate compensates for this overload.
  • Preliminary courses, supporting tutorials, online prior knowledge activation, individual knowledge acquisition before starting studies.
  • Compulsory exercises in basic science subjects to develop a semester-related learning strategy.
  • We are promoting the online tool "ELIS - Successful Learning During Your Studies".

Perspective: What do we plan to do in this area in the future?

  • Online material for refreshing knowledge before the individual modules (accompanying the course) is intended to support the maintenance of the knowledge acquired during the course.

Relevance: How important is this area for us?


Status Quo: What are we doing in this area so far?

  • First semester introductory week, organized by the student council
  • Regular information events by the academic advisory service on the next stage of study
  • Regular information emails on submission deadlines and exam registration deadlines.
  • Service portal "Information on studying" on ILIAS with information material, videos and FAQ forum on study organization.
  • Service-oriented examination office with short processing times and unbureaucratic examination administration.
  • Short distances and close interlinking of course counseling, course coordination and examination office (in one corridor).
  • Daily consultation hours for academic advisory services and Erasmus advisory services.
  • Daily office hours of the student council.
  • In the case of individual mobility activities, students are supported by central and decentralized student advisory services as well as the IO with regard to financing.
  • Doctoral candidates: Mobility through involvement in joint programs (Erasmus-Mundus, Marie-Curie ITN) and research contacts of the supervisors
  • The Module manuals can also be viewed online from outside the university and allow a detailed view of the course content, learning objectives and requirements of the individual modules.
  • The communication possibilities of the students are diverse. In addition to personal contact, the students have access to mailing lists, an online forum operated by the student council and a Facebook group. The ILIAS learning platform can be used for communication within individual courses and / or modules. A large number of modules are accompanied by voluntary tutorials that support the students in structuring the subject matter and in asking and discussing specific content. Often the students organize themselves in study groups that make studying a communal experience.
  • The student council organizes the annual event "B³ - job profiles for biologists", where biologists working in various fields present their careers and everyday professional life.

Perspective: What do we plan to do in this area in the future?

  • No further specific measures are currently being planned.

Relevance: How important is this area for us?


Status Quo: What are we doing in this area so far?

  • The zoological display collection, the botanical garden including greenhouses and outdoor test areas at the airfield serve as a teaching and learning location
  • Continuous reinvestment means that the course rooms are well-equipped.
  • The QSM transferred to the faculty's basic budget according to Perspective 2020 will continue to be used for teaching purposes by the study commission.
  • There is a group study room which is reserved exclusively for the use of the students.
  • Faculty's own libraries for specialist literature and textbooks provide the necessary literature and serve as a place of learning.
  • The study office takes on all organizational work (preparation of the course catalog while avoiding scheduling conflicts, exam planning, recording the fulfillment of individual teaching obligations, preparation and implementation of student evaluations, etc.) so that the teachers can use their time to prepare the course content and teaching objectives.

Perspective: What do we plan to do in this area in the future?

  • Many courses (especially in the undergraduate courses) are overbooked due to the overload (currently: 1.51; previous year: 1.7), which results in restrictions in the supervision ratio. The aim is therefore to adapt the number of new students to the intake capacity shown in the capacity calculation and / or to increase the number of teaching staff. The increasingly extensive teaching activities for doctoral students have not yet been taken into account.
  • No further expansion of the study places. Since 2012, a total of 80 additional study places have been created in several stages ("University 2012" and "Master 2016"), of which 60 are permanent and 20 are temporary (winter semester 2012/13 and winter semester 2013/14).
  • Compensation of deputation reductions, e.g. through teaching assignment funds (from central funds of the rectorate), since these cannot be used in reality due to the overload (e.g. members of the faculty board).
  • A higher quota for the digestion of intermediate construction positions should be made possible in order to be able to guarantee a balance between innovation and continuity of the courses.
  • In addition, central special funds are required for large investments that go beyond the possibilities of the QSM transferred to the basic budget of the faculty.


VALUES | When planning and implementing studies and teaching, the establishment and maintenance of equal opportunities, the appreciation of diversity, the promotion of internationalization and the pursuit of quality development are immanent goals.

Relevance: How important is this area for us?


Status Quo: What are we doing in this area so far?

  • Compensation for disadvantages for students with disabilities and chronic illnesses is regulated in the examination regulations in all courses.
  • In addition, for students with disabilities or chronic illnesses, flexible solutions are always sought for problems with types of courses (e.g. excursions).

Perspective: What do we plan to do in this area in the future?

  • The conception of barrier-free excursions for students with walking disabilities is planned.

Relevance: How important is this area for us?


Status Quo: What are we doing in this area so far?

  • International students and teachers are perceived as enrichment.

Perspective: What do we plan to do in this area in the future?

  • Greater internationalization through better and more English-language courses in the master’s degree programs.

Relevance: How important is this area for us?


Status Quo: What are we doing in this area so far?

  • Expansion of participation in the framework of EUCOR - The European Campus (specialization in biotechnology, joint master's in neuroscience, bilingual variant in the M.Sc. Biochemistry and Biophysics)
  • Structured international mobility is organized through various programs (Erasmus program, RISE, promos, etc.)
  • In the B.Sc. The 5th semester is ideal for stays abroad for one semester, as the students can keep longer time slots free by choosing the appropriate modules. Year-round stays abroad are only available after the end of the 5th semester.
  • Semesters abroad can be included in the M.Sc. Biology can be taken in the second or third semester without major problems.
  • International summer schools on emerging disciplines such as synthetic biology, bionics, plant biotechnology, immunobiology, neurosciences, proteome research, functional biodiversity research.
  • Master theses abroad are possible within the framework of international research collaborations.

Perspective: What do we plan to do in this area in the future?

  • The introduction of tuition fees for non-EU foreigners is a hindrance to internationalization.

Relevance: How important is this area for us?


Status Quo: What are we doing in this area so far?

  • Strong involvement of student representatives (student council) in the implementation of improvement measures and the design of new courses and teaching formats.
  • The faculty uses the following instruments for quality assurance in study and teaching:
  • annual teaching report, which is presented and discussed in the study committee and faculty council.
  • central organized student event and module evaluation (online via EvaSys).
  • Public evaluation reports (without free text answers; no personal data) on the website of the Faculty of Biology
  • Cyclical closed sessions of the study committee and those responsible for the module: strengths and weaknesses analysis of the module evaluations, measures taken and the effect of change measures.
  • General meetings of lecturers: Discussion of far-reaching changes to the study regulations or other teaching-related aspects, presentation of innovative teaching-learning-examination formats.
  • Accreditation: The B.Sc. Biology and M.Sc. Biology were accredited in 2014 and are approved until 2020. The polyvalent two-major subjects Bachelor's degree in Biology (with the option to become a high school teacher) and M.Sc. Neuroscience are accredited within the university after the system accreditation has been completed.

Perspective: What do we plan to do in this area in the future?

  • "The documentation of the quality cycles should be carried out in a more structured and goal-oriented manner. (" Monitoring "within the accreditation processes of the University of Freiburg)