Corinna Geppert:

International examples of innovative university concepts (IBIS)

The research project was carried out in September/October 2021. It was commissioned by the BMBWF and aimed at supporting the concept group in the development of the new Technical University of Upper Austria. Innovative approaches and solutions from universities and other (tertiary) educational institutions were researched, described and divided into three areas: (1) Design of Teaching, (2) Design of Curricula and (3) Student Admission/Student Recruiting. Some of these approaches will be presented and common themes that emerged from the research will be discussed.

Project members: Attila Pausits, Franziska Lessky, David F.J. Campbell, Corinna Geppert


Christina Ipser, Gregor Radinger, Filiz Keser Aschenberger, Sonja Brachtl:

Learner Experiences in Learning Space in Continuing Education

The number of students participating in academic continuing education programmes has steadily increased over recent years. However, currently, little is known about the experiences and learning conditions of adult students. This study examines students’ experiences of physical learning environments on an academic continuing education university campus. To gain a comprehensive insight, an interdisciplinary approach combining the fields of architecture, education, and psychology was chosen.  In a case study, we used a mix of qualitative and quantitative data-collection methods including a questionnaire, a semantic differential scale, walking interviews and facilitated focus groups, as well as technical measurements and photo protocols. Our results demonstrate that spatial characteristics such as acoustics, air quality, visual comfort, furniture and equipment, plants and greenspaces were essential factors in creating a conducive learning environment. Furthermore, students specified a strong need for appropriate spaces for collaborative work and individual and informal exchanges on campus. Noise disturbance and the lack of favourable design features were the most frequently mentioned characteristics perceived negatively. Our findings indicate that the design of informal learning spaces on campus that align with appropriate learning activities based on students’ experiences and expectations is crucial for continuing education students.


Filiz Keser Aschenberger, Christina Ipser, Sonja Brachtl, Gregor Radinger, Stefan Oppl:

Physical Home Learning Environments for Digitally Supported Learning in Academic Continuing Education during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, digital technologies for distance learning have been used in educational institutions worldwide, raising issues of social implications, technological development and teaching and learning strategies. While disparities regarding access to technical equipment and the internet (‘the digital divide’) have been the subject of previous research, the physical learning environment of learners participating in online learning activities has hardly been investigated. This study examined the physical-spatial conditions of learning environments including technical equipment for distance learning activities and their influence on adult learners in academic continuing education during initial COVID-19 restrictions. Data were collected with an online survey sent to all students enrolled in an Austrian continuing education university and a small number of semi-structured interviews. A total of 257 students participated in the survey during the 2020 summer semester. Our findings provide insights on two under-researched areas in learning-environment research: the physical learning environment for online learning and the learning environment in academic continuing education. The study illustrates that students in academic continuing education have spacious living conditions and almost all the equipment necessary for digitally supported learning. According to gender and household structure, significant differences were found regarding technical equipment, ergonomic furniture, and availability of a dedicated learning place. In their learning sessions during the restrictions, the students reported low stress levels and positive well-being. The more they perceived that their physical learning environment was meeting their needs, the higher their motivation and well-being were, and the lower their stress was. Their learning experience was further improved by the extent to which they had a separate and fixed learning place that did not need to be coordinated or shared with others. The study contributes to the literature on creating conducive learning environments for digitally supported online learning for adult learners.


Corinna Geppert:

Results of several studies on the situation of Pedagogical Universities in Austria - The Long Way from a Teacher Training Centre to a Research Centre:

At university colleges for teacher education in Austria, research has been anchored via The Higher Education Act of 2005, which led to a profound change and reorientation: Institutions that had not conducted any research up to this point have been transformed into “research-active universities” (Kastelliz & Hopbach, 2018, p. 10). Especially in the first few years following The Higher Education Act, the problem arose that research competence could not be expected per se from members of these institutions and that it was hardly possible to build it up alongside full-time teaching.

Against this background this presentation aims to answer the following research questions, drawing von APIKS (The Academic Profession in the Knowledge-Based Society) Austria data: How does academic staff perceive research activities at university colleges for teacher education in Austria?

Marlene Wagner, Tobias Ley:

Digital competence of Austrian teacher educators - initial results of a mixed method study

The project focuses on two systemic obstacles for the implementation of Austria’s ambitious reform agenda for the digital transformation of the education system. Firstly, there is currently no systematic, curriculum-based approach to ensure that teacher educators at Austrian university colleges of teacher education have the necessary skills to effectively develop teachers' digital competences. Secondly, the current delivery model for free and quality approved educational media for Austrian schools is based on print products (textbooks) and does not sufficiently integrate digital education media products. Emergency online schooling during the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to urgently address these shortcomings. Based on an analysis of the status quo in Austria and good practices from other EU Member States, this project sets out to develop and pilot a proposal for a digital upskilling curriculum for teacher educators. It also aims to make recommendations for its adoption and roll-out across the country. Regarding the provision of educational media, a revised delivery model and a roadmap for its implementation are being developed. By the end of the project, it is expected that the Austrian authorities will have a tried and tested a set of tools to support the digital upskilling of teacher educators. The project is also expected to provide them with a validated proposal for a revised delivery model for educational media and a concept for its implementation. They will also present a clear roadmap with proposals for the implementation and communication of these two key areas on the reform agenda for the digital transformation of the education system.  
The talk presents emerging results from a study on digital competence of teacher educators at Austrian university colleges of teacher education. 


Tobias Ley & Gerti Pishtari:

Towards a partnership of teachers and intelligent learning technology: the role of model-based learning analytics

Adaptive learning technology has been around for decades and its use in classrooms around the world is growing steadily. However, it is often targeted solely at learners and lacks a focus on teachers. Recent advances in Learning Analytics dashboards have tried to change this by making educational data available to teachers, but these very often have not provided actionable or useful information to teachers. We advance the idea of Model-based Learning Analytics, an approach that uses pedagogical-psychological models and makes them transparent to teachers. We present a systematic literature review that uncovers some of the potential opportunities in Model-based LA and some future research directions. With increasing use of AI in the classroom, model-based LA is a way to realize a close coupling of humans and intelligent technology in the age of smart services in education.


Magdalena Fellner:

The ability to study as a collective construct. Facilitating and inhibiting conditions in continuing higher education

This study aims to explore the conditions of the construct on the "ability to study". To reconstruct the changeability of the ability to study and the accompanying mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion, a historical outline is first given in the theoretical part of the study, dating back to the beginnings of higher education history. This is followed by a description of the paradigm shift in the 20th century in the course of the Bologna Process and the accompanying expansion of education. Finally, the current social structure is analysed including the institutional conditions that favour or hinder the possibilities to take up or complete a study programme.  

In the empirical part, the subjectively perceived ability of students to act will be examined. For this purpose, problem-centred interviews with narrative elements were conducted with prospective students and students who have been admitted to the Master's programme via the so-called “equivalence assessment”. As a further level, interviews with course leaders were included to find out how they assess the study ability of students with qualifications to be held equal, taking into account the institutional forms of support and expectations.

In bringing the two parts together, which is carried out within the framework of Grounded Theory Methodology, the question arises as to how the subjectively perceived ability to study is compatible with socio-theoretical structures. Behind this lies the assumption that the scope of action is not only influenced by the perception of the individual, but significantly by the respective historical-political, socio-economic and cultural living conditions of the narrators. Thus, a nuanced representation of the construct "study ability" will be given.

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