W32 – “richtig einsteigen.” – Engaging faculty and central units in creating an integrated first year programme

Room E – TUESDAY 16:15-17:15

Workshop – 60 minutes

Juana Salas Poblete

Meike Vogel

Bielefeld University, Centre for Teaching and Learning

Juana Salas Poblete studied conference interpreting at Heidelberg University and linguistics, texttechnology and German as a foreign language at Bielefeld University, where she also obtained her PhD in linguistics. In 2012 she joined Bielefeld’s first year programme, concentrating on peer learning before transferring to the executive head office.

Prior to joining the CTL at Bielefeld University, Mei

3ke Vogel served in different positions in higher education management.  She studied history and mathematics in Bielefeld and Paris and holds a PhD in history.  Since 2012, she is the executive manager of the first year programme “richtig einsteigen.” at Bielefeld University.


Bielefeld University has been introducing a first year programme involving stakeholders at all levels by bringing together faculty members of different departments and representatives of various central units creating interdisciplinary teams that design and test innovative teaching concepts for introductory courses that are part of the set curriculum.


Bielefeld University was founded in 1969 as one of Germany’s reform universities. Nowadays, it has over 20000 students and is renowned for its interdisciplinary approach to teaching and research. The university received an amount € 12 million to implement a broad first year programme in the context of the nationwide Quality Pact for Teaching initiated by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).  This programme called “richtig einsteigen.” (“get started”) has a duration of five years (extendable for another four years).

It is against this background that we are reforming our first year to help new students to get started by offering fast and high quality orientation in the different subject areas as well as carefully designed introductory courses. We pursue these changes mainly by applying writing intensive teaching and supporting mathematical skills, e.g. through e-learning or collaborative learning. The programme is coordinated by a steering committee and an executive head office in order to allow the development of overall strategic objectives and an active interchange between the different departments.

Sustainable change can only be achieved with the active support of the departments and their willingness to reform their teaching approach. In order to create a reliable base for this university-wide cooperation, the programme provides all 13 departments with one or two faculty members who teach the respective subjects but are also committed to didactics. They maintain a constant interchange with their counterparts in the other departments. So, “richtig einsteigen.” does include two interdisciplinary teams comprised of nine members each, who meet regularly to exchange their experiences in enhancing literary and mathematical skills within regular lessons. They are also encouraged to share their experiences with their faculty colleagues to incite them to contribute to reforming university teaching.

To provide a competent coordination of the two interdisciplinary teams their meetings and cooperation is facilitated by members of central units: the literary skills team is coordinated by two members of the CTL’s writing centre and the mathematical skills team is supported by two members of the Institute for Didactics in Mathematics, thereby ensuring the personnel’s access to didactic expertise.

While this structure is admittedly quite complex, first evaluation results provided by an external institute for higher education development show that the outcome is worth the effort: The programme is well known in the university, the personnel is accepted and their expertise has been requested by many colleagues searching to revise their course design. After three years all departments are participating in a lively communication about the basic skills students need for a successful start in each discipline. We aim to include these insights in the curriculum development.

The range of measures offered by “richtig einsteigen.” is complemented by teams offering counseling, peer learning activities, training programmes for faculty members and an internal evaluation based on an annual student survey.

We invite you to discuss chances and challenges of bringing together faculty members of different departments within a centrally coordinated programme pursuing the aim to develop and change university teaching.


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