Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: Chapter 3


Tremp, P. and Eugster, B. (2019) ‘Lehr- und Lernfreiheit’, in Hochschulbildungsforschung. Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden, pp. 41–56. doi: 10.1007/978-3-658-20309-2_4

The quote below defines Higher Education Didaktik as the undertaking which concerns itself with the shaping of teaching and learning in higher education institutions. The chapter tries to explore the junction between Higher Education Didaktik and SoTL. The authors explore theoretical and philosophical positioning of both and how they relate to one another. This chapter was one of the most challenging to summarise. I liked some of the statements from the chapter which I listed as almost independent provocations to think about.

Hochschuldidaktik: ist das Unternehmen, welches sich mit der Gestaltung von Lehre und Studium an der Hochschule beschäftigt.

Tremp & Eugster, 2019, p.41

close up of an old book laying opened in the middle on the wooden table a red fabric thread seems to be the bookmark the end of which hangs our of the book facing the viewer of the image
Photo by Wendy van Zyl on

Critique on SoTL and HE Didaktik

The authors have a couple of points of critique emerging early on in this chapter. One of the points was that higher education Didaktik neglects to focus on central structural elements such as freedom of learning and teaching (Lehr- und Lernfreiheit). They are also sceptical that SoTL predominantly focuses on research approaches from educational research, more specifically they challenge that SoTL is too often based on psychological principles and thus relates too strongly on exploration based on previous educational system e.i. schools. The authors state that this has the effect of perceptually turning students into pupils and Science and Scholarship into school-material.

The authors make a strong plea for SoTL to focus on wider aspects of higher education learning and teaching such as freedom of teaching and learning (Lehr-und Lernfreiheit). Which is, like academic freedom, akin to the Hippocratic Oat, a core value of higher education. (Tremp & Eugster, 2019, p.43) The authors continue to reflect on academic freedom as a privilege and requirement.

Would academic freedom not be an external concession, there would be no stability in scientific and scholarly knowledge as self-referential Order of Knowledge (recognising that the dependency on e.g. cultural and societal granting of academic freedom constitutes a paradoxical positioning of scientific and scholarly knowledge).

(Tremp & Eugster, 2019, p.43)


The following are some quotes which I cherish as thought provoking items (Denkanstöße) and provocation.

In Higher Education Didaktik and Educational Research (Bildungsforschung) freedom to teach and learn have to be axiomatic for the creation of knowledge and knowledge critique (Vermittlung of Wissen and Wissenskritik) (p.43) 
Learning is as natural (selbstverständlich) as it is challenging for higher education, as institutionalised learning always has to do with disciplining. Learning happens at behest and is measured based on how correct results and products are. (p.48) 
The educational place University—and so higher education Didaktik—don’t just have to encourage learning and critical thinking, but also the development of concepts that enable the students to develop the ability to learn and the ability to critic the learning, and therefore freedom to learn is necessary. (p.48)
Freedom without the inert ability to abuse this freedom is not freedom, within the HE context this for instance is countered by exam (assessment) practices. (p.48) 
The authors highly criticise forschendes Lernen (student research) as a prominent and pedagogically (hochschuldidaktisch) highly effective form of imitating school-education (Verschulung der Wissenskritik) under the communization of research. (p.51)
The critical learning and development of scientific and scholarly knowledge is not possible without academic freedom. (p.52)

Summary of this Chapter

The authors ask for more critical thinking and metacognition as necessary in higher education. From my Scottish HE perspective working as senior academic developer, and while I agree that there can always be more critical thinking and metacognition, it seems the situation here is not quite as dire as the authors suggest.

Researching Higher Education Didaktik (part of SoTL) considers the reconstructed exposure of connections (relationships) that make the influence of the canon of knowledge within learning and teaching processes visible.

The search for the deep structure – i.e. the lines of meaning — the freedom of teaching and learning and their necessity in the academic framework is thus also a paradigmatic attempt to understand university didactics historically and in its systematic positioning within the institution of “science”. (p.52

Scientific knowledge is described here as a self-referential system which only has itself to criticize itself: “Scientific knowledge asserts and identifies itself by questioning itself. It can only create content because the methods are more important to it than the content … [When it] [sic] (re) presents content, it always refers to the methods with which this content was constructed and with which it is also discarded can. Theoretically it refers to itself as the canon of knowledge and at the same time beyond itself in the canon criticism. This dialectical reference to oneself is a reference to the other of oneself. “ (p.53)

So basically SoTL needs to be reflective and at a metacognitive level explore sensemaking processes and structural influences on these, and question and analyse their influences on concrete educational practices

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