Rethinking Learning in Higher Education


In the context of the Bologna Process European higher education institutions (HEIs) have started to engage in curricular and pedagogical renewal to increase not only the quantity but the quality of their graduates. A paradigm and culture shift from teacher-centred to student-centred learning and instruction is proposed among other measures in order for HEIs to successfully prepare their students for life and work in the knowledge society and economy of the 21st century. How can instructors design and bring to life powerful student-centred learning environments (SCLEs) that provide students with opportunities for deep learning? The scientific objective of this EU-funded research project is to develop a situative educational model to advance theory building and guide the design and implementation of powerful SCLEs in higher education classrooms.
A conceptual framework is developed based on an expansive literature review outlining well-founded common design principles and instructional quality dimensions and features of SCLEs that reflect a situative constructivist view of learning and instruction. The framework serves as a starting point and point of reference to structure the empirical research context.
The ethnographic case study research (empirical study) investigates three authentic university courses (seminars with 25 up to 38 students) for prospective teachers enrolled in a 1-year Master’s programme at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA, USA. Exploring authentic classroom learning, teaching and interaction practices provides rare and detailed glimpses into student-centred classrooms in order to carve out and systematise characteristic course design elements, instructional strategies, and teaching and learning challenges these classrooms present for the instructors and/or the students.
For data collection and analysis purposes several instruments are used to access rich empirical data that allow for thick descriptions and interpretations in the context of single and cross case analyses: participant observations, half-standardised student evaluation surveys, semi-structured instructor and student interviews and class videotapes. The qualitative coding process is informed by categories and codes iteratively developed based on theory and data. Event sampling, a constant-comparison approach and interaction analysis are used to identify underlying patterns and practices that emerge consistently in the naturalistic classrooms under study.
The empirical case study findings informed the development of a situative educational model outlining the following core components of powerful SCLEs: (1) The learning environment embodies aligned curricular design elements and related quality features that allow the students to engage with relevant and challenging content (e.g., questions, tasks) and achieve high-level learning outcomes; (2) Students are positioned for active participation in knowledge construction and interactions – as accountable authors, active and vocal participants, and responsible co-designers; (3) Instructors apply adaptive instructional strategies to support students’ participatory processes of knowledge construction and to cultivate a productive and supportive classroom community of learners.
The study also discusses challenges to the implementation of student-centred learning and instruction and draws implications for higher education classrooms and institutions to foster high-quality education and ultimately high-quality graduates.

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Additional Informationsunspecified
Commencement Date1 August 2009
Contributors Hoidn, Sabine (Project Manager)
Datestamp 24 Jun 2016 17:37
Institute/School SfS - Institute of Sociology
Completion Date 31 May 2013
Publications Hoidn, Sabine: An Alternative Model of Learning: Implications of Learning Sciences Research for the Creation of Effective Technology-Enhanced Learning Environments. , 2009,
Hoidn, Sabine: The Design of Exploratory Learning Environments. École Normale Supérieure, Cognitive Science Department (invited colloquium presentation, June 22). Paris, France, 22 June 2010.
Hoidn, Sabine: Critical Exploration: The Creation of an Exploratory Learning Environment in Teacher Education. 2010. - 9th International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS) (pre-conference workshop contribution). - Chicago, IL, USA.
Hoidn, Sabine: Teaching and Learning: "The Having of Wonderful Ideas". Cambridge, MA, USA : Harvard University, 2010.
Hoidn, Sabine: Designing Exploratory Learning Environments. 2011. - American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting 2011. - New Orleans, USA.
Hoidn, Sabine: Piaget in Action : Critical Exploration in the University Classroom. 2011. - 41st Annual Meeting of The Jean Piaget Society. - Berkeley, California, USA.
Hoidn, Sabine: Investigating Learning and Teaching through Close Collaborative Examination of Student and Teacher Work. Cambridge, MA, USA : Harvard University, 2010.
Hoidn, Sabine: Effective Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. 2011. - 14th Biennial European Conference for Research on Learning and Instruction (EARLI). - Exeter.
Hoidn, Sabine: Group Learning. Cambridge, MA, USA : Harvard University, 2011.
Hoidn, Sabine: Designing Effective Student-Centred Learning Environments in Higher Education : Cross Case Analysis Results. , 2012,
Hoidn, Sabine & Kärkkäinen, Kiira: Promoting Skills for Innovation in Higher Education : A Literature Review on the Effectiveness of Problem-Based Learning and of Teaching Behaviours. OECD Education Working Papers, No. 100, 2014,
Hoidn, Sabine: Designing Student-Centered Learning Environments for Higher Education Classrooms. 2013. - 13th American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting. - San Francisco, California, USA.
Shorr, William; Hoidn, Sabine; Lowry, Chris & Cavicchi, Elizabeth (ed.) : Always Wondering ... a Mélange of Eleanor Duckworth and Critical Exploration. Cambridge, MA, USA : Critical Exploration Press, 2013,
Hoidn, Sabine: Hochschulen als studierendenzentrierte Lehr-Lernumgebungen: Curriculare, pädagogische und organisationale Implikationen für die Konzeptualisierung effektiver studierendenzentrierter Lehr-Lernumgebungen an Hochschulen. Forschungstag PPD. Universität Zürich, 29 May 2013.
Hoidn, Sabine (2014) Critical Exploration in the University Classroom: Implications for Teaching and Teachers. Global Journal of Human-Social Science, 14 (2-B). 39-45. ISSN 2249-460X
Hoidn, Sabine: Wirksame studierendenzentrierte Lernumgebungen an Hochschulen. ExpertInnenforum Hochschuldidaktik", University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria. Wels, Austria, 12 June 2014.
Hoidn, Sabine: Designing powerful student-centred learning environments. [Conference or Workshop Item]
Hoidn, Sabine: Student-centred learning environments in higher education classrooms. Invited colloquium presentation at the Institute of Educational Research and Development, Faculty of Education. Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic, 18 February 2016.
Keywords Learning sciences, learning, teaching, learning model, higher education
Methods Case study research, interviews, video analysis, participant observation, document analysis
Funders EU – 7th Framework Programme
Id 61038
Project Range School
Project Status ongoing
Subjects education
Topics Learning model, case study research in higher education, Harvard University
Project Type fundamental research project
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