gms | German Medical Science

Learning through Inquiry in Higher Education: Current Research and Future Challenges (INHERE 2018)

08.03. - 09.03.2018, München

The Institutional Framework of Inquiry-Based Learning (IBL) in German Universities and Universities of Applied Sciences

Meeting Abstract

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Learning through Inquiry in Higher Education: Current Research and Future Challenges (INHERE 2018). München, 08.-09.03.2018. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2018. Doc07

doi: 10.3205/18inhere07, urn:nbn:de:0183-18inhere079

Published: March 1, 2018

© 2018 Dinter.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License. See license information at



The study is part of the trace research project “ForschenLernen” and aims to enhance the understanding of how institutional conditions influence the design and success of Inquiry-Based Learning (IBL). Little is known about the effects of different kinds of IBL implementation at the organizational level in higher education. The main questions are: Is there a difference between more centralized management of IBL (top-down) compared to a structure primarily shaped by the faculties (bottom-up)? Which conditions are applicable to foster IBL and to incorporate practical research into the curriculum? Conversely: What are the organizational constraints; and is there some mode of collaboration or cooperation between student-led research and research projects conducted by university staff?

A qualitative survey was conducted among educational institutions participating in the “ForschenLernen” IBL project during the years 2016 and 2017. The survey comprised two waves of telephone interviews with one staff member at each partner university. All respondents were familiar with their universityʹs overarching structure as well as the development of IBL in their institution over the past years.

This short communication will present and discuss the initial survey findings. It becomes evident that measures for the organizational implementation of IBL have to consider disciplinary differences and the highly individual characteristics of each institution. The survey responses also show that a strategy for successfully incorporating IBL on a sustained basis must identify highly motivated personnel and support their work through crucial resources such as time, finance, and an appropriate degree of autonomy. In terms of collaboration between student research and projects conducted by university staff, it became evident that collaboration is more common in the natural sciences than in the social sciences and humanities.