gms | German Medical Science

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

08.03. - 09.03.2018, München

How do students learn through research? – Operating between know-how, methods, and attitudes

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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. Doc24

doi: 10.3205/18inhere24, urn:nbn:de:0183-18inhere248

Published: March 1, 2018

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



The academic-didactic concept of research-oriented teaching strives to include students in the scientific cognitive processes in such a manner that they can actively (participate in) research. This way, students should (better) manage to adapt a scientific approach [1] that is characterised by an independent, methodologically substantiated, and reflective approach. These teaching and learning settings are challenging for all involved actors and at various levels [2], which led me to question how students perceive their own learning situation, which learning strategies they develop, and how they organise their learning processes and master the subject matter.

Within the sub-project “Learning” of the BMBF-supported cooperative project ResearchLearning, I have selected a qualitative research design, which is based on the Grounded Theory methodology [3]. The research data are gathered from group discussions [4] and problem-oriented interviews (Witzel 2000) with students from various institutes of higher education, various Master’s and Bachelor’s degree programmes of the social sciences and humanities in 2015 and 2016.

The analytical background of the subject-scientific theory of learning [5], with its theoretical conceptualisation of the analytical categories of the defensive vs. the expansive learning rationale patterns, allowed me to work out three central learning rationale types. The starting point for student learning processes are various problems of action, which can range from knowledge acquisition to the development of methodological competences and the development of a scientific identity, and are therefore related to distinct learning interests and challenges. Crucial differentiation criteria for the systematisation of the student learning strategies are the degree of reflective capacity and the assumption of responsibility for a student’s own learning process.

Related to this, the question arises to which extent detailed knowledge regarding student learning strategies and patterns might aid the consulting support of student learning processes.


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