The teaching of the future is on the drawing board

Aarhus University's joint educational strategy and new quality assurance policy have defined the framework for the degree programmes in combination with Health's local action plans and academic regulations. Now the content needs to be filled out, and during the course of 2022, the teaching of the future will be defined – from orientation week to graduation.

In 2022, Health will focus on the teaching of the future. Among other things, five working groups are appointed. Photo:

Physical learning spaces, research integration, internationalisation, pedagogy and digital skills. These are the focus areas in Aarhus University's strategy for 2020-2025. During the course of 2022, five working groups at Health will look at how strategy can be translated into action in the teaching.

"There’s an inherent value in continuously focusing on how we strengthen our degree programmes. With the working groups, we will have some important discussions about our degree programmes, so we can raise their level and reach a common understanding of values and principles for learning," says Vice-dean for Education Lise Wogensen Bach.

Lise Wogensen Bach explains that the working groups are broad in their composition, and that the intention is for the groups to present proposals for specific initiatives after completing their work.

"The first working group is looking at the basic pedagogical principles and values, and the idea is for this work to be compressed into around a two page memo, which can be used as a framework for the teaching staff and students. It's simply a question of creating a strategy that isn’t only tangible, but also usable, so we can strengthen the degree programmes at Health," she says.

Research integration is more than pipettes and microscopes

One of the main focus areas in the education strategy is integrating research in the teaching. According to the Deputy Head of Education at the Department of Biomedicine, Hanne Bjerregaard Møller, this is not simply a question of getting the students to handle pipettes and microscopes, but very much about preparing them to adopt a critical approach to the information they encounter.

"It's important that our students learn to adopt a critical approach to data and information. Not just during their education, but also to a high degree after they’ve graduated. The critical approach to knowledge and its research context extends beyond the degree programme, and this is important because for many of our graduates, their working life will involve solving complex problems and continuously relating to new data, discoveries and knowledge," says Hanne Bjerregaard Møller.

Hanne Bjerregaard Møller explains that there is considerable support for research-based teaching among the lecturers. She also says that much of the teaching already takes its point of departure in research.

"A lot of this is already being done and sometimes, as a faculty and teaching staff, we should be better at making the students aware that what they’re being introduced to in the classroom is the newest research and the newest data. For example, when medical students take the course in Genetics and Personalised Medicine on the first semester, they’re already working with original literature and research data during both the teaching and exams. And the majority of our teaching staff are researchers or training to become researchers, and in my experience they really want to integrate the latest knowledge into their teaching."

Lise Wogensen Bach also finds considerable support for research-based teaching. She is therefore looking forward to seeing the results of the working group that is focusing on this area.

"The working group will draw up a catalogue containing specific ideas for how we can bring researchers and students closer together. We need to get more students involved in projects at departmental level. And to help the students themselves to expand, work with and further develop their knowledge rather than primarily receiving teaching," she says.

The difficult start

In addition to working with strategy and its quality assurance policy, Health is also focusing on making sure the students have a good start to their studies. The transition from what is demanded at upper-secondary school and life as a young person to the demands made by the university can be difficult for many new students. More than a few experience self-doubt and question themselves during their first semester. For this reason, AU begun a pilot project in 2021 to give new students the best possible start to their studies and a solid introduction to life on campus. Across the faculties, students were given the opportunity to participate in "space for reflection", where the floor was open and a mentor – who was also a student – answered questions and facilitated a discussion about life as a student. On the medical degree programme, a total of thirty new first semester students were able to participate. Here the project was headed by Professor Jeppe Prætorius from the Department of Biomedicine.

"Many students are uncertain when they begin their studies, and to them it can appear as if all the other students are totally on top of everything. The spaces for reflection give them the opportunity to share the questions, doubts and problems they run into during the first semester,” he explains.

The idea behind the spaces for reflection is to curb the high drop-out rate on the first semesters which some of the university's degree programmes experience. And even though this is not a big problem for the medical degree programme, providing space for such ‘ask anything’ questions is still important, according to Jeppe Prætorius.

"The feedback from the mentors is that the students were really engaged in the first meetings in particular. Going from being an upper secondary school student to a university student and discovering that you’re responsible for your own learning is a big transition. We need to support the new students, so that they feel competent and secure early in their studies. This will help them be much better equipped to meet the increasing demands that the degree programme makes," he says.

Lise Wogensen Bach agrees that the good start to university life is an important starting point for the rest of the degree programme. She also points out that it is important for Health to offer degree programmes where the teaching is centred around the students. 

"A good start to the degree programme is crucial for social and academic integration, and thus for learning throughout the degree programme, where demands are made of the students to have e.g. global insight, digital skills and the development of a research-focused and analytical mindset. Health wishes to offer degree programmes of the highest international standard with clear values and pedagogical principles that put the students first,” she concludes.


A total of five groups are being appointed with different focus areas:

  • Pedagogical principles
  • Research integration
  • Digital competences
  • Internationalisation
  • Physical learning environments

Members of the groups:

  • All the groups have a coordinator from Health's Forum for Education
  • Lecturers/course managers employed at Health. Efforts will be made to ensure that all departments are represented, including teaching staff at both Bachelor’s and Master’s level and from the theoretical and practical teaching.
  • Two student representatives from the student forum.
  • Representative from HE Studies when relevant.
  • Representative from the Centre for Educational Development when relevant.


Vice-dean for Education Lise Wogensen Bach
Aarhus University, Health
Mobile: (+45) 2548 8522