High-quality teaching is underpinned by research and has many facets. It is based on the scientific skills of the teaching staff and meets high demands in terms of teaching standards. Students are encouraged to think creatively, critically and in an interdisciplinary manner through a teaching and learning process that promotes partnerships and dialog. Thus, teaching prepares students to adopt a responsible approach to their roles in science, economics and society.
By promoting innovative teaching, the University of Bern ensures the highest level of education possible – even with a large number of students. The University places increasing emphasis on inter- and transdisciplinarity in teaching. The University is intensifying the establishment of degree programs with innovative content and methodology, is distinguishing itself with appealing, practical and topical masters courses, and is responding to the needs of the capital's region with specific master courses.
So that students can shape their studies in a meaningful way, the University of Bern enables study programs to be organized in a coherent manner and facilitates effective consultation, care and support from a technical, administrative – and social – perspective. The University of Bern supports international student exchanges.
In cooperation with the Vice-Rectorate Quality, instruments for the evaluation of courses and study programmes are developed, refined and implemented. The evaluation primarily aims to establish the quality of teaching and addresses overall university requirements. With regard to the evaluation of teaching, the external perspective is to complement internal analyses.
Evaluation of courses and performance assessments
Courses constitute a major part of teaching. Some relevant questions about courses can be assessed with the help of feedback from students. The courses given by all teaching staff are evaluated on a regular basis. The faculties determine the evaluation scope and procedure and check the process. They determine which average values must be targeted and ensure that the results are used to develop courses and teaching in general. Higher Education Didactics helps members of the teaching staff to develop their teaching.
Among others, the following questions are relevant:
- Presentation of the subject (definition of the learning objectives and structure of the course)
- Commitment of the person teaching
- Difficulty and scope of the course
- Commitment of the students
- Socio-demographic data (e.g. gender) and background data
The surveys generally take place during a course and are carried out on an anonymous basis. Are the results guaranteed to be representative, are online surveys also possible. The lecturers discuss the results with the students briefly during the semester, certainly before the end of the semester, and outline planned measures to improve the lectures. The faculties report to the Executive Board of the University of Bern on the results and any action that may be needed once a year.
Performance assessments play an important guiding and orientation role for the study programs. They relate to one or more courses or sections of the study programs and are carried out orally or in writing. The criteria for assessing students' performance must be defined, communicated and applied systematically, transparently and consistently. The University verifies that the performance assessments meet these criteria.
Evaluation of study programs
An evaluation is intended to determine and document the quality of the study program and its relevance to society as well as possibilities for its further development. Furthermore, such an evaluation is a prerequisite for a possible revision of the curriculum.
In coordination with the responsible committees, the faculty QAD expert committees determine which study programs are to be evaluated at what time ("rolling planning") and communicate this planning across the faculty. This creates transparency and planning security. Each study program must be evaluated regularly, whereby a seven- to eight-year cycle is recommended in accordance with national and international standards.
For the analysis and grading, the units rely on quantitative and qualitative data, on surveys and feedback – both written and verbal – and, if applicable, on comparisons. The Guidelines for the self-evaluation of study programs are used to specify the contents and procedures for evaluations.
The evaluation of study programs can be guided by the following questions:
- What status does a course have with regard to its (orientation) profile, its scientific quality, its contribution to society, and its development opportunities?
- How are the personnel resources to be assessed with regard to fulfillment of the assignment and targets?
- How are the facilities and financial resources to be assessed in relation to fulfillment of teaching duties?
- How are the teaching and learning activities to be assessed?
- How are the results of teaching to be assessed with regard to results and impact?
- How is the teaching to be assessed with regard to the promotion of early career researchers?
- How are the support and administrative tasks to be assessed?
Figures and statistics are part of the regular measurement of the university's performance. The most important statistics and figures are prepared and published by the university's Controller service. In teaching, these are data on the students and on the studies as well as on the teaching staff.
The University has stipulated the increased involvement of external reviewers and expertise to assess the quality of teaching, research and the promotion of young researchers. The evaluation pool has been created to promote external review and expertise, from which financial resources can be applied for to cover the costs incurred in this context.
Vice-Rectorate Quality, QAD Office
Dr. Carsten Knigge
Every two years, the University of Bern assesses data from the Swiss Federal Statistical Office on graduates of Swiss higher education institutions (on display internal University - German versions only). The results show that graduates are happy with the branch of study they have chosen and with the University of Bern. Following their degree, they find employment which requires a university degree and, in most cases, is related to their studies. At least three quarters of graduates are employed one year after completing the second level of their studies (Master's); the unemployment rate is lower than the Swiss average. Bernese graduates view their studies as a very good basis for developing their personal skills and most also describe it as appropriate training. In all academic fields, holders of Master's degrees rate their theoretical and methodological specialist knowledge as good to outstanding. However, the non-subject-specific competences required when starting work often prove a very considerable challenge.
The faculties include the results of the surveys in the development of their study programs.
Vice-Rectorate Quality, QAD Office
Dr. Carsten Knigge