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    Academic Knowledge Meets Practice


    Learning Community for International Teaching and Learning Settings


    • In classroom, mobile chairs and tables
    • Field Visit in Adult/Continuing Education
    • In classroom, mobile chairs and tables

    Type and name of the course, curriculum, number of students

    Master Study in Education, Module Adult Education, 25 participants

    Aim of the strategy/method

    • to make academic knowledge relevant for practice settings
    • to give students competences how to apply academic knowledge in practice
    • to understand the gap between academic knowledge, needs of practice and how to overcome them
    • to learn how to analyze and reflect (in groups) practice observation based on academic knowledge

    Description of the strategy/method (main characteristics and factors) as you used it in your teaching referring to the above mentioned setting

    The strategy has several phases and may be realized one after another session.

    Phase 1 (e.g. one session of two hours each week during one semester): Academic texts in adult education are read by students and discussed in groups. This partly can be guided by specific criteria and partly can be carried out by the students individually. In this example we are doing this in the context of programme planning in adult and continuing education.

    Phase 2 (e.g. one or two sessions during the semester): Based on the understanding of the text and its concepts (e.g. needs vs. desires, target groups vs. participants, programme vs offers), the group is identifying attributes/characteristics, which can be observed (or asked) in practice of adult education concerning the concept. These attributes are then forming the structure of the observation grid. Afterwards, each attribute will be operationalized with a question, which can be asked in practice to get information about it. The observation grid that is discussed within the group then becomes a guide for the field visit, which is followed in phase 3.

    Phase 3 (about 2 hours): During phase 3, the field visit is done jointly together. The colleagues from the field of adult education are asked to present their organization. Afterwards students are raising questions towards the attributes, they have not received information so far.

    Phase 4  (e.g. one session of two hours during one semester): Afterwards the group is meeting again the class and is reflecting the results of their observation. This leads to an interrelation of academic knowledge/concepts and practice observation. It also leads to a substantial critical perspective on academic concepts and knowledge.

    Materials required

    Academic texts, which provides concepts, which can be easy observed by students; posters, markers for developing observation grid; organized field visit

    Origin and theoretical framework

    The method is developed based on theoretical discussions, which are going back to the discourse about professionalization in adult education in Germany: Tietgens (1988): professionalism as ‘the ability to use broad, scientifically deepened and diverse abstract knowledge adequate in concrete situations. Or contrariwise: to acknowledge in just these situations which parts of the knowledge could be relevant.’ Gieseke (2010) understands professionalism as ‘differentiated handling with research results of the discipline, together with interdisciplinary knowledge for the interpretation of an actor’s situations in a specific practical field.’ The methods was developed by Regina Egetenmeyer originally within the Mentoring-to-Teach Project (see below). Idea is the design of a didactical way, which allows young students to develop professionalism as it is outlined by Tietgens and Gieseke.

    Mentoring-to-Teach Approach: https://www.paedagogik.uni-wuerzburg.de/erwachsenenbildung/studium/bachelor-paedagogik/mentoring-to-teach/

    Weaknesses and strengths


    • The method allows to educate students towards competences, to use academic knowledge in a substantial way for practice reflection.
    • The method helps, that students understand how to read academic texts in (adult) education.
    • The method supports ongoing contacts with the field of practice in adult education.
    • The reflection phase shows the different perspectives; the participants have on the field. It helps students, to understand the value of team working and different perspectives.
    • The field visit motivates students to read texts properly and to raise adequate questions within the field visits. This perspective strengthens the recognition of the students of the study programme within the practice field of adult education.


    • The method takes time and the preparation of a field visit has to be done properly in advance.
    • Students need a minimum knowledge about empirical research to be able to identify observable attributes out of academic texts. Otherwise, it is advisable to guide students intensively in the development of observable attributes.

    Possible variations and different contexts where you have already used this strategy/method

    I am also using the strategy in Bachelor studies: For the first year, I am working on educational tasks and educational institutions. Therefore, I am preparing the observation grid to be used by the students. For the second year of Bachelor students, we have developed the Mentoring-to-Teach approach, in which didactical theories and principles are discussed. For these theories, an observation grid is developed. Afterwards, students get are observing a full (two-day) adult education course. Before and after the course, the students raise question to the practitioners (= mentors), to understand the concept and the methods of the course. Afterwards, students are coming back into class, and the didactical theories and principles are discussed in class. Based on this discussion, students learn how to use didactical theories.

    Other examples where you think it could be used

    It can be used for all setting, where academic concepts cannot directly be applied, but are used for understanding empirical/practice situations.

    Recommendations and tips for the implementation of the strategy/method

    It is helpful to select very detailed the text, which should provided concepts which are possible to operationalized in observable attributes. The method is very helpful, to build sustainable contacts to the field of practice. Due to the clear preparation, students normally raise good questions, which leave also a good impression for practice about the knowledge of the students. 

    Feel free to include some annexes connected to the use of the strategy/method (pictures, poster, video, final products….)

    Annex: Manual for mentees (in German only)


    In German:

    Project Website: https://www.paedagogik.uni-wuerzburg.de/erwachsenenbildung/studium/bachelor-paedagogik/mentoring-to-teach/
    Mentee hand book: https://www.paedagogik.uni-wuerzburg.de/fileadmin/06030031/_temp_/Menteehandbuch_Wuerzburg_200114.pdf
    Hand book for mentors: https://www.paedagogik.uni-wuerzburg.de/fileadmin/06030230/Mentoring_to_Teach/Wuerzburg_blau_Mentorinnenhandbuch_200114_01.pdf


    Gieseke, W. (2010). Professionalisierung in der Erwachsenenbildung/Weiterbildung. In R. Tippelt & A. von Hippel (ed.): Handbuch Erwachsenenbildung/Weiterbildung. 4. Aufl. Wiesbaden, S. 385-403
    Tietgens, H. (1988). Professionalität für die Erwachsenenbildung. In W. Gieseke, W. (ed.), Professionalität und Professionalisierung. Bad Heilbrunn/Obb. pp. 28-75.