On Monday evening, the “Ars Docendi” State Prizes for Excellence in Teaching were awarded to Austrian public universities, universities of applied sciences, private universities and pedagogical universities at the Aula der Wissenschaften in Vienna.
The “Ars Docendi” State Prize honours outstanding teaching performances at Austrian universities, thus emphasising the importance of teaching for the scientific system, the cooperation in tertiary education, and the associated quality development.
The Interdisciplinary Lab (iLab) of the St. Pölten UAS won the prize in the category “Cooperative Forms of Teaching and Working”. The innovative, interdisciplinary and international elective module fosters the qualifications of students in their respective areas of expertise and beyond.
The St. Pölten UAS has been offering this new, innovative elective module since the winter semester 2018/19. In the iLab, students form interdisciplinary and international teams to work intensively on a project with practical relevance – from the idea to its final implementation.
In this context, they address current social challenges from an interdisciplinary angle and broaden their perspectives on the discipline underlying their study programme. The focus is not only on the successful execution of the individual projects but especially on developing and sharpening professional and cross-disciplinary skills. Mentors accompany the students in this process.
“More than ever before, our daily aspects of life are permeated by digital technologies and scientific insights. These insights are supposed to help us overcome the various challenges of the 21st century – but they also confront us with new and frequently unforeseen problems. In the iLab, students put their expertise to use in teams and in practice. The projects promote independence and self-management, thus honing and deepening competencies which will be in great demand in the labour market of the future”, explains Alois Frotschnig, Head of the Department of Media and Digital Technologies at the St. Pölten UAS and the initiator of the iLab.
Unique in the German-Speaking Area
“The iLab was inspired by the intensive contacts with our Finnish partner university in Oulu and its lab model of the Oamk LABs. The lab learning model and project-oriented working are not new didactic models per se but their implementation in the form we use here is an innovation in the German-speaking area”, says Frotschnig.
16 students of the St. Pölten UAS and seven Erasmus students from 13 different study programmes and eight countries participated in the first round of the module. The next iLab starts in the winter semester 2019/20.
“Didactics in general are a top priority at our university and we explicitly promote innovative teaching formats and further didactic training of our lecturers. Many of our formats are unique in the university landscape. We are therefore very pleased that our achievements have now been honoured with the ‘Ars Docendi’ State Prize as well”, explains Monika Vyslouzil, Chairperson of the UAS Board.
“In our UAS strategy 2021, we profess our commitment to interdisciplinarity and internationalisation at our university of applied sciences. The iLab caters to both objectives in an outstanding manner”, says UAS Executive Director Gernot Kohl. “The recognition with the ‘Ars Docendi’ State Prize attests to the high quality of the programme. We would like to cordially congratulate everyone at the UAS who has a hand in this project”, adds UAS Executive Director Gabriela Fernandes.
- The iLab at the St. Pölten UAS
- Report on the completion of the first round (in German)
- Field Report of a student
“Ars Docendi“ State Prize for Excellence in Teaching
The State Prize was awarded by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research together with Universities Austria, the Association of Universities of Applied Sciences in Austria (FHK), the Association of Private Universities in Austria, the Rectors’ Conference of Austrian University Colleges of Teacher Education, and the Austrian National Union of Students (ÖH).