Project “Blended learning @ HAW Hamburg 2014”

Academic research and writing – development of research competencies via a blended learning scenario


I. Initial situation

Since summer 2014, “Academic research and writing” has been a mandatory course of the degree programme “Foreign Trade/International Management” (B.Sc.) at HAW Hamburg.

The course is held every semester; the number of participants ranges between 45 and 50.

Prior to this, courses for the development of research competencies were unsystematically dispersed over two semesters. Furthermore, the previous course titles, “Presentation skills” and “Writing skills”, allowed for a limited description of the course content (academic research and writing). Consequently, students dealt with the problem of an assumedly disjunctive content. Instructors, on the other hand, observed that only a small number of students were able to fulfil the examination requirements.

In particular, the following problems were observed:

  • Insufficient understanding of the relevance of academic research and writing
  • Non-compliance with formal norms and rules
  • Non-awareness of the problems of plagiarism and collusion
  • Lack of intrinsic motivation
  • Procrastination and non-compliance with required time limits

II. Methodical-didactical solution approach

The methodical-didactical solution approach partly follows the approach of the inverted classroom model already implemented within the project ICM @ HAW Hamburg 2013. Additionally, in order to enable students to achieve the learning objectives, the course was divided into three intertwined elements:

  • Academic research

An eight-week block course on the basis of blended learning, aimed at the teaching of the relevant basics.

  • Applied literature search

A six-week literature search module based on e-learning including the submission of a literature search protocol within the context of the student’s individual research topic.

  • Academic writing

An eight-week block course including PC lab, presentation and poster workshops and completed by a “student poster research conference”.


III. Technical concept and operational realisation

The production of the e-learning units supporting the elements “Academic research” and “Academic writing” was based on previously tested technological solutions. However, video sessions were divided into smaller units (information chunking). Furthermore, special focus was laid on the relevance of individual chapters within the context of the course.


IV. Results

In summer term 2014, 95% of the participants were able to pass the course. Success rates of previous semesters had been substantially lower:

  • 75% in winter term 2013/14
  • 83% in summer term 2013
  • 72% in winter term 2012/13

Consequently, one of the major objectives, the reduction of procrastination rates, could be achieved.

The methodical-didactical conception and technical production were realised on a private basis, i.e. without public funding and outside of regular working hours.


The project was presented at the conference “3. Tag der Lehre 2014” at FH St. Pölten, St. Pölten/Austria:

Poster_ARAW_St_Poelten