Project “Competency-based restructuring @ HAW Hamburg 2014/2015”

Academic research and writing – Advancement of a didactical course design 

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. Previously, the course was transformed into a blended learning scenario (see Project “Blended learning @ HAW Hamburg 2014”).

However, the distribution of grades did not properly reflect the achievements of students (skewness). Consequently, the course was redesigned in line with the concept of competency-based education.

II. Methodical-didactical solution approach

The methodical-didactical solution approach was developed during internal didactical workshops on competency-based education held by Dr. Dr. Oliver Reis (Technical University of Dortmund). Process steps were as follows:

  • Taxonomic reclassification of learning outcome
  • Reformulation of learning outcome
  • Redesign of academic assessments
  • Switch from an analytical scoring sheet to a never-based grading model

III. Implementation

The new concept was implemented during the winter term 2014/2015. Three instructors were involved in the grading of term papers, posters and literature search protocols in order to avoid a grading bias. At the beginning of the term, students were extensively informed about the new concept.

IV. Results

The overall course results show a reasonable frequency distribution:

Bildschirmfoto 2015-07-05 um 10.14.08

However, a failure rate of 24% (14 students) was observed. The following aspects have been identified as reasons for failure:

  • One student failed due to going below the prescribed minimum page limit.
  • Two students failed due to improper citation (plagiarism).
  • Eleven students failed due to exceeding the time limit (procrastination).

At this point, time management seems to remain a major issue that needs to be closely monitored and eventually be addressed in the future.

The concept and its results were presented on an internal conference at HAW Hamburg on 26 June 2015:


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