The Johannes Kepler University Linz is committed to raising the bar in higher education, aiming to continually support advancements in education and become increasingly visible in terms of excellence.
In response, the Rectorate has been presenting the annual "Kepler Awards for Excellence in Teaching" since 2021. In addition to ongoing initiatives such as the Ars Docendi (national award for outstanding teaching at Austria's public universities, universities of applied sciences, private universities, teacher education colleges), these awards serve to showcase innovative approaches, drive excellence in teaching forward, and spotlight outstanding 'best practice' models.
The terms and conditions for the fourth annual "Kepler Award for Excellence in Teaching" have been revised and amended based on suggestions made by a panel of experts, namely a broad committee consisting of three Senate committee representatives, the Austrian Student Union, and the Works Council, and with the support of the Department of Quality Management & Reporting.
The JKU Rectorate welcomes submissions for the "2024 Kepler Awards for Excellence in Teaching", opens a file.
The awards will be presented in the following three categories:
Three awards in the "Best Practice" category will be be presented in recognition of outstanding educational concepts that have proven to be particularly successful as part of the courses as outlined in an academic degree program's curriculum and held during the 2022/2023 academic year; these are courses thta could also serve as a model to other faculty members striving to become a better educator.
The "Best Practice Awards" are generally announced on an open-topic basis and as such, the awards are open to all faculty members who have created high-quality educational concepts. The selection panel has agreed, however, to annually define a particular thematic emphasis and submissions focusing on this emphasis would, in the event of any doubt, be given preferential consideration for the award.
The "2024 Kepler Awards for Excellence in Teaching" focuses on "Overcoming the Challenges of Large-Size Courses", whereby "large courses" are considered a student enrollment of approximately 100+. In this context, the criteria focuses on how faculty members can motivate their students to attend the class - even if attendance is not mandatory - and get them to actively take part in class. There will also be a focus on how to successfully integrate research findings into large-size courses in accordance with the principle of research-driven education.
The Kepler Award in the "Best Practice" category is endowed with € 500. In addition to the prize money, the award winner's institute/department will receive a € 1,000 credit to the institute/department's expense account, which the institute/department can use toward educational purposes, such as supporting his/her academic courses, and/or for research. The prize money can only be awarded to the award winner and used for purposes as specified by the award winner.
Submit applications for the Kepler Award in the "Best Practice" category by e-mail to: kepler-award(at)jku.at by no later than March 18, 2024. The application must include:
We would like to invite you to submit an application and we look forward to receiving a variety of inspiring submissions!
In addition to submitting your own application, external parties can also submit nominations relating to this year's main themed focus. The following are eligible to submit nominations:
Submit nominations by e-mail to: kepler-award(at)jku.at by no later than March 18, 2024. The application must include:
Nominations submitted by external parties will only be taken into consideration for the award providing the nominated candidate has given their consent and supplied more detailed information (as deemed necessary by the Kepler Award selection panel).
The best (timely) submissions for the Austrian Ministry of Education, Science & Research's award of the same name ("for outstanding teaching at Austria's public universities, universities of applied sciences, private universities, and teacher education colleges") will be awarded as part of the "Ars Docendi" category. The application guidelines for the Ars Docendi award have already been sent to department spokespersons (professors) and mid-level faculty, and are also available here, opens a file.
As with the Kepler Awards for the "Best Practice" category, the "Ars Docendi" category is endowed with prize money in the amount of € 500. In addition to the prize money, the award winner's institute/department will receive a € 1,000 credit to the institute/department's expense account, which the institute/department can use toward educational purposes, such as supporting his/her academic courses, and/or for research. The prize money can only be awarded to the award winner and used for purposes as specified by the award winner.
The Kepler Award for Excellence in Teaching is tied to the Rectorate's support for outstanding Ars Docendi submissions (as outlined in the competition's terms and conditions). The Rectorate will use the Kepler Award jury's assessment as a guideline to render a decision as to whether or not to support other, non-award-winning submissions. In addition, the Rectorate reserves the right to support thematically applicable submissions for the "Best Practice" category (with the applicant's consent/permission) for the Ars Docendi.
Do not send a separate application for the "Ars Docendi" Kepler Award. All Ars Docendi submissions that adhere to the guidelines will automatically be considered for the JKU's in-house award.
The "Best Teacher" awards are based on the same idea as the former "Kepler Student Award for Excellent Teaching" and will continue to be awarded based on student course evaluations. The new feature, however, is that the evaluation is no longer conducted separately for individual courses, but rather the award winners will be selected by focusing on the individual instructor and the overall outcome of all course evaluations for one instructor.
The Department of Quality Control & Reporting will draw up a shortlist of candidates for the "Best Teacher" award (separately for each of the four faculties and the School of Education) based on responses to the question "Overall, I think the course is [...]:" with answer options ranging from 1 (very good) to 6 (very poor). The Kepler Award jury is responsible for selecting award winners from this shortlist and any deviation from the calculated results is only permitted upon submission of justified reasons.
Similar to the other two categories, the "Best Teacher" Kepler Awards are endowed with prize money in the amount of € 500 per award. Any additional monetary endowment beyond this amount is unlikely.
Do not send a separate application for the "Best Teacher" Kepler Award. All faculty members whose courses received a minimum of 20 responses (weighted according to the number of faculty members) submitted during the 2022/2023 academic year (overall course evaluations) will be automatically eligible to win the award.
A jury of experts (varying in terms of members and depending on the award category) will render the decisions regarding the recipients of the "Kepler Awards for Excellence in Teaching".
The jury for the "Kepler Awards for Excellence in Teaching" in the categories of "Best Practice" and "Ars Docendi" consists of the Senate Chairperson, the Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs, a representative from the Austrian Students' Union, a representative from spokespersons from the Senate's professors' committee, a representative from the mid-level faculty committee, and a representative from the student committee (or representatives delegated by them).
The jury for the "Kepler Awards for Excellence in Teaching" in the "Best Teacher" category is comprised of the Senate Chairperson, the Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs, a representative of the Austrian Students' Union, and the spokespersons of the professors' committee, the mid-level faculty committee, and the student committee (of the Faculty Assembly for the respective faculty or the Institute Conference at the School of Education, or representatives delegated by them).
Regardless of the jury's composition, members of the Working Group for Equal Opportunites, the Works Council for Academic Employees, and the Department of Quality Control will serve in an advisory capacity.
Organized jointly by the Senate and the Rectorate, the awards ceremony will take place in May 2024.