Kepler Awards for Excellence in Teaching.

The Johannes Kepler University Linz aims to establish higher educational standards that are simultaneously more visible to the outside.

The JKU is pleased to introduce the Kepler Awards in recognition of innovative teaching. The awards have been created to support higher educational standards, inspire the integration of new technologies in the classroom, and drive excellence in education. The awards supplement existing quality criteria, such as the Ars Docendi (state award for Excellence in Teaching at Austria's public universities and colleges).

Category of Innovative Education – Kepler Award for Teaching Innovation

Core Idea and Criteria

The Kepler Awards for Innovative Teaching will be presented in recognition of highly innovative courses, particularly in regard to overall concept and/or key educational components. In particular, these courses follow the lines of the criteria equivalent to the Ars Docendi: 

Innovative University Didactics

Innovative university didactics can be defined differently in each subject area and is conveyed, for example, by the use of new educational concepts, teaching methods and learning outcome orientation. The educational concept supports interdisciplinary skills and qualifications.

Student-Centered Teaching and Heterogeneity

Student-centered teaching takes different educational backgrounds and levels of education into account as well as the learning and study conditions for an increasingly heterogeneous student body stemming from various walks of life. Students are not only actively involved in creating and implementing courses, they are also actively encouraged to acquire individual skills. The educational concept includes inclusion aspects as well as raising awareness about social inequalities and their impact.

Focus on Competence

Educators base their pedagogical concept on pre-defined competence profiles and learning goals as well as learning outcomes. The lessons are based on a structured, competence-oriented concept that students can understand at all times. Special emphasis can be placed on combining theory and real-world applications of the content that has been taught, i.e. the educational concept demonstrates correlations between scientific/academic theories and methods and professional, real-world applications.

Categories equivalent to Ars Docendi

In the context of this award, each award-winning course is assigned to one of the Ars Docendi categories, which for 2021, were as follows:

Learning Outcome-Oriented Examination Traditions and their Anchoring as part of the Course

Example: Using innovative educational and learning formats to implement competence-oriented curricula, new concepts to grade acquired skills/knowledge and/or their implementation, comparing educational/learning formats using learning/result-oriented examination methods.

Digital Transformation in th Clasroom

Example: Holistic educational and learning formats combining classroom instruction and the use of digital media and formats (including the use of open educational resources), supporting digital skill learning as outlined in the European Digital Competence Framework for Citizens: Managing information, communication, creating digital content, security, problem solving; addressing digital technologies and new cultural techniques as well as computational thinking, reflective use of digital eductional and learning formats to support student-centered eduction (i.e. flexible in term of location and time constraints)

Collaborative Form of Education and Working Together

Example: Creating and implementing joint educational content (i.e. joint or jointly created curricula, courses, grading) beyond universities and/or university sectors, inter-university or cross-sectoral qualification measures in subject areas and university didactics, transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary education and learning environments.

Research-related and/or Artistically Incorporated Educational Concepts

Example: Research-based and research-oriented teaching and/or educational concepts that focus on developing the arts, leading students to conduct research and further develop the arts (i.e. by teaching research methods, organizing discussions with researchers, independently designing research processes), student participation in research discourse and projects (interdisciplinary and international) and supporting critical reflection of the ensuing discourse and projects

Quality Improvement of Teaching and Ability to Study

Example: Visible quality improvement of courses by using findings from evaluations and monitoring (preparation - implementation - examination), exchange and cooperation between university instructors and faculty members (i.e. peer observation, peer-teaching), exchange between university instructors and students, such as productive feedback, further developing courses by incorporating information acquired as part of didactic programs, flexible eductional and learning formats for heterogeneous student groups (i.e. students working full-time or part-time).

Call

The JKU Rectorate herewith announces a call once during the academic year to invite submissions for the Kepler Award for Teaching Innovation. The award will be presented to up to three university courses.

In addition, together with the winner of the Kepler Digital Award for Excellent Teaching, the three university courses selected by the panel of experts (see "Jury and Presenting the Award") represent proposals by the JKU Rectorate for the Ars Docendi - the state award for excellence in teaching at Austria's public universities, universities of applied sciences, and private universities (as advertised by the Austrian Ministry of Science and Research). The Rectorate, however, is free to include additional courses to nomination submitted to the Ministry. The Ars Docendi in the respective year is generally announced in December; as a rule, submissions are to be submitted by early March of the following year.

Submission

Please submit nominations for the teaching award informally by sending an e-mail to: kepler-award@jku.at by December 31, 2021. The nomination must include:

  • The course's title at the JKU and course number
  • The name of the course administrator/managing department or institute
  • The semester the course was held
  • Reason for submission (3 to 5 arguments, max. 1000 characters; see: selection criteria)

Those permitted to submit nominations include:

  • Students may submit nominations via the JKU Austrian Student Union and its sub-organizations (students can submit nominations to the Student Union; the Student Union can also submit nominations; in this way, a maximum of three courses per academic degree program may be nominated)
  • JKU faculty members who would like to nominate their own course
  • JKU faculty members who would like nominate a course held by another faculty members
  • Heads of institutes and departments
  • Study commissions chairpersons
  • Department spokespersons
  • Deans

If a course is nominated for the award by a third party, approval by the course management is required. The course management must provide the required course information to the jury.

Courses held during the last two semesters prior to announcing the call for the award and are part of a regular curriculum (source curriculum) may be nominated.

The Jury and Presenting the Award

A panel of experts consisting of one Senate member per curia, two JKU Austrian Student Union representatives, and two representatives from each faculty and the School of Education will select three award winners from all submitted entries. The Vice-Rectorate for Academic Affairs will review the selections and provide the grounds for selecting the (winning) courses.

The Senate, the JKU Austrian Student Union, and the faculties as well as the School of Education are to select jury members and send the nominations by no later than December 31 to the Vice-Rectorate for Academic Affairs.

The awards are endowed with € 500 in prize money and will be presented to the recipient during a scheduled awards ceremony.

Category Digital Education – Kepler Award for Excellence in Digital Teaching

Core Idea and Criteria

Entries must contain elements of the following in order to qualify and be considered:

  • The course is characterized by its innovative organizational focus (not content) on "digital teaching", "e-Learning", "blended learning" and/or "remote learning".
  • As the course is organized digitally, students who work full-time or part-time can complete the course.
  • The course's digital technologies can also be transferred to other courses.
  • The learning requirements extend beyond mere knowledge transfer and are characterized by teaching digital, creative, critical and/or problem-oriented thinking.
  • The course's learning objectives and the form of grading are coordinated in synch and in line with the curriculum's qualification profile.
  • The course extends beyond a "a teacher-centered lecture" and encourages active participation and learning.
  • During the semester, students regularly receive proactive feedback about their learning progress from course administrators.
  • The course's evaluation criteria are fair and transparent.
  • All of the course information is available and up-to-date in the JKU course catalog.

Note regarding lectures: Even though it is more difficult for lectures to meet this criteria, we are actively encouraging nominations for lectures. The criteria will be taken into account when evaluating the nomination.

Call

The JKU Rectorate herewith announces a call once during the academic year to invite submissions for the Kepler Award for Digital Innovation. The award will be presented to one university course.

Together with the winners of the Kepler Award for Teaching Innovation, the winning course selected by the panel of experts (see "Jury and Presenting the Award") for the Kepler Award for Digital Innovation will be nominated by the JKU Rectorate for the Ars Docendi - the state award for excellence in teaching at Austria's public universities, universities of applied sciences, and private universities (as advertised by the Austrian Ministry of Science and Research). The Rectorate, however, is free to include additional courses to nomination submitted to the Ministry. The Ars Docendi in the respective year is generally announced in December; as a rule, submissions are to be submitted by early March of the following year.

Submission

Please submit nominations for the teaching award informally by sending e-mail to: kepler-award@jku.at by December 31, 2021. The nomination must include:

  • The course's title at the JKU and course number
  • The name of the course administrator/managing department or institute
  • The semester the course was held
  • Reason for submission (approx. 1 paragraph; see: selection criteria)

Those permitted to submit nominations include:

  • Students may submit nominations via the JKU Austrian Student Union and its sub-organizations (students can submit nominations to the Student Union; the Student Union can also submit nominations; in this way, a maximum of three courses per academic degree program may be nominated)
  • JKU faculty members who would like to nominate their own course
  • JKU faculty members who would like nominate a course held by another faculty members
  • Heads of institutes and departments
  • Study commissions chairpersons
  • Department spokespersons
  • Deans

Wird eine Lehrveranstaltung von einer dritten Person für den Preis vorgeschlagen, ist jedenfalls die Zustimmung der Lehrveranstaltungsleitung einzuholen. Die Lehrveranstaltungsleitung muss in jedem Fall die von der Jury für notwendig erachteten Informationen zur Lehrveranstaltung bereitstellen.

If a course is nominated for the award by a third party, approval by the course management is required. The course management must provide the required course information to the jury.

 

The Jury and Presenting the Award

A panel of experts consisting of one Senate member per curia, two JKU Austrian Student Union representatives, and two representatives from each faculty and the School of Education will select three award winners from all submitted entries. The Vice-Rectorate for Academic Affairs will review the selections and provide the grounds for selecting the (winning) courses. The Senate, the JKU Austrian Student Union, and the faculties as well as the School of Education are to select jury members by no later than December 31 and send the nominations to the Vice-Rectorate for Academic Affairs. The awards are endowed with € 500 in prize money and will be presented to the recipient during a scheduled awards ceremony.

Category Student Award - Kepler Student Award for Excellent Teaching

Core Idea and Criteria

The winner of this category will receive an award based on the best student course evaluation. The results from the final overall evaluation in which the students rate the course as a whole in one question will be considered. If the results are identical, the course with the highest percentage response will be selected. Due to the difficulty of comparison, one course per faculty and a course at the School of Education will be eligible to win an award in this category.

Call

Publishing a call is unnecessary as the results are directly available and will be reviewed accordingly. Once the decision has been made, corresponding notification will be included in the student evaluation.

 

Submission

Similar to the call, separate submissions are unnecessary. Courses that were held during the last two semesters prior to the call's publication have received sufficient student response for statistical evaluation and are a part the program's regular curriculum (source curriculum).

 

The Jury and Presenting the Award

A panel of experts is not required to select a winner in this category. The information was collected by the Department of Quality Management and the formal selection will be carried out by the Vice-Rectorate for Academic Affairs. The awards are endowed with € 500 in prize money and will be presented to the recipient during a scheduled awards ceremony.