Dialogical Learning

Education - and this is especially true for liberal education, which takes place in a community - is made up of thousands of little interactions between many different people. The quality of interactions you have when you talk to someone in the hallway, when a student talks to a professor, when you send an email, all those little interactions converge and form into something bigger. So if you just focus on making that interaction really purposeful and simple in a practical way, then it all comes together.

       Prof. Dr. Teun Dekker - Interview

Participation, reflection and shared responsibility are essential elements of Leuphana's teaching and learning culture. This culture and the possibilities of Leuphana as a presence university open up spaces for encounter and dialogue. Dialogue - understood not only as a form of communication, but as an attitude - thus serves as a starting point for joint development and shared awareness. By shaping these interactions, teachers and students take joint responsibility for the success of teaching and learning.

With dialogue orientation as a field of interaction in teaching development, opportunities are to be highlighted and impulses given to initiate this development and to awaken this awareness. In line with the mission statement of Leuphana University, dialogue orientation implies self-determination, courage and the willingness to ask questions about freedom and responsibility. This idea concerns the university as a whole and thus goes beyond the design of teaching-learning processes.

Dimensions of dialogue orientation

The university is understood as a community and community as potential. Dialogue as a maxim for communication, encounter and joint development thus reaches various dimensions of everyday university life: in addition to dialogue orientation as a perspective in teaching, dialogue can also serve as a point of reference in the exchange about teaching as well as for teaching development and the realisation of Leuphana's mission statement. The basis for successful dialogue and partnership lies in the perception of shared responsibility, mutual trust and respect. Understood in this way, dialogue becomes an instrument for achieving common aspirations - not only in teaching, but for teaching and university development in general.

Dialogue Orientation ...

... as a university-wide process

  •  Continuous further development of the quality of teaching in a university-wide process of understanding
  •  Participation of students and teachers in the dialogue on quality development
  •  Making good teaching visible, e.g. through the Leuphana Teaching Award and the creation of framework conditions for a continuous exchange about teaching

... as a perspective in teaching

  •  Strengthened personal interaction between students and teachers in face-to-face teaching and promotion of teaching/learning quality through targeted promotion of dialogue in teaching, e.g. through

... in the institutional guiding principle

  •  In a culture of learning from and with each other, students are prepared for their professional future and for shaping society in the sense of the mission statement of the humanistic and action-oriented university.
  •  Promoting the ability to engage in dialogue as a basic competence and establishing a dialogue-oriented study and teaching culture

Dialogue in Teaching

Successful dialogue in teaching can symbolise the shared responsibility for the design and success of the learning process. Dialogue is not merely understood as a conversation or exchange of opinions between students and teachers, but rather as an attitude and a starting point for a collective thinking process. Dialogue competence serves as a basis for understanding and comprehension in teaching. Dialogue between students and teachers opens up spaces for contradictions and enables the strengthening of argumentative competence and critical judgement.

How can teaching be made dialogue-oriented?

Just as there are no universally valid recipes for good teaching, this also applies to the dialogue-oriented design of teaching. Nevertheless, some hints can be formulated and impulses given, as well as methods and formats presented, which can serve as a basis for the design of dialogue-oriented teaching.

In dialogue-oriented education, the student changes from a teaching object to a subject. He/she actively shapes the course in exchange with other students and teachers and takes responsibility for his/her own learning process. Ideally, this results in a learning community. Within this community and with an appropriate learning environment, students are encouraged to develop competences that contribute to the ability to dialogue:

  •  listen to each other and reflect on their own and others' points of view equally
  •  learn from and with each other
  •  confront each other with respect and mutual appreciation
  •  confronting each other without prejudice and giving constructive feedback
  •  being aware of and contributing through ones own professional background, as well as question it
  •  to recognise differences
  •  to develop argumentative skills
  •  to strengthen normative judgement
  •  to promote critical thinking

Notes on the attitude of the teacher

  •  Understood as a learning guide, the teacher supports and navigates the students in their learning process.
  •  The relationship is seen as a group rather than a hierarchy.
  •  The teacher has authority over procedure, not necessarily content, and provides space for students to discuss ideas and concerns.
  •  The teacher sees him/herself as a kind of "midwife" in the sense of Socratic meeutics for the development of content and the acquisition of knowledge by the group.