Learning & teaching

Improving PROF-formance

Eithne Knappitsch

Eithne Knappitsch


Towards excellence in Teaching and Learning at Higher Educational Institutes

As the role and future of Higher Educational Institutes (HEIs) comes increasingly into the spotlight, is it time to rethink and reevaluate teaching and learning at HEIs?

The answer is obvious. In a fast-paced and highly uncertain environment like the one we’re currently living in, HEIs must respond to changing needs, reimagining education to best serve students and society. 

There has been a lot of discussion recently about HE, a global reset of education, and the need for post-pandemic education to radically transform to endure in an uncertain and changing world. 

A recent world economic forum article on the 4 trends that will shape the future of higher education (link) identifies four approaches that HEIs need to adopt in order to future-proof higher education:

  • Learning from everywhere
  • Replacing lectures with active learning
  • Teaching skills that remain relevant in a changing world
  • Using formative assessment instead of high-stake exams

The Global Case Study Challenge (GCSC), which is a future-oriented and high-impact global virtual teaching and learning program, embraces and embodies all these trends. But based on our experience with the GCSC I would add a fifth trend here:

  • Shared and synergetic networks of collaborative professional teaching and learning

Why this fifth trend? The pandemic accelerated collaboration and networking in all aspects of life, including education, and has proven a powerful tool for renewal and innovation. HEIs too need to continue to pursue much needed innovations in learning in teaching.

This was the focus of the June 16, 2022 Profformance conference ‘Spotlight on Higher Education Teaching Performance‘, which really pinpointed the value and relevance of collaborative professional teaching and learning.

Profformance is a collaborative  European Higher Education Area reform project aimed at enhancing the quality of teaching and learning at HEIs. The consortium partners, representing ministries of education and innovation from across central and eastern Europe, using peer-learning techniques:

  • have developed a 3D teacher performance assessment tool, 
  • are elaborating incentive systems to enhance higher education teacher’s performance,
  • have set up an international teaching excellence database, 
  • and have created an international teaching excellence award.

The Global Case Study Challenge team was honored to be awarded first place for international teaching excellence in the category Innovative Teaching and Learning.

Profformace award ceremony, from left to right: Eithne Knappitsch, Anna Zinenko and Alexander Kohler, a representative of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research

Blaázs hankó, Deputy Minister of State for Higher Education from the Ministry of Culture and Innovation (Hungary) described the uniqueness of this project

… for the first time it brings together HEIs from Central and Eastern Europe, Ministries, Erasmus+, Quality Assurance partners and European Student bodies. 

He discussed the need to invest in Higher Educational Institutions and especially in teaching and quality insurance in order to remain competitive. 

Alexander Kohler, a representative of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research emphasized the importance of the project and its high relevance for teaching and learning across HEIs. All of the speakers, including Lasha Margishvili (National Center for Educational Quality Enhancement, Georgia), Laura Sinóros-Szabó (Hungarian Ministry of Culture and Innovation), Tatjana Stanković (Foundation Tempus, Serbia) referred to the multidimensional and holistic approach to quality teaching and learning, highlighting the crucial relevance of staff development and didactic support for teachers, as well as the importance of sharing and learning from a diversity of experience from different contexts. 

The 3D teaching performance tool, which focuses on formative assessment and aims to contribute to a culture of quality teaching across HEIs, combines:

  • teacher self-assessment 
  • peer-to-peer assessment 
  • student assessment 

Alexander Kohler described this as a major achievement in illustrating the importance of teaching and training across HEIs, emphasizing the need for HEIs to have strategies to promote teaching, and highlighting the value of mutual exchange.

With the future trends of HE in mind and taking inspiration from the Profformance spotlight on teaching and learning in HEIs, it’s time to take stock of the (partially outdated) systems currently in place, to rethink, reevaluate and ideally reform – or better, transform – our teaching and learning practices. 

This requires a shift in our thinking towards more holistic, co-creative and collaborative forms of teaching and learning. This is one very valuable lesson we’ve learned from the pandemic.

Thank you to the Profformance coordinators and project partners: the Hungarian Ministry for Innovation and Technology, Tempus Public Foundation, Erasmus+,  Austrian Bundesministerium für Bildung, Wissenschaft und Forschung, Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, Czech Republic, Ministry of Science and Education, Croatia, National Center for Educational Quality Enhancement, Georgia and Foundation Tempus, Serbia.

Credit image:

Cover photo by Profformance, on a photo from left to right: Márton Beke (Tempus Public Foundation), Alexander Kohler (Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research, Austria), Vlatka Blažević (Ministry of Science and Education of the Republic of Croatia), Tereza Neumann-Kotásková (Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic), Lasha Margishvili (National Center for Educational Quality Enhancement, Georgia), Laura Sinóros-Szabó (Ministry of Culture and Innovation, Hungary), Tatjana Stanković (Foundation Tempus, Serbia) 

Innovation | Universities

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