Ars Docendi Shortlist for Excellent Teaching at TU Graz

Andreas-Nizar Granitzer and Franz Tschuchnigg with Federal Minister of Education
Andreas-Nizar Granitzer and Franz Tschuchnigg with Federal Minister of Education Martin Polaschek (from left to right) after the award ceremony in Vienna. Image source: Martin Lusser
By Philipp Jarke

Franz Tschuchnigg and Andreas-Nizar Granitzer have holistically optimised the course "Computational Geotechnics" and received the Ars Docendi Recognition Award in the category "Quality Improvement of Teaching and Studyability".

Since 1990 - at that time still under the course title "Nichtlineare Stoffgesetze in der Geotechnik" - students at Graz University of Technology have been acquiring fundamental skills for solving geotechnical problems independently using numerical calculation methods.

Franz Tschuchnigg and Andreas-Nizar Granitzer from the Institute of Soil Mechanics, Foundation Engineering and Computational Geotechnics used the challenges in teaching associated with the pandemic as an opportunity to holistically revise the concept of the course in order to provide the traditionally heterogeneous group of students with a high-quality learning experience despite the unfamiliar framework conditions.

Inspired by international best practice examples, time-tested and innovative elements of university didactics were brought together in a novel teaching concept. This has helped to ensure a large number of active participants. Three years later, the lecture with integrated exercise has become an Austria-wide showcase in university teaching - this achievement has now been recognised with the Ars Docendi Recognition Award 2023 in the category "Quality improvement of teaching and studyability". It should be emphasised that this teaching project was the only course of TU Austria - consisting of TU Graz, TU Vienna and MU Leoben - to receive an award. The Altas of Good Teaching provides an overview of the measures implemented.

Appreciation by the jury: "attractive and competence-oriented"

"The teaching project offers a very good example of how a mandatory course with difficult content, which is intended to reach a wider and at the same time heterogeneous target audience, can be designed in an attractive and competence-oriented way for students," the jury praised the course. "The combination of the different elements of the course is well comprehensible. Different learning levels are specifically taken into account, and talents are encouraged. It is particularly impressive how the different countries of origin of the students are employed productively for the teaching."