INSA First Cycle:
A German Perspective

field report of 5 years studying in Berlin, 2 years teaching in Lyon




  • I studied physics, not teaching
  • I have very little insight into what happens in French Secondary Schools
  • I know French University lectures only as a guest (and from teaching)

1994: Primary School

2000: Secondary School

2007: University (Berlin)

2013: PhD School (Marseille)

2014: PhD School (Lyon)

2015: Teaching (INSA Lyon)

(Gymnasium: diploma Abitur)

My Observations

teaching Informatics in PCC 1/2

  • I find it difficult to engage students in a debate.
  • I find it difficult to establish good working practices:
    • mutual support, mutual respect among students
    • thinking/reading before writing (coding)
    • academic curiosity vs. doing the bare minimum
    • learning by logical reasoning vs. repetition
    • extracting/synthesizing and note taking
  • I find it difficult to adapt to the students’ needs

Cette jeunesse est pourrie depuis le fond du cœur. Les jeunes sont malfaisants et paresseux. Ils ne seront jamais comme la jeunesse d’autrefois. Ceux d’aujourd’hui ne seront pas capables de maintenir notre culture.

Sources: Français, Deutsch

– inscription babylonienne (plus de 3000 av.J-C)

Nous donnons à des élèves, de moins en moins aptes à le recevoir, un enseignement de moins en moins propre à leur être communiqué. Nous avons aujourd’hui des élèves dont le plus grand nombre nous arrive de leurs familles mal préparés à étudier de manière littéraire la langue […].

–  Gustave LANSON, » La crise des méthodes dans l’enseignement du français « (1909)

Studying in German Universities

Photo: Heike Zappe (cc by-sa 3.0)

Photo: Timtom/Flickr (cc by-nc-sa)

Preconditions to Enrol


testifies Hochschulreife, german for: higher education entrance qualification or

matriculation standard

Matriculation Standard

(educational objective)

  1. common knowledge/expertise
  2. “formal skills” (soft skills)
    • extension and differenciation of learning ability
    • distinguishing essential from negligible matters
    • discussion and intuition
    • collaborative cooperating
    • dialectical argueing, reasoning, expressing of view
    • critical ability (ger.: Kritikfähigkeit)

School Education Practice

  • incentive to ask questions (graded!)
  • accepted to interrupt monologue of professors at school (and some university lectures)
  • soft skill training days in secondary school
  • many presentations in front of class
  • flipped classroom & mutual teaching/learning in groups
  • school finishes early afternoon; facultative activities then
  • students study (or not) in the afternoon on their own

Teacher Formation



  • dedicated, compulsory studies for primary/secondary school teachers (two subjects + pedagogy + internships)

Higher Education Practice

  • heavy reforms to introduce Bachelor/Master degrees
  • students have few hard constrains:
    • succeed examens to receive ECTS points for a module
    • have enough ECTS points and a valid module combination to receive degree
  • students may attend lectures and seminars
  • students may work part-time to earn their living

Modular University System

many exceptions apply

Higher Education Practice

  • students are supposed to work with high autonomy
  • optional lectures/seminars
    (exceptions: e.g. hands-on seminars, experiments)
  • skipping poor lectures in favour for studying from books is common practice
  • teaching is rated by all students (implicit and explicit)
  • students have principally a lot of choice
    (may/shall attend lectures of other domains)
  • no obligation for sports or languages

Autonomous Studies




  • self-development
  • student decides how much time is needed when on which topic
  • follow own curiosity
  • ownership

Personalisation of Studies

  • student have to enage in studies pro-actively
  • students may be overcharged by responsability and fail

of Studies

Motivation Factors

= impression of



= valuation of study matter

= controllability

Generation Y / Z

  • first generations considered as Digital Natives
  • life time goals shift allegedly from social status and prestige towards freedom for self-realisation, flat hierachies at work, balance between life and work

(definition disputed, varies regionally)

One could imagine

  • those first generations have work under conditions after the 4th industrial revolution of Big Data
  • must adapt rapidly to disruptions of the labour market


More Autonomy may have the potential to solve pressing issues:

  • improves student motivation
  • improved personalisation and equity of studies
  • strengthens self-development
  • freedom to engage in the civic society

Conclusions (II)

If students are not autonomous, the pedagogy becomes more important.


Teachers/professors shall have extensive

training in pedagogy.

(INSA: After I taught already for one semester, I got offered a training on pedagogy of half a day. That is all.)

These Slides Online

Going Further

Thank you for your interest.


I have two!

Why don't

  1. remove obligation to attend lectures/seminars where possible?
  2. allow students to choose "class" per course per semester?

INSA Experience Report

By Robert Riemann

INSA Experience Report

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