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Research and Education at Universities on Teacher Education in Switzerland

Background and aims

The pedagogical universities (PH) in Switzerland are requested to promote research in their institutions (quality development and principles for research ethics, qualifications of researchers, constitution of research focus) and to include it in the training/education (minimum standards of scientific knowledge for study courses, qualification of university lecturers). This combination is organized differently in the various institutions.


Within the framework of a current state analysis the project looks into the following key issues: Which aspects are crucial for existing concepts or strategies connecting research and education informally or formally? Which HR policy concepts and development perspectives do the pedagogical universities in Switzerland have? To what extent are the students at the PH involved in research? Based on this interpretation a result report was drawn up and presented to COHEP (Confèrence suisse des rectrices et recteurs des hautes écoles pédagogiques) as the initiator of the Project.


Individual expert interviews tried exploring the subjects of interest in the initial phase. 6 persons from different pedagogical universities in Switzerland were interviewed (HfH, PH Schaffhausen, PHZH, PH St. Gallen, University of Geneva). This prior assessment provided a basis for the development of a semi-constructed group interview. With 31 representatives of the „F&E" and „Education" committees of all pedagogical universities in Switzerland group interviews were run (handling of a liaison, qualification of the persons in F&E and in teaching, understanding research and education, involvement of the students in this liaison). Transcriptions and category-based analyses were done with these interviews in order to reconstruct four connection conceptions.


Universities of teacher education in Switzerland are at varying levels of development within the process of tertiarisation. This means that scientific focus varies from institution to institution. All institutional representatives consider it important to strive for a common “management, socialisation and application of research knowledge” (Bettoni, Bernhard & Schiller, 2009, p.130) in the two fields of research and teaching. The forms of connection between research and teaching can be described in four connection concepts: on the one hand side, there is the personal union, where both fields are united in one person (similar to the university model), on the other hand side, there are three connection concepts in which both fields are organisationally separated. In these concepts, the two fields exhibit, with gradual increments, the characteristics of more or less close collaboration and mutual benefit:

  • Connection concept loose connection – both areas have a loose connection. This form of connection is regarded as somewhat negative and can be understood as a transitional stage.
  • Connection concept enhanced mandate – this is when a transfer of knowledge from the field of research into the field of teaching and the occupational area takes place. Teaching is connected to research in order to communicate occupational problems as ideas for research (unidirectional). This connection concept also includes so-called teacher research where teacher's participate in research projects or initiate them themselves. This requires a qualification in research methods from the research side. Furthermore, the field of research not only facilitates the teacher's knowledge of research methods, but also that of the student's (method workshops). Most institutions employ a connection concept based on the enhanced mandate.
  • Connection concept collaboration – here people from both areas collaborate as a team and work together for a set period of time on a research project or module. The advantage of this concept lies in the cumulating of competencies and the continual transfer of knowledge; there is an exchange within the team where the generation of knowledge returns to both fields (circular).

There is a danger that varying expectations in the loose connection and enhanced mandate connection concepts may lead to the formation of a hierarchy; the field of research and development requires qualifications in the field of teaching, the reverse is rarely the case.


  • Häfeli, Kurt & Audeoud, Mireille (2012). Verbindung von Forschung und Lehre an Schweizer Pädagogischen Hochschulen. Formation et pratiques d'enseignement en questions,14, 27-35.
  • Häfeli, Kurt & Audeoud, Mireille (2012). Lien entre la recherche et l'enseignement dans les Hautes écoles pédagogiques suisses. Formation et pratiques d'enseignement en questions, 14, 27-35.



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Forschung und Entwicklung
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