Aarhus Universitets segl

Teaching for Meaningful Learning
– Innovative teaching frameworks for a better future

Teaching is central to the university’s mission as it is the vehicle by which new generations of students become equipped to be citizens of the future. University education has increasingly become of interest to national governments whose policies have focused on standardisation and accreditation, the ‘usefulness’ of a degree, teaching for a knowledge society, for relevance and employability, etc. 

This project draws on data from a decade of research in higher education teaching and seeks to describe and provide suggestions for how learning can become meaningful in order to support a new generation of students to become proactive democratic citizens. When learning is meaningful it is related to a holistic process, embedded in the individual, socially connected, and founded in a strong knowledge base.

Inspired by research into entrepreneurship education where a broad vision of value creation is foundational, this project seeks to map and pioneer innovative teaching frameworks that result in meaningful learning. 


The research is essentially ethnographic, although a variety of novel qualitative research methods have been tested, e.g. think-aloud protocol, learning journal reflections, drawings using metaphors, and digital social learning tools. 

The follow-up research in the humanities has been strongly linked to notions of the role and purpose of the university and to philosophical questions about student being and becoming as humans. Furthermore, the project engages with student-centred learning  and identity development both professionally and socially that is strongly linked to authentic practices. 

Therefore, there is both a conceptual and empirical basis in this research that explores ways to strengthen the purpose and role of the modern university both philosophically and practically.


This project seeks to;

  • support teaching faculty interested in developing their teaching in higher education,
  • demonstrate opportunities for meaningful learning within academic communities,
  • link student learning to societal challenges and issues,
  • take a cross-disciplinary stance on how innovative pedagogies can be designed,
  • offer potential frameworks for structuring didactic designs firmly rooted in disciplinary concepts and methods,
  • suggest ways in which to strengthen dialogue and reflection among faculty on teaching.

Read more

  • Robinson, S. Thestrup, K. & Shumar, W. (2021) Creating experimenting communities for the future university In S. Bengtsen, S. Robinson & W. Shumar (eds.) The Becoming university; Perspectives from Philosophy and Social Theory Springer
  • Robinson, S. (2020) Ethnography for engaging students with higher education and societal issues in C. Wieser and A. Pilch Ortega (eds.) Ethnography in Higher Education Springer pp. 93-110
  • Shumar, W. & Robinson, S. (2019) Agency, risk-taking and identity in entrepreneurship education Journal of Philosophy and Theory in Higher Education 1 (3) Peter Lang 153-174
  • Shumar, W. & Robinson, S. (2018) Universities as Societal Drivers: Entrepreneurial Interventions for a Better Future In S. Bengtsen & R. Barnett (eds.) The Thinking University A Philosophical Examination of Thought and Higher Education Springer pp. 31-46
  • Shumar, W. and Robinson, S. (2018) Rethinking the Entrepreneurial University for the 21st Century. In Peters, M. A., & Barnett, R. (eds.), The Idea of the University: Volume 2 – Contemporary Perspectives. Peter Lang pp. 78-94
  • Günzel-Jensen, F. & Robinson, S. (2017) Effectuation in the undergraduate classroom: Three barriers to entrepreneurial learning Journal of Education and Training 59 (3) 234-249
  • Robinson, S., Neergaard, H., Tanggaard, L. & Krueger, N. (2016) New horizons in entrepreneurship education; from teacher-led to student-centered learning Journal of Education and Training 58 (7/8) 661-683
  • Thestrup, K. & Robinson, S. (2016) Towards an entrepreneurial mindset; Empowering learners in an open laboratory In P. Papadopolous, R. Burger & A. Faria (eds.) Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Education Vol. 2 Emerald pp. 147-168