Fostering Active Learning in an International Joint Classroom: A Case Study


  • Stefanie Griebel University of Göttingen
  • Angelika Thielsch University of Göttingen
  • Paul Gibson Makerere University
  • Tanja Reiffenrath University of Göttingen
  • Timothy Beissinger University of Göttingen
  • Albert Chiteka Makerere University



joint classroom, formative assessment, retrieval practice, active learning, international plant breeding


Engaging students in an international online setting that is interdisciplinary and culturally diverse is a challenge. A joint classroom between German and Ugandan universities used a formative assessment approach paired with active learning elements to foster individual and peer learning in an international virtual setting. A survey at three different times across the semester explored students’ perceptions towards the value of the active learning activities and evaluated how perceptions changed over time. Overall, students enjoyed the diverse active learning activities and perceived value toward their success in class. This was more pronounced and unidirectional for individual tasks than it was for group work. In addition to the findings of the structured survey, observation and feedback indicated that other elements contributed to effective course delivery. These included clear and frequent communication to the students from the primary instructor, prompt feedback from the instructor on graded exercises, such as a reflective learning diary and ungraded quizzes, and student confidence that sincere effort would achieve a good grade.


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Author Biographies

Stefanie Griebel, University of Göttingen

Stefanie Griebel has a PhD in plant breeding and genetics. As a post-doc in the faculty of agricultural sciences at the University of Göttingen (DEU), she majorly developed and implemented the described university course with Paul Gibson and Albert Chiteka.

Angelika Thielsch, University of Göttingen

Angelika Thielsch, PhD in educational sciences, works in the section for teaching and learning in higher education at University of Göttingen (DEU). Her research focus is learning and identity, international higher education, and technology-enhanced learning.

Paul Gibson, Makerere University

Paul Gibson has a PhD in plant breeding, with additional specialisation in biometry. He works as senior scientist and professor in the regional graduate program for plant breeders at Makerere University in Kampala (UGA).

Tanja Reiffenrath, University of Göttingen

Tanja Reiffenrath coordinates the curricula’s internationalisation at the University of Göttingen (DEU) and is the chair of the expert community “Internationalisation at Home” of the European Association for International Education.

Timothy Beissinger, University of Göttingen

Timothy Beissinger is professor and chair of the Division of Plant Breeding Methodology at University of Göttingen (DEU). His teaching includes plant/animal breeding, quantitative genetics, evolutionary theory, population genetics, and more.

Albert Chiteka, Makerere University

Albert Chiteka has a PhD in plant breeding. He worked as a senior scientist in the regional graduate program for plant breeders at Makerere University in Kampala (UGA).


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A graphic depicting students interacting from various locations around the world.




How to Cite

Griebel, Stefanie, Angelika Thielsch, Paul Gibson, Tanja Reiffenrath, Timothy Beissinger, and Albert Chiteka. 2022. “Fostering Active Learning in an International Joint Classroom: A Case Study”. Teaching and Learning Inquiry 10 (November).