Welcome to the website of Quintessence, a research team consisting of six students from the Technical University of Munich (TUM), trying to examine the possibility of improving the commonly prevalent lecture environment for students by means of changing the structure of the setting, in which these are held. The aim is to develop methods for a smoother and more comfortable and thought-inspiring lecture, that can be applied independently from the specific lecture subject or lecturer.

On this webpage we hope to keep you apprised of our progress throughout the project phase.

The Team

Daniel Frey, Information Management Officer

 

Simon Gandorfer, IT-Officer

 

Sophia Hasbach, Public Relations Officer

I'm in the 4th semester of my sports science studies. 

Dennis Huber, Team Connections and Communications Officer

 

Saskia Hutschenreiter, BOM-Representative

 

Jonas Papazoglou-Hennig, Project Leader

“I’m a second-year student currently studying mathematics at TUM. In addition to having followed many lectures up to now, I also started to work as a tutor very early on. As a student, I have very often been on the receiving end of sentences such as don’t bother with the lectures, they’re not worth it, just go to the exercises,… My hope is that our project will help to create a better and more productive lecture environment for fellow students and thus make lectures more attractive, since it is my conviction that they are an integral part of the learning process.”

Our Supervisors and Tutor

We are extremely grateful for the support TUM: Junge Akademie has given us in the form of two highly experienced supervisors:

  • Dr. Susanne Witzgall, Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Head of cx centre for interdisciplinary studies
  • Prof. Dr. Hans Förstl, Klinik und Poliklinik für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie (TUM)

Their input has been invaluable to the work our team does, providing us with guidance, ideas and warnings of common pitfalls at every important step of the project.

We also greatly appreciate the support from out tutor, Sebastian Kaltenbach, who is accompanying our process very closely and makes sure the project goes along smoothly.

Hypothesis, Goal and Research Question

The first steps of our project, when our team first met in November 2018, consisted of a first phase of preliminary research, in order to figure out how we want to proceed. It culminated in the formulation of our goal and research question, which we want to investigate during this 20-month scholarship.

After as short as 15 minutes of a higher mental strain, humans start to exhibit measurable signs of attention loss and distraction. We found this to be at odds with most of the common lecture formats at TUM, which are generally laid out into 90-minute lecture blocks, with no break in between.

That is why we want to improve the individually perceived attentiveness of TUM-students in university lectures by 2020. As such our project consists of an implementation component, but we are simultaneously investigating a corresponding research question, namely: How could an implementable concept be constructed such as to cause an overall improvement in the individually perceived attentiveness of TUM students during university lectures?

The Project

Our Project has been categorized into four phases, which all highlight different aspects of implementation and research in trying to conceptualize a valid solution in response to our set goal.

The research phase is where we are aiming to bundle all the preliminary research relevant to our research question into a readable, concise and compact piece of documentation. In addition, we are seeking to perform two case studies at other universities, who have either already implemented a solution answering to the problem of attention loss in lectures, or a different schedule and structure of lectures altogether.

Phase 2 will be spent on planning our implementation. The general idea is to compare different types of breaks in lectures, 5 minutes in length and with different kinds of stimulations for the participants (e.g. light physical exercises). We will also put a great deal of work into designing a system to evaluate the degree of success our solution would have (most likely through a survey, along with measurements of light, sound, oxygen-levels, etc).

In Phase 3 it will finally be the time to put our ideas into practice and roll out our implementation concept in chosen lectures. Meanwhile, we shall be collecting data to evaluate the measures we put in place. This will allow us to take our time and interpret the results and, if indeed successful, make a recommendation for future use of our concept in other lectures at TUM.

Finally Phase 4 will be used for tying up loose ends, i.e. creating a final project documentation with all our results, to be published in the TUM: Junge Akademie yearbook 2020.

Structure and Deliverables

As a team we have, in deliberation with our tutor, decided, that a rigid Project Structure Plan is not fully beneficial for a team of our size and the flexibility required in our work. Instead, we solely structure in time (see under “The Project”) and corresponding milestones, especially deliverables. An overview of these is pictured below.

Current Activities

  • Creation of final research documentation
  • Planning meetings with partner universities for case studies