Professor Ricarda Schmidt

Research-led learning

Name Professor Ricarda Schmidt
Email Ricarda.Schmidt@exeter.ac.uk
Position Professor in German
College

College of Humanities

Engaging and developing students as researchers and independent, critical thinkers

Ricarda Schmidt’s research interests are in German literature from around 1800, but also in the fields of intermediality, gender studies, 20th century German literature and German film.

Ricarda always works to engage her students with her research so they can expand their knowledge of German literature, but also so they can develop their analytical skills. “I first try and equip them [students] with the basics [of a text] via a lecture and via targeted reading”, says Ricarda. “What I then do is try and draw students’ attention to how the debate in secondary literature has developed.” As a starting point, “I invite them to read diametrically opposed views and argue, on the basis of their knowledge of the text, how they can make a case for one or the other, or a third position.” Thanks to the University library’s digital collection, a lot of the reading material is available to everyone “at a click of a button.” For essays, Ricarda provides her students with an extended reading list and argues that going beyond the lecture is essential for achieving a 2:1 grade or higher.

Standing on the shoulders of giants

However, it is also very important for students to know how they can expect to develop academically. As Ricarda comments, “Sometimes students get a bit worried about what is required of them…I always say,…[just because]…a story…has been around for 200 years and has been interpreted by countless people, it doesn’t mean that you [the student] have got to think up something that nobody has ever thought about.”

Describing the learning process as “standing on the shoulders of giants”, Ricarda explains that it is more about students reading important work that has been done on a text and examining it critically, based on their knowledge of that text. Students should not be “overawed by a critic. These critics have spent a lot of time [on a text and]…are specialists,…but the essays are sometimes ten, twenty, thirty years old and things have moved on. So, with the help of hindsight you can get that little bit further. It’s exciting when you engage with what the best people in the profession have done and, yet, be able to say ‘ah, this was of their time.’” This way, students develop “their originality…and…hone their critical thinking.”

 

Aim 3: Research-inspired, inquiry-led learning

To extend the opportunities for students to learn in innovative ways through their own research and inquiry in each year of study

Engaging students through research-led learning

"I invite [students] to read diametrically opposed views and argue...how they can make a case for one or the other, or a third position.".

Developing students as researchers

Students develop “their originality…and…hone their critical thinking."

Using podcasts to bring research to the wider world

"Any students anywhere in the world...[can]...get...an introduction to him".