Implementing Bologna Process: Taking into Account What Students Think and Improving Professor’s Performance in Class

19 Pages Posted: 13 May 2011

See all articles by Fernando Diez

Fernando Diez

University of Antonio de Nebrija

Date Written: November 1, 2010


All the so-called “Bologna-process” is paying close attention to many important things regarding High School / University education, such as skills, competences, new research trends, TICs, accreditation and quality assurance, etc. However - to our understanding- is overlooking at least two crucial issues: what students think about University, and how professors achieve excellence in their classes.

As to the first topic, although the students are to play a key role in the new European Higher Education Area, and are supposed to be placed at the very centre of the teaching-learning process, however, no schemes are developed yet to hear them, and - whenever necessary or convenient - take their opinions into account. The starting point is asking what makes college an academically and personally successful time for some students but not others. The methodology is conducting interviews and visiting various campuses. The results are, to say the least, pretty counter-intuitive, and to some point somehow astonishing. For example, we learn that students are more enthusiastic about learning in courses that have some relevance to their personal lives or interests outside the classroom, instead of just fulfilling a graduation requirement. Or that students learn more when they collaborate on challenging homework rather than performing their assigned tasks individually.

As to the second topic, closely linked to the previous one, much has been said about quality in research, few - in anything - has been written about what makes a class, a team-work, a group discussion or a lecture given by a professor a unique experience. Basically, the point here is, simply, what makes a great teacher great? Who are the professors students remember long after graduation? Drawing on the experiences and techniques of a number of college and university professors who are commonly known as “good professors”, the short answer it’s not what teachers do, it’s what they understand. Lesson plans and lecture notes matter less than the special way teachers comprehend the subject and value human learning. It doesn’t matter whether they’re historians or physicists, or whether they teach in Harvard or somewhere else, the best teachers know their subjects inside and out. But they also know how to engage and challenge students and to provoke impassioned responses. Most of all, they believe two things fervently: that teaching matters and that students can learn.

Finally, we offer some practical recommendations on the issues discussed above, departing from the typical “college guides” full of seemingly good advice that is too vague to implement.

Keywords: Bologna, European Higher Education Area, TIC’s, learning process

JEL Classification: I20, I21, I29

Suggested Citation

Diez, Fernando, Implementing Bologna Process: Taking into Account What Students Think and Improving Professor’s Performance in Class (November 1, 2010). Available at SSRN: or

Fernando Diez (Contact Author)

University of Antonio de Nebrija ( email )

Campus de la Berzosa
Hoyo de Manzanares
Madrid, 28420


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