EDvance | Research

Advancing good practices in blended or technology-assisted PBL

Envisioning the future of education at Maastricht University (UM), we combine the knowledge gained from UM’s 45 years of problem-based learning (PBL) with the lessons learnt from the present, digital age – we arrive at good educational practices to inform our future education at UM in a blended setting. Recognizing UM’s calibre as an innovative research university, these best practices will be strengthened by scientific evidence to ensure future-proofing.

The 2018 EDview position paper emphasized that, at its very core, PBL is based on the principles of constructive, collaborative, contextual and self-directed learning (CCCS). In more recent times, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has accelerated the adoption of diverse educational delivery approaches within UM, e.g., online, hybrid, and blended education. The increasing blended educational opportunities introduced important elements that are crucial to consider, for example, educational activities, student engagement and well-being, the teaching staff support structure, and the appropriate use of technology. Looking to the future of education at UM, digital approaches can be one of the means that safekeeps the CCCS principles, in the overarching goal of achieving optimal design, delivery, and assessment of blended or technology-assisted PBL.

What is EDvance?

EDvance is a one-year research project, based at EDLAB. The team aims to collect and synthesize good practices to answer the question What is the optimal setting for blended or technology-assisted PBL and how do we achieve this setting within the CCCS principles?” Good practices will be collected from the UM community as well as through national and international universities. And, by backing up these findings with evidence-based literature, this project will recalibrate EDview’s position paper from 2018 to today’s challenges and tomorrow’s changes.

Two researchers will execute the one-year project, supervised by EDLAB staff.

What are our methods?

The EDvance research project is divided into two parts.

Part 1 – Rapid Review

We are conducting a rapid review with an in-depth systematic approach of scientific literature to compile evidence-based best practices of blended or technology-assisted PBL. Part 1 will provide a theoretical framework based on the CCCS principles to inform the interpretation of good practices, simultaneously collected in Part 2.

Part 2 – Participatory Action Research

Using qualitative methods such as semi-structured interviews and focus groups, we collect good practices from a selective yet diverse and representative sample. Directors, educators and students from within the UM, as well as our international network, will be approached for their valuable input. Data collection will be intentionally selective, following a snowball-sampling principle, to provide a focused and informed strategy for education.

We will conduct:

  • Semi-structured interviews with vice-deans of education, educational experts and innovators
  • Focus groups with program directors, course coordinators and student representatives

What are the deliverables?

We will compile a report on good educational practices, both from scientific literature and from practice. We hope to inform, inspire and support the UM community for optimal design, delivery and assessment of blended or technology-assisted PBL.

In addition, the knowledge will be disseminated via a symposium, with workshops tailored for each stakeholder group.

Research team

H.Q. Chim

Background in Psychology and Business Studies. Recently finished her PhD in physical activity behavior and learning, from the School of Health Professions Education (SHE) at UM.

Anne van Dijk

Background in Health sciences and developmental psychology. Experience in research projects on medical education and educational psychology at the UM and Open University.


Erik Driessen

Professor of medical Education at the department of Educational development and Research at FHML.

Jeroen Kooman

Internist-nephrologist at Maastricht UMC+ and director of EDLAB