Instructional Design

Within a rapidly changing global context problem-based instructional methods should be of adaptive and flexible nature in order to depart from problems that connect well to contemporary and future global issues. On an output level this theme emphasises problem-based learning and transferable skills development. The EDLAB Steering Group Education Innovation sets the horizon for projects and other activities. These will lead us to new insights referring to instructional design and evidence based practices we can build upon in the near future.


Problem-Based Learning (PBL) is the common didactic method at Maastricht University. PBL is based on the principle that a learning process should be constructive, self-directed and contextual. During the learning process, student’s competences such as self-directed learning, problem-solving, knowledge application, analytical thinking and critical reflection are trained. In addition, students learn to work as well as perform research independently. In the final period of their programme, students are required to write a thesis.

Research Skills

About the project

The training and development of research skills are crucial to any UM student in order to successfully graduate from the institution and pursue an academic, but also professional career. Currently, between and within faculties a large variety of didactic models, (non-)PBL applications and ideas for learning trajectories exists when it comes to apprehend research skills.

This project captures and analyses the quality of these differences and addresses good practices of research skills (including critical thinking, writing and argumentation, information literacy and retention and data/source collection and selection). Furthermore, it reflects on the possibilities to align research skills within curricula so research skills are trained in an integrated manner. A co-authored handbook has been developed which provides information for teachers about PBL and research skills education which can lead to improved quality of education within and across faculties. In the summer of 2017, EDLAB published a downloadable version of this handbook. Also an online library guide has been developed.

Problem-Based Learning (PBL) is Maastricht University’s main educational method. Within the PBL setting, Step 6 of the 7-step method – Self-study – is the step where students have to take the responsibility to properly prepare for the post-discussion. However, UM students (primarily first year students) often lack knowledge about the use of effective self-study methods. Evidence shows that there is a need to increase attention to and practice with effective learning strategies.

About the project

Evidence shows that students often lack knowledge about effective learning strategies. This project highlights three stages in which students should be confronted with their learning strategies and study-skills: 1) raising awareness (learn about effective learning strategies), 2) increasing self-reflection in students (learn which strategies are used and how to make them more effective), and 3) practice (internalise the effective strategies through repeated use and feedback). In March 2017, Associate Professor Anique de Bruin has received a Comenius grant from The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) for research proposal of this project. This project started in the first quarter of 2017 and will be finished in 2019.


Intended deliverables

  • Define faculty specific and UM-general SRL outcomes for UM students;
  • Training modules:
    • Designing a core training of learning strategies, focused on awareness of effective learning strategies;
    • Designing a core training of learning strategies, focused on reflection on effective learning strategies;
    • Designing a core training of learning strategies, focused on practicing tailored effective learning strategies;
  • Adapting the core training to fit faculty-specific needs and wants; this also includes identifying the training can be implemented into academic programmes;
  • Measuring effect of the SRL training on student’s academic achievement;
  • Developing training of trainers who will roll out the training within their academic programmes.

About the project

At Maastricht University, a group of teachers and students has been probing how we can boost Global Citizenship Education (GCE) and social engagement. Through this project we aimed to find an holistic approach to global citizenship education that targets students, teachers, the institution, and community stakeholders. In this project we focussed on:

  • Reflection on the nature of global citizenship, and internal communication of what it is and why it is desirable;
  • Introduction of novel ways of teaching and assessing (aspects of) global citizenship in curricula, and training teachers to teach and model global citizenship themselves;
  • Supporting service and community-based learning and recognizing activities that help students to develop global citizenship competencies.


Continuation of the project:
Global Citizenship will officially be part of the institutional quality agreements as of the summer of 2018. A special Global Citizenship Taskforce will be set up to make sure that UM will attain the goals that are formulated in the institutional ambitions.

Global Citizenship Education is a form of civic learning which focusses on empowering learners to acquire understanding, skills, and values needed to cooperate in resolving the globally interconnected social, economic, political, environmental challenges of the 21st century.

Project Group

The Global Citizenship project group is composed of teachers from all UM faculties. In addition, EDLAB has involved a student panel with students from international student organizations in Maastricht. The student panel contributes to the project by giving input about GCE from a student perspective.

Global Citizenship Education Symposium

On 1 March 2018, EDLAB organized the Global Citizenship Education Symposium at the Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience. During this engaging event, organized for UM staff, students, and community stakeholders, project leader Herco Fonteijn shared insights, about how to address Global Citizenship Education in UM education in a meaningful way.

The symposium continued with an inspiring panel discussion with international, national, and local community stakeholders including Marieke Brugman (UNESCO), Mardoeka Christensen (Traject), Kate Roberston (One Young World), and Roos van Amstel (de Bildung Academie).

In addition, interactive design thinking sessions were organized, which triggered co-creation between UM staff, students, and community stakeholders.

About the project

To improve as a team, it is important to evaluate and share information about the different situations and processes faced by the team on a regular basis. This is called feedback.

To stimulate feedback within the group, a team of students that participated in PREMIUM, Maastricht University’s Excellence programme, and the Cube design museum designed Feedbackᶾ. Feedbackᶾ is a set of 7 cubes that will help make your team feedback session easier, more natural and fun! Each of the cubes addresses a topic that should be addressed when talking about team process. Each cube has 6 statements written on them, which will provide a baseline for discussion.

Information Literacy is the set of integrated abilities encompassing the reflective discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued, and the use of information in creating new knowledge and participating ethically in communities of learning.

About the project

Today’s immense load information, in a wide variety of forms, asks students to acquire and apply a broad set of competences (e.g. critical thinking, metacognitive skills, problem-solving, and digital skills) to steer their way through this “information jungle”. Information literacy skills education is particularly important in the philosophy of problem-based learning (PBL), which strongly advocates self-directed learning. Ideally, following the PBL philosophy, student actively learn how to identify what additional information they need in order to solve a problem or question, where to find information as well as well as how to evaluate information sources to solve the problem.


  • Get an in-depth and comprehensive understanding of the issues UM students and teachers face regarding information literacy skills development.
  • Develop a coherent and blended information and digital literacy programme with generic and discipline-specific modules in which students from all faculties will gain knowledge about, practice, and receive feedback on their information literacy skills.
  • Piloting and constructively aligning new information-literacy modules in different faculty courses to evaluate the effectiveness. This means also increasing didactic support and developing training material (e.g. a blueprint) for teaching staff guiding them to integrate information literacy within faculty curricula.


Intended deliverables

The project intends to achieve three deliverables:

  • An assessment of the current state of information literacy skills at UM;
  • An information literacy programme for students, with online modules that are both generic and discipline specific.
  • Teacher-trainer programme and material


Project period: February 2019 – June 2020

Steering Group Education Innovation

EDLAB is represented by one liaison in every UM faculty, and in the UM library. Linked to EDLAB liaisons are the faculty Vice-Deans of Education, who also take active part in the education innovation process. Together with the EDLAB Innovation Coordinators, they form the Steering Group Education Innovation.





Rina Vaatstra



Arie van der Lugt



Jonathan van Tilburg



Jan Nijhuis



Gaby Lutgens



Walter Jansen



Julie de Ronde