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 Advisory Board 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 is officially part of the institutional quality agreements since 2018. A special Global Citizenship Taskforce was 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.

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.

About the project

Today’s digital and technological developments, such as big data, fake news, and social media, have an impact on students’ learning process. An important element of teaching and learning in the 21st century therefore is information literacy — a set of complex and integrated skills that includes critical thinking, metacognitive thinking, problem solving, and self-regulated learning. These skills enable students to access, process, and assess data and information. At Maastricht University, students require structured support in dealing independently with (academic) information, and encouragement to develop creative and critical approaches when faced with complex questions and sources. Especially in a problem-based learning (PBL) environment, which advocates a self-directed and constructive approach toward learning and knowledge creation.

The project objective is to design an evidence-informed programme for information literacy at UM. The project is a collaboration between EDLAB and the University Library. All six UM faculties are involved in this project.
Project period: February 2019 – September 2020.


For more information or questions, contact Henrietta Hazen.

Contact Education Innovation

Walter Jansen



Stella Wasenitz