International Classroom

Working in small tutorial groups with students of different origins and with different cultural backgrounds is of great added value to our small-scale problem-based learning (PBL) system. Students who are educated in the environment of an international classroom are better prepared to work in a rapidly internationalising and globalising labour market. The competences needed to work as a student or staff member in such international classrooms do however need to be developed and trained.

The International Classroom task force aims to address this issue. It is a community of practice bound together by shared expertise and passion for the development of intercultural communication skills among both students and staff. The task force consists of both support and academic staff members from all UM faculties and enables the sharing of best practices and experiences between disciplines and faculties.

Activities in the International Classroom are diverse, but all aim to contribute to four core goals:

(1) promote a culture of inclusion and respect, that is welcoming to all students irrespective of their cultural background;

(2) to prepare students for the global labour market;

(3) contribute to the internationalization strategy of Maastricht University in education and research;

(4) to develop support activities for staff and students (e.g. development of intercultural communication skills, coaching skills).

International Intended Learning Outcomes (IILOs)

About the project

This project addresses the way intended learning outcomes are anchored in PBL with a specific focus on how international and intercultural aspects can be given a more visible place in UM education. It aims to improve the explicit content of international intended learning outcomes in PBL.

  • An assessment of the current state of the art and perceived hurdles of International Intended Learning Outcomes at UM.
  • A guideline for course coordinators and teaching directors how to facilitate and achieve international intended learning outcomes in their classes.

Project period: May 2018 – January 2019

The project was evaluated positively, trainings are offered.

Together with several International Classroom (ICR) experts from different faculties, EDLAB has designed a workshop ‘How to run an international classroom’ for junior teaching staff, offered by EDLAB to faculties.

The International Classroom taskforce was responsible for the organization of the following events:

  • International classroom conference (October 2014, internal event for UM staff)
  • International classroom symposium (April 2016, part of the WUN conference)
  • A series of two workshops for UM staff members on the assessment of internationalised learning outcomes by Darla Deardorff (April 2016).

Several UM staff members involved with the International Classroom project have given presentations or workshops about the IC project at different (inter)national events:

  • Akkermans, B. & Claessens, S. (2014). Dealing with multinational student cohorts, workshop at UM International Classroom Conference, October 22, 2014.
  • Fonteijn, H. & Meershoek, A. (2014). Distance Learning and the International Classroom, workshop at UM International Classroom Conference, October 22, 2014.
  • Maurer, H. & Stevens, F. (2016). Measuring and evaluating the International Classroom ‘climate’. (Research-in-progress presentation held during the WUN international classroom symposium, April, 2016).
  • Swaan, W. (2014). International Classroom Competences: Experiences with an integral approach in SBE, workshop at UM International Classroom Conference, October 22, 2014.
  • Swaan, W. (2015). Workshop Docententraining “Omgaan met diversiteit in kleinschalig internationaal onderwijs”, SIETAR, Hogeschool van Utrecht, Juni 2015
  • Swaan, W. (2015). Integrating intercultural competencies into the curriculum of an international research university – a process of organizational development, International Academy of Intercultural Research, Bergen, June 2015
  • Swaan, W. (2015)., Een integrale benadering van International Classroom Development: Vaardigheidsontwikkeling bij staf en studenten, EP-NUFFIC Intenrnationalisation at Home Conference, Utrecht, November 2015
  • Fonteijn, H. (2016). The virtual international classroom, workshop held during the WUN international classroom symposium, April, 2016 (w/ Emilee Simmons, University of Leeds).
  • Vluggen, M. (2016). International classroom at Maastricht University, workshop held during ‘Internationalization at Zuyd’ inspiration session, October 2016.

Several UM staff members involved with the International Classroom project have published papers and policy documents on the topic of the international classroom:

  • Stevens, F. & Simmonds Goulbourne, J. (2014). Medical education, cultural competence in., Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Health, Illness, Behavior and Society
  • Swaan, W. (2012). Language and Inclusion in Diverse, International Organizations, Maastricht University.
  • Swaan, W. (2014). Ontwikkeling van de International Classroom binnen de School of Business and Economics van de Universiteit Maastricht (“International Classroom Development in the School of Business and Economics at Maastricht University), in: Adinda Van Gaalen, Hendrik Jan Hobbes, Sjoerd Roodenburg, Renate Gielesen, Studenten internationaliseren in eigen land (“Students’ Internationalisation at Home”), Nuffic, Den Haag, May, p.35-39.
  • Swaan, W. (2015). International Classroom Development: Implementation of an Integral Programme in Maastricht’s School of Business and Economics, Paper presented to the 14th IACCM Annual Conference (International Association for Cross-Cultural Management), Vienna, October 2015.

Taskforce Coordinator

Kai Jonas



Taskforce Members

Walter Jansen



Donna Carroll



Herco Fonteijn



Constance Sommerey


Albertine Zanting



Lianne Loosveld



Alvaro Garcia Fuentes



Christopher Pawley



Denise McAllister



Inken Gast



Marloes Menten