MSc⁺ Courses

  • Date 
    April 6, 2020
    Application Deadline 
    March 15, 2020
Course fee
  • € 750
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Problem & Project Based Learning, A Critical Appraisal

“We need good research on task-centered learning environments to go beyond traditional PBL and make the best use of new technologies.”

Jeroen van Merriënboer, Programme Coordinator

Fast facts


  • 6-week online course, advanced level. Study load: approx. 1day/week
  • Strongly oriented on research and the latest developments in task-centered learning environments
  • Particularly relevant for candidates in health professions education with a strong research orientation
Programme information

Are you responsible for a (re)design of an educational program in medical or paramedical professions and strive to make your decisions evidence-based? Are you involved in an educational research project and want to ask the right questions and design better research? Are you preparing for a PhD project in (para)medical education, or just started it? If your answer any of these questions is yes, then you need to be up to date on recent developments in research in your field. Health professions education is moving more and more from traditional learning environments to more realistic tasks employing new technologies, such as high-fidelity simulations or virtual patient encounters in e-learning environments. However, this transition is not straightforward. Good research is necessary to find evidence for what works and what does not. As an educational designers or researchers, you need to be aware of this evidence and the state of the art in educational research.

World-renowned educational researcher and founder of the 4C/ID model Jeroen van Merriënboer and his team of experts will take you to the cutting edge of the research on task-centered learning. Over the course of 6 weeks, you explore the horizons in your research domain, and learn to critically read and analyze publications for a deeper understanding of the research on task-centered learning. You will acquire a broad understanding of topics such as adaptive learning, self-regulation skills, simulations, and visual expertise, and will delve deeper into topics relevant for your own context. In addition, you will practice academic skills such as locating, retrieving, and reviewing essential literature and collaborating with your peers in assessing the quality of research designs and journal articles. In several synchronous online sessions, you will discuss your assignments with your peers and with the experts.

Task-Centered Learning Environments, SHE Maastricht University


By the end of the course you will have an overview of the domain of task-centered learning environments, and in-depth knowledge of recent developments and existing gaps in the domain related to your own interest. This knowledge will make you better prepared for your research project, or help you make better design decisions when designing your educational program.

  • Acquiring a broad understanding of research topics in the domain of task-centered learning environments
  • Acquiring in-depth knowledge of recent developments in research on specific topics in the domain of task-centered learning environments
  • Learning to find and retrieve essential scientific literature in your domain
  • Learning to critically read and evaluate scientific literature in your domain
  • Learning to critically evaluate research designs
  • Learning how to determine gaps of knowledge: questions in a research domain that are not yet (fully) investigated or answered
  • Communicate and collaborate internationally with peer (PhD) researchers 

Research on Task-Centered Learning, SHE Maastricht University

Learners profile

This course is for you, if:

  • You are involved in (re)designing education for medical professions or paramedical professions (e.g., dietetics, dentistry, physiotherapy, etc.);
  • You are a researcher or PhD student involved in a research project on medical or paramedical education;
  • You are otherwise highly interested in research on task-centered learning environments in health professions education.

Note that this is not a beginner’s course on learning theory, four-component instructional design (4C/ID), or research. It is an advanced course focusing on cutting edge research. You are expected to have the following prior knowledge:

  • You have a working knowledge of the research cycle: identifying a problem, studying literature, formulating research questions and hypotheses, collecting and analyzing data and reporting results;
  • You can distinguish common types of quantitative and qualitative research, such as survey research, (quasi)experimental research, correlational research, case studies, etc.;
  • You are familiar with basic principles of learning theories such as cognitivism, behaviorism, or constructivism;
  • You are able to explain and support educational design choices using theoretical concepts from these learning theories;
  • You are able to write basic research proposals for evaluating an educational design in health professions education.
Admission requirements

You have a higher education degree equivalent to a Dutch Master’s degree in one of the health professions, such as a master’s degree in medicine, health sciences, educational sciences, psychology or any related discipline.

You have sufficient English proficiency and must have adequate and active command of English (in speech and written). You are able to have discussions with your teachers and peers in English and you are able to give and receive constructive feedback to others. Note that all submitted materials must be in English, and all communication during the program will be in English. No additional evidence of sufficient command of the English language is required.

You have a positive attitude towards online education and digital tools. You have the resources to communicate synchronously and asynchronously with peers and teachers through online tools.

Teaching method

This is a fully online 6-week course, including several synchronous and asynchronous sessions and online assignments. You are expected to spend approximately one day per week on coursework, but you can be flexible in where, when, and how you work on the assignments. 

However, there are several main assignments with specific submission dates and several synchronous live sessions which will be planned at the start of the course. 

During the course, you will keep a portfolio in which you reflect on your own learning process. This portfolio should be turned in at the end of the course. Upon approval, you will receive the certificate of completion for this course.


Your teachers are true scholars and experts in the field of Research on Task-Centered Learning Environments: Professor Jeroen van Merriënboer, PhD, Research Director SHE; Anique de Bruin, PhD, Jimmy Frèrejean, PhD.

 Learning Environments, SHE Maastricht University

Principal Staff involved

  • Jeroen van Merriënboer, PhD, Research Director SHE and Programme coordinator
  • Jimmy Frèrejean, PhD.