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B³ - Bildung Beyond Boundaries 2021

Radical Ideas in Higher Education Challenge

It has been more than two years since the “Bildung Beyond Boundaries”- B³ Framework committed to the development of “groundbreaking and radical ideas for the innovation of higher education”. In doing so, the collaborative B³ Framework between the Jacobs Foundation and Jacobs University sponsored two rounds of research projects that support evidence-based teaching and learning, grounded on digital technologies, in the unique context of a trans-disciplinary and cross-cultural university environment, such as Jacobs University. Out of the first round of applications, three projects were chosen. These Projects officially started their work in the fall of 2019. Moreover, in spite of the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic during the year 2020, the B³ Framework sponsored a second round of six research project proposals, which began their work in the fall of 2020. All these projects continued to develop experimental advancements in the field of innovations in education, precisely in the context of a transformative historical time for higher education.

Their contributions could not be more relevant at this point in time. Therefore, this website will feature very soon the advancements of all nine research projects considering their wide array of innovative educational solutions, as well as technological contributions to the ever-evolving field of student learning and academic success. We invite interested audience to stay tuned to learn more about the process and evaluation of the B³ cutting-edge research projects.


Background Information

The European University Association (EUA) observes a new momentum in the transition from teaching to learning, also referred to as student-centered learning.
This paradigm shift “stipulates that education provision and all its aspects are defined by the intended learning outcomes and most suitable learning process, instead of the student’s learning being determined by the education provided” (EUA Report 2019).
In this context, the students’ role in creating the learning process distinguishes between teacher-centered and student-centered learning approaches.

I.    Column: Project-based learning (PrBL)
The PrBL approach enables students to actively explore real-world problems. In a curriculum built around project work, faculty guides rather than directs students; ultimately, they take responsibility for their own learning by tackling tangible problems.
Jacobs University’s UG curriculum aims with its Community Impact Project (CIP) to actively engage with the University’s “Third Mission” or “Capacity Building. This mandatory module provides an ideal space for student-centered research projects, based on PrBL approaches.

II.    Column: Team-based learning (TBL)
TBL is a collaborative learning and teaching strategy designed around units of instruction, best described as a version of flipped classroom approaches. It is a structured form of small-group learning that emphasizes student preparation out of class and application of knowledge in class. Students are organized strategically into diverse teams of around 5-7 students that work together throughout the class.
Team-based learning was coined by Larry Michaelsen in the 1970s at the University of Oklahoma and is widely used, in particular in Anglo-Saxon medical education. The TBL pedagogy is mainly fostered by the organization: “Team-Based Learning Collaborative”.
Four principles of Team-Based Learning (Michaelsen & Richards 2005) are:

  1. Groups should be properly formed (e.g. intellectual talent should be equally distributed among the groups). These teams are fixed for the whole course.
  2. Students are accountable for their pre-learning and for working in teams.
  3. Team assignments must promote both learning and team development.
  4. Students must receive frequent and immediate feedback.

III.    Column: Problem-based learning (PBL)
PBL’s influence can be traced back to McMaster University’s Medical School in the 1960s.
Maastricht University has adopted PBL as the core of its teaching pedagogy ever since the university was founded. UM students team up with ten to fifteen fellows to tackle real-life challenges and actively engage with the subject matter, under the supervision of a tutor.
Cornell University describes PBL as an instructional method of hands-on, active learning centered on the investigation and resolution of messy, real-world problems. Rather than teaching relevant material and subsequently having students apply the knowledge to solve problems, the problem is presented first.

IV.    Column: Phenomenon-based learning (PhBL)
PhBL (or PhenoBL) was implemented in Finland’s education systems in 2016. It has its origins in constructivist learning theories.
Phenomenon-based learning is a multidisciplinary instructional pedagogy, where students study a topic or concept in a holistic instead of in a subject-based approach.
The challenge of PhBL is that no specific subject is taught, nor is there any preset learning objective. Learning goals are created during the learning process, learners investigate and solve their own questions by applying what subjects are relevant to the problem.


•    EUA Report 2019:
•    Wright, G. B. (2011). Student-centered learning in higher education. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Postsecondary Education, 23(1), 92-97
•    Nilson, L. B. (2010). Teaching at its best: A research-based resource for college instructors (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.