See Summary 2017

Summary 2017

Also this year educational advisors and teachers from several countries were welcomed at the Design Lab of the University of Twente to be informed about the Twente Educational Model (TOM) or, in Dutch Twents Onderwijsmodel (TOM).

The next TOM Seminar is planned on 29 May 2018

Opening by dr. J.I.A. (Irene) Visscher and Drs. T.L.C. (Tom) Mulder

In this presentation Irene Visscher and Tom Mulder explained what TOM is and why the University of Twente implemented it. There were several reasons why the university implemented the new educational model:

  • Students should be ready for the 21st century, asking for T-shaped professionals
  • The University of Twente wanted to go from teaching to learning. Less ‘sage on the stage’ and passive listening student; more active learning. Learning together, spreading the workload en regular feedback.
  • Decreasing the (late) drop outs;
  • Enhancing the study yields

With Student Driven Learning we want to create the entrepreneurial attitude among students. Students should sit in the driving seat. Learning is not only about understanding, but also about asking new questions. The structure of TOM is as following:

  • Full-time thematic modules of 15 ECTS;
  • Project-led education: applying and developing skills in projects’;
  • Uniform curriculum structure and modules that are shared by different programmes;
  • with respect to the content of the programs we planned: common mathematic lines for science and technology and joint methods line for the social sciences, and reflection in each programme

Download the presentation 

Project-led education by C. (Charlotte) Oude Alink, MSc (Centre of Expertise in Learning and Teaching)

Charlotte Oude Alink introduced a case to work on: The assignment of this workshop was to design a High Tech Human Touch module, based on some given information. For this assignment, the visitors used the 'Module Poster', a tool also module teams use to design their module. The visitors formed teams and worked on their design. After 20 minutes, the teams pitched their module to each other and with the use of Shakespeak visitors voted for the best design.

Download the presentation. 

More information about the whiteboard module poster: 

Design and implementation process by drs. T.L.C (Tom) Mulder and dr. J.I.A. (Irene) Visscher

The initial phase started with a vision of the new vice chancellor. After a year of discussions with the deans, he formed an independent working group to develop an educational model. A small group of about 10 persons, including two students, some education directors and the winner of the education price.
The university implemented an abstract vision and the structure (10 weeks, 15 ECTS, full time, working in module teams) top-down. The idea was to provide freedom to design the modules. In the charcoal sketch sessions it wasn’t that hard to come up with the rough sketches.
When looking back we can conclude that the perception of the programme staff was that it was very top down: too many rules and regulations. The perception of the support staff, however, was that there was too much freedom.

Activities undertaken:

  • Design sessions with program directors and in departments
  • Study days for program directors, with different kind of themes. Primary for programme directors, as they are responsible for the quality of the programmes
  • Education Day for all staff, with a major theme. Main goal: sharing examples.
  • TOM Carrousels: short lunch sessions about a theme. A short presentation of a teacher. The carrousels are held at each faculty (the same presentation)
  • Educational advice form CELT
  • Tutor training
  • Mini seminars

Support organization:

  • A small team of ‘external’ advisors, started in a building between the scientist. To boost TOM.
  • Steering: the vice chancellor was involved (ideological push) and a core team of program directors.
  • Critical expert team from within the university. Scientists, professors in field related to education or educational innovation.
  • Audits form sister universities: This helped in the political discussion, with discussion in university councils. And to mirror your ideas.
  • Regrettably only a few students were involved. Most design teams designed at informal moments, without students. That’s not the best way; lacking ownership.


The pilot at Biomedical Technology was politically crucial. The pilot was not the success we hoped for. Therefore, instead of starting TOM, a new pilot at Electrical Engineering the next year. Their drop-out rate majorly decreased. So a year later than planned, we started with TOM. The pilots gave insight success factors and pitfalls (open doors). But: it was difficult to transpose.

PhD positions

When TOM started, the University of Twente also created 2 PhD positions to research the effects on TOM:

  • Professional development of teachers in module teams (individual perspective)
  • Influence of team learning on the module design.

The first article “Team-Based Professional Development Interventions in Higher Education: A Systematic Review” is published and can be found here:

A second article is submitted for publication: Bron, R., Endedijk, M. D., Van Veelen, R., & Veldkamp, B. P. (2017). The joint influence of intra- and inter-team learning processes on team effectiveness: A constructive or destructive combination? Manuscript submitted for publication.

Campus tour

After lunch, a short tour around the campus was made to see TOM in practice. First, the project of module 8 of Industrial Engineering was visited. In a short introduction Roy Damgrave explained that in this module eleven different tools were offered. Student only visited a part of these tools. The project team as a whole should visit all tools. In this way, peer learning occurs. It is also a way to cope with freeriding. After this introduction, the visitors of the seminar could ask the student for their experiences.

Secondly, André de Boer told about his High Tech Human Touch Module in the minor, where students design a concept for an airplane that can drop goods in area's in need of help. Part of this module is a practicum in the 'wind tunnel'. Leandro showed the visitors the wind tunnel and what students investigate here. 

After this, the group went back to the DesignLab for a small tour here. The Design Lab is a creative and cross-disciplinary ecosystem at the University of Twente, connecting science and society through design. Faculty and students from all fields work together with companies and governments on societal design challenges of our times, inspired by novel scientific insights.

Q&A session

After the tour, it was time to ask questions to students and experts of different aspects of TOM. Experts were available in the area's of teacher development, Student-Driven Learning, Assessment, Technology Enhanced Learning and Teaching (the use of ICT). It resulted in vividly discussions until the time was up. Luckely, during the drinks & bites, the experts were available to continue the discussions.