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Pedagogy and Didactics

The Ruggesteun – Making Connections project is based on the integrated educational strategy of the UG, where Active Learning and Blended Learning are connected.

Active Learning

Active Learning is about how students learn, how learning takes place in the mind of students. Grounded in constructivist learning theory, Active Learning theory states that students learn when they actively build their knowledge by connecting new ideas to old ones, and by modifying and critically evaluating existing knowledge (Vygotsky, Dewey, Piaget, Gagne, Bruner). Active Learning enables students not only to memorize and reproduce knowledge, but also to master academic learning goals such as analyzing, synthesizing and critically evaluating knowledge and insights, the so-called higher-order thinking skills. 

Good examples of Active Learning definitions are:

  • “The basic premise of active learning involves focusing on reinforcing higher-order thinking skills and instructional techniques, requiring learners to actively participate in the ownership of their learning” (Shroff, Ting & Lam, 2019)

  • “Active learning engages students in the process of learning through activities and/or discussion in class, as opposed to passively listening to an expert. It emphasizes higher-order thinking skills and often involves group work” Freeman et al (2014)

Part of the constructivist learning theory is the socio-cultural learning theory (Vygotsky, 1962, 1978) stating that Active Learning takes place in social interaction (learning communities, small groups). Hence cooperative learning, collaborative learning, and problem-based learning are often considered to be forms of Active Learning.

Active Learning refers to a learning process of students, but the term, Active Learning, is also used in connection to other educational concepts and practices in the teaching and learning process, thereby creating constructive alignment between learning goals, didactical models, the learning environment, and the means or tools to be used:

Active Learning Didactics

Active Learning didactics is a didactical approach used by teachers to enhance the active learning process of students.

Active Learning Classrooms

Although Active Learning can take place in any educational setting or learning environment, Active Learning is facilitated and stimulated in flexible, Active Learning Classrooms

Active Learning Means (tools, instruments, etc)

The literature provides a lot of examples of activities, tools, instruments, assignments etc. that facilitate active learning (See for example: Brame, 2016).

Blended Learning

The combination of two modes of education (online education and face to face education) is called Blended Learning. 

Blended Learning is not about replacing face-to-face education with online education, but about making the most of educational technology to further enhance Active Learning practices. Blended Learning is therefore more than just combining, mixing and integrating online and offline education; it raises questions for educational (re)design of courses and pedagogical opportunities and challenges.

The UG sees Blended Learning as “the thoughtful integration of educational technology and face-to-face education for the purpose of further strengthening our active learning, fostering connections, and enriching the learning experience”.

As such, Blended Learning can be seen as a means (an instrument) to an end (Active Learning) and more in general enriching students’ learning experiences: “blended learning is an instrument that can contribute to the educational vision.” (UG Strategy)

Blended Active Learning

Active Learning can be enhanced in physical classrooms, lecture halls, Active Learning Classrooms (ALCs), but also online. Therefore, in the Integrated Educational Strategy of the UG Blended Learning and Active Learning could be integrated in one concept: Blended Active Learning.

Blended Active Learning is the incorporation of Active Learning in online and face-to-face educational settings.


Blended Learning

Active Learning



Didactical Model

Any teaching and learning process involves a few central concepts:


What are the learning goals and contents (what do we want students to learn, what are the general aims of university education, UG’s educational mission, vision, core values)?


How are we going to achieve our learning goals (teaching approach, didactical methods)? 


In what learning environment do we teach and learn (face-to-face, online, blended, hybrid)?


What educational materials, technology and tools are we going to use?

For an optimal success there should be alignment between the educational mission and goals (WHAT), the didactical methods and pedagogical principles (HOW) that can be expected to achieve the educational goals and mission, the design of learning environments (WHERE) that facilitates the chosen didactical methods and pedagogical approaches, and the selection of adequate educational tools and materials (MEANS).

Following from the learning goals (the WHAT), a choice for the HOW is made: how, by what didactical approach, e.g. Active Learning didactics, in what learning environment (WHERE) and by what MEANS (technology, materials and tools) can we achieve our learning aims.

This didactical model has been used for several decades and has been developed in its basics by a Dutch educationalist (Van Gelder, 1971). We use this didactical model to position Active Learning in the WHAT and the HOW as an example:


  • mission

  • vision

  • goals/aims

  • core values

UG students become active, independent, critical and responsible citizens of the world, globally engaged citizens who gain the knowledge and skills to cross the borders of traditional disciplines and contribute to solving complex scientific

and societal problems.


Didactical method: Active Learning




(tools and materials, ICT)

Last modified:21 November 2023 5.52 p.m.
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