Fostering challenge-based learning through TU/e innovation Space

Comenius Leadership Fellow


Challenge-based learning (CBL) forms the core of the TU/e educational vision for 2030. It concerns an innovative type of learning where students work on real-life open-ended challenges that directly impact our world (e.g. related to United Nations’ sustainable development goals), and where students take ownership of their learning. Besides deepening disciplinary knowledge and skills in context, students learn to collaborate with different disciplines and stakeholders, and deal with complex, open-ended processes. TU/e aims to implement CBL as an educational concept, a learning framework for all programs, and thus offers a unique environment to study the development and upscaling of the concept. TU/e innovation Space is the community and facility that plays a central role in the development of CBL at TU/e.

The project is innovative since it focuses on fostering learning that closely fits students’ intrinsic motivation, but in order to succeed, the learning framework requires strengthening of its conceptual basis and guidelines towards wider implementation. Accordingly, several researchers from different disciplines work together to develop a framework to refine CBL in higher (engineering) education based on empirical evidence from best practices and learn from experiments carried out. The project team is involved in the most important experiments in CBL at TU/e, has expertise in educational innovation and learning, and can direct university-wide implementation of CBL. Research will unravel the effects of CBL on students’ engagement, collaboration, learning processes and outcomes, and on teachers’ needs to facilitate this type of learning.

Research findings will thus inform the development of new means for implementing this innovative way of learning and fostering university teacher involvement and professionalization. Furthermore, researchers have a strong focus on disseminating the results to support further higher education institutes in the advancement of their curriculum and educational practice.

Project plan

The central goal of this research project is to develop a framework and means to make CBL a leading educational principle for the TU/e-community and transferable to other institutions. The research project consists of the following work packages (WP):

  • Development of the CBL framework (WP1)
  • Learning from the experiments (WP2)
  • Teacher involvement and professionalization program and support (WP3)
  • Wider implementation (WP4)
  • Dissemination (WP5)

Project team


Area of Expertise

Isabelle Reymen

Project leader / innovation, entrepreneurship & design, educational innovation

Jan Vermunt

Educational innovation and research

Miguel Bruns

Challenge-based learning expert and teacher

Kathinka Rijk

Educational policy advisor

Birgit Pepin

Educational research advisor

Lex Lemmens

Educational advisor

Sjoerd Hulshof

Advisor and responsible for implementing challenge-based learning in electrical engineering bachelor program

Kerstin Helker

Empirical research on challenge-based learning

Jasmina Lazendic-Galloway

Research on teacher involvement and professionalization

Chantal Brans

Educational policy advisor

Daphne van Geemen

Project coordination/management

Diana Vinke

Educational policy advisor

Michael Bots

Challenge-based learning program manager of TU/e

Suzanne Jacobs

Teacher support and professional development

Rachelle Kamp

Professional development



August 2020 to January 2024

Total grant for this project

The Netherlands Initiative for Education Research (NRO) granted a total of € 499.484,00 to Isabelle Reymen and her team to perform research on fostering challenge-based learning through TU/e innovation Space.

Intended results

  • Development of a framework to refine the definition of CBL, based on literature and empirical evidence.
  • Setting up guidelines for designing and implementing successful CBL-based courses
  • Develop means for achieving teacher involvement and professionalization.