Maastricht University

Prof. Cees Van Der Vleuten – Professor of Education at Maastricht University attended the SRC opening ceremony and addressed the attendees: ” Let me state that we are in full admiration of the way you are developing your capacity of medical doctors in Saudi Arabia in general and in Qassim in particular. We are aware of the tremendous effort of your country to enhance training opportunities in medical both at the undergraduate as well as at the post-graduate level. We are very thankful that the Sulaiman Al-Rajhi Foundation has provided the support to build a new medical school in this region and we are thankful for involving us to help you in this endeavor. Please allow me to say a few words about my institution. Maastricht University was founded in 1974 and originally started with the medical school only. It was the first school after McMaster in Canada to adopt problem-based learning. Your Highness, perhaps I should particularly explain Problem-Based Learning a little bit for you especially. Problem-Based Learning is a very innovative way of teaching and learning students work in groups on real-life problems, such as patient cases, under the guidance of a teacher. As a group they analyze these problems and define what they wish to learn. They then study individually using many different sources of information. Thereafter they report back to the group and they exchange information. Then the study cycle repeats itself. A small anecdote your Highness. When I explained Problem-Based Learning to our Queen, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, she said: Are you sure you chose the right name for this method? It sounds rather problematic? A good point! However, very different from traditional approaches to teaching, Problem-Based Learning require student to be very active. In addition to the medical knowledge and skills, they also learn how to function in teams, how to communicate, how to lead and how to self-direct their learning. The intent is to make these students not only to be good doctors, but also to prepare them for an active role in our knowledge economy as life-long learners. Research has demonstrated that Problem-Based Learning has been quite effective in developing these important competencies…..” He further exclaimed that the choice for Problem-Based Learning has laid the foundation for a prosperous growth for Maastricht University ever since. Several other faculties within the university were founded soon after the foundation of the medical school and they are now a middle-sized university with approximately 15, 000 students. All faculties, so all education, in the university, use Problem-Based Learning as an instructional method. Maastricht University is the only university in the world that with such pan-university-wide approach to education with more than 30 years of experience in this method of teaching. Continuous changes and developments help to innovate the teaching and learning approach. The Professor further explained: ” As one example, we are now engaged in the 4th generation of our curriculum. Every 10 years we completely renew it. With these cycles we rigorously monitor the quality and adjustments and refinements are constantly being made. Change is hard-wired in our veins. As a result, in national rankings our medical school is always ranked first. And this has not gone unnoticed. We now see that most universities in the Netherlands adopt the Problem-Based Learning method or parts of it. Problem-Based Learning in 2010 is being used in many, many medical schools on every continent of the world. But there is even more. In all these years of innovation in teaching and learning, we have conducted a vast amount of educational research. In and around Problem-Based learning we have published hundreds of journal articles, books and monographs. In all we contributed significantly to the theory of medical education. Our vision is that education, like medicine, should be based on scientific evidence and much of what you will hear this week is based on evidence… The professor further exclaimed his appreciation and salutation to be chosen by SRC to bring about a unique learning perspective. He further assured: ” We will do so in the conviction that we want to educate the best doctors you can train, who are able to provide for the best health care for all. In the meantime we are eager to learn from you, to understand your context, to make new friends, all in mutual respect and understanding, in full partnership. I thank you for the hospitality and wish we will have a very fruitful and productive week of learning. Thank you very much. “ To visit the Maastricht University website, Click here.