American Education vs. Dutch Education


I have started school at Maastricht University and their education system runs on a Problem Based Learning(PBL) curriculum. It is very different than the education system in America. For starters the class sizes are very small, there are about 12 students in each class. In addition, the classes are student driven. There is a teacher or a tutor in each tutorial/class. Tutors and teachers are present in each tutorial simply to supervise and facilitate discussion. Therefore, students are required to ask questions, analyze the task at hand as a group.

The way PBL works is students must complete the seven steps to PBL. First, the group discusses the task at hand and as a group, you make sure everyone understands the problem. For example, there is usually a text given to the students and they must read the text. The first step consists of students defining vocabulary words they do not know and understanding what is being asked of them. Next, students must create questions that shed light on the task. For example, asking questions about the main topics in the passage. Then, students brainstorm and discuss what the group already knows. Furthermore, the students analyze and structure everything they discussed. For example, they categorize/group similar information they discussed. Next, students create their own objectives. They ask leading questions that extend their knowledge of what has been read thus far. Finally, students independently read their recommended readings and take notes on the learning objectives. Ultimately, they come back together as a group and discuss their results.

I personally like this system. Everyone is required to speak and share their knowledge or opinion. Most importantly, I love that it is no longer just about memorization. I feel that I am able to relate more to the material because my input is based on my knowledge and my interests. I choose how to relate to it.

Also, I love that it is not lecture based. Students are constructive learners. We no longer have to rely on the teacher to feed us the information, we now seek it independently.

However, I have noticed that many people do not like this new learning style because they are used to the American teaching style. Many of my classmates have complained about having to learn new ways to study. Personally, I love that we are able to travel to another country and experience another teaching style because back home there is a lot of controversy on our teaching style. Also, I have tutored in numerous school and I have firsthand seen many students flunk out of school because of our teaching style. Therefore, learning about different types of teaching styles begs me to ask can we as a nation have a better education system? I am excited to continue learning about PBL and experiencing a whole semester of it.

Thank you for tuning in!