Adaptive and Autonomous: how the student of today develops into the professional of tomorrow

Comenius Senior Fellowship
Project member(s)
Prof. M. Kleemans (Mariska)
Project type

Mariska Kleemans, associate professor of Communication Science, received a Comenius Senior Fellowship for creating a learning path for professionalisation.

Reason behind this project

The Communication Science programme wants to provide professionals who are capable of dealing with the continuous changes in the dynamic media landscape (adaptive performance). Because this requires students to be motivated and able to continue to develop themselves both during their studies as well as their professional career, it is very important that they are able to take control over their own learning process (autonomous learning).

To better facilitate the adaptive and autonomous development of students, a didactical vision on education was implemented in the curriculum. Autonomy-supporting education is at the centre, flanked by a learning path of professionalisation where students work on their own personal-professional development.

Approach within the project

Two concrete innovations have been implemented. Firstly, lecturers have been trained and facilitated to apply the principles of autonomy-supporting education in their courses. This has led to a revision of modes of instruction and assessment. Several workshops and meetings were organised to prepare lecturers and support them throughout these changes. Secondly, a learning path for professionalisation has been added to the curriculum. Space was created by merging existing courses, making them smaller or in a single case, dropping them. Students now have 5EC of space in each bachelor year to work on their own personal-professional development (15EC in total). 2EC was made available during the master’s programme for this purpose.

Every year students are assigned a lecturer-coach, who has followed a training designed for this project. Together with this coach and five other fellow students, the student will form a coaching group. At the beginning of the academic year every student formulates a series of goals (with the help of e-learning modules) based on the questions: who am I, what am I capable of, and what do I want? The student then has a year to do activities that contribute to achieving their personal goals ('the expedition').

A catalogus has been developed with a broad offering of activities (among others there are MOOCS, training sessions, workshops, alumni contact moments, career orientation), but students are also explicitly challenged to come up with their own activities that are suitable for their goals. During the individual and group meetings with the coach there is room for guidance and intervision. At the end of each year, the results are collected in a portfolio together with a personal and professional profile. This way the students create an overview of their personal-professional development throughout their studies. They can use this to present themselves to the workfield.

Download 'Not everything can be learned from a book'

The experiences of Mariska, her colleagues, and others involved with this Comenius project have been bundled in the publication 'Not everything can be learned from a book'. Download the the book (in Dutch) here, and dive into a world filled with experiences and learning moments.


This project is funded by a scholarship from the Comenius Programme. Every year, the Netherlands Initiative for Education Research (NRO) awards these grants to renewal projects in education. 

Contact information

Would you like to know more? Do not hesitate to contact the project holder.