Team Spatial Development does not shy away from experiments

Shorter lesson blocks than usual, lectures with LEGO … the Spatial Development team | Climate & Management (Faculty of Technology, Innovation & Society) does not shy away from experimenting. “We can never do enough when it comes to improving education.”

“In fact, we are always working on improving the quality of our Spatial Development education,” says Bas Hilckmann, who works in the sustainable mobility specialisation, is an expert in the area of self-driving cars and teaches Critical Thinking. “In doing so, we always ask ourselves why we do the things we do. Can we improve? We are continuously looking for the best. We evaluate and adjust.”


The Spatial Development degree programme | Climate & Management has scored high on the National Student Survey (NSS) for years. Bas believes that the open door policy of his team has played a significant role in this. “The students can come in anytime during the week. We know the students by name and they address us informally. It is important to give students the confidence to ask questions and to debate with us and to treat them as young professionals. Students feel seen and heard.”

Standing and self-managing

The door is closed for 45 minutes every Monday. This is the time slot for the weekly stand-up meeting with the whole team. “We discuss our plans, do what we need to do to get things going and name the things that are going well,” explains Bas. “We all try to take our responsibility. You could say that we are a self-managing team and we have to row the boat together. Working in one Staff Room helps as we can quickly confer while working.”

Involving students

“In the time that I teach here, I have never taught the same subject in the same way twice. Fortunately, Spatial Development dares to experiment!” laughs Bas. “This is part of our specialisation. We strive to find new designs, considerations, optimisation and efficiency. Also, we involve the students in the educational format and our experiments in advance. We ask them what they enjoy, what they need and what could be done better.”

Blended learning

“We use blended learning. Examples are lectures using LEGO SERIOUS PLAY, digital lessons, videos as well as the traditional and very welcome lectures. We involve potential clients from the field in almost every block so that students can continuously work on real issues. The majority of the lecturers in the team also work in professional practice, as do I. This allows us to continuously adjust the content and format of our teaching in parallel with professional practice. This is important as in four years’ time, we want to deliver professionals who can take on the role of spatial developer.”

Changing the rules

“We’re pretty bold at Spatial Development. We want to give our students feedback within five working days, while this is usually ten working days across the University of Applied Sciences. We have also introduced a first block of eight weeks in year 1 instead of ten weeks in which new students get used to and learn about universities of applied sciences education and The Hague University of Applied Sciences.


The second block lasts longer. During this period, students learn all the facets of the broad specialisation in ‘sprints’. They look at questions such as what is spatial development and what is a sustainable city. At the end of the two first blocks, the students have a good picture of themselves in the degree programme and they can still switch to another degree programme if they wish without delay.”

This is the second article in a short series about the nominees of the Olive Award, the award for stimulating, challenging and engaging education at THUAS. The first article was about challenged based learning at Nutrition & Dietetics.