Open-ended Learning in Higher Education

An open-ended tasks aims at complex problem-solving skills by confronting students with a realistic problem in a learning environment with a large amount of learner control and different tools.
Open-ended tasks have more than one right answer, solution or outcome and can be completed in more than one way. They can take the form of statements, questions, tasks, projects or teaching methods. Different students may use different types of thinking. Most importantly there are no predetermined correct outcomes. Can we transform higher education towards curricula without predetermined learning outcomes?


Open-ended learning activities are provocative and stimulate divergent thinking. Teachers’ attitudes, assessment criteria and procedures must encourage students to take different paths and offer creative responses. Unique contributions are welcomed. Open-ended education:

  • Encourage many students to give responses;
  • Encourage student-to-student interaction patterns;
  • Elicit more complete and more complex responses;
  • Allow students to give knowledgeable answers;
  • Encourage students to question themselves, their classmates, and their teachers;
  • Stimulate further thought and exploration.


Open-ended activities work well in multidisciplinairy learning spaces because they have ‘low floors’ and ‘high ceilings’. This means they require minimal background knowledge and also have high or no limits on the knowledge and skill participants might use and learn. I hope we will get the opportunity to design open ended curricula and I will debate it in my institute.

Open ended Learning

A great vision of Knowmads Amsterdam, like Kaospilot they work with open ended learning. Be inspired!


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