Learning and teaching in the Regional Learning Environment. Enabling students and teachers to cross boundaries in multi-stakeholder practices

Carla Oonk


In this research work Carla Oonk integrates her background in land use planning with educational science studying the effectivity of the multi-stakeholder Regional Learning Environment.


Carla Oonk studied Environmental Sciences (BSc) and Land Use Planning (MSc) both with minors in Educational Science. Since her graduation, she worked for some years at a local municipality, but soon switched to various educational settings. She is appointed at ECS since 2007 as a researcher, lecturer and education coordinator.


Current professional planners work in multi-stakeholder settings to collaboratively face complex, “wicked” societal problems. This requires them to “cross boundaries” in the sense of active interaction across practices and learning from these interactions. To prepare planning students for their “boundary crossing” profession, planning education needs effective learning environments that support students’ boundary crossing competence. This PhD project focuses on the effectivity and further development of a new authentic, boundary crossing learning environment as used in planning education called the Regional Learning Environment (RLE).

In the RLE students work in groups on real world, transdisciplinary issues initiated by actors in the field. Solving those problems involves co-creation of new knowledge between students and various external stakeholders. This requires students to “cross boundaries” between multiple disciplines, perspectives and interests. The PhD project aims at (1) finding evidence for students’ competence development in the RLE related to various boundary crossing characteristics of the RLE, (2) investigating the effect of the support of student-stakeholder collaboration on students’ competence development, and (3) the identification of teacher roles, tasks and competencies needed to perform in the new RLE.

Results in the sense of evidence for the effectiveness of the RLE will contribute to the further development of the RLE, and of similar authentic learning environments aiming at boosting students’ boundary crossing competence. This is useful for planning education, but also for other education programmes in which multi-stakeholder collaboration should be practiced. From a theoretical point of view the project will provide further insights in the functioning of boundary crossing learning mechanisms in education.


Project team