Chapter 1: The sandwich design of teaching and learning

The long way from knowledge to a competent doing

Prepared by:
Ana Ivaniš, Dario Sambunjak, Maida Rakanović Todić, Martina Kadmon, Veronika Strittmatter-Haubold


The sandwich principle is a general architecture of a learning-session that involves the students actively. Significant is that there are always sequences of collective and individual learning. So the students are not only passive recipients of information, they have also the possibility to discuss in pairs or small groups about what they’ve heard and afterwards to confront their point of view with these of other colleagues. It is based on the assumption that the student’s attention can not be kept longer than 20 minutes although a regular university class (lecture) takes 45 or 90 minutes. Also characteristic for the sandwich principle is the change of phases that depends on the length of a lecture.

Sandwich consists of phases of collective learning (introduction, lectures and ending), phases of individual learning (motivation, processing, memorization and transfer of knowledge and skills. To change the phases in a good and helpful way is also very important. These bridges are like junctions (A, B, C, D) with a special function which are described in a different way in the following document. Each phase has its own characteristics and the combination of them is the teacher’s job.

  1. In the beginning phase (motivation and orientation) it’s very important
    1. to explain and to clarify the structure of content (subject, objective, agenda, schedule of activity, advance organizer)
    2. to involve students actively in some way, so that they can conquer the speaking barrier (personal reflection, conversation in pairs/small groups, network or flashlight method)
    3. to detect the level of the participants pre knowledge (posing questions, giving test, making a quiz)
  2. In the middle phases,
    1. In the processing phase the teacher can give tasks to the students and can introduce new methods for individual learning opportunities (effective are collaborative learning techniques again in small groups: teamwork, problem-solving methods, method or structured controversy, brainstorming techniques, mind maps, graphics etc.)
    2. and in the memorization phase there is time to compare the results of the students network (guided reciprocal peer questioning method, forced debate, diversify the composite of the groups)
  3. The finishing phase (transfer of knowledge) is as important as the beginning phase. In this phase it’s important

    1. to have a chance to ask the remaining questions (collecting questions and answering in small groups/pairs, group interviews, network, structure laying technique)
    2. to profound knowledge (using graphs, mind maps, presentation of advance organizer, post organizer, case study, problem-solving tasks, practical exercises)
    3. to have a look at the sustainability of the learning processes
    4. to make a reflection on the whole process and the outcome of learning (feedback, flashlight, pair interviews about the course, oral or written reflection)

Moreover it is very important to change the particular phases. These bridges are like junctions with special functions, which are described in a more detailed way in the following document.