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Domain Specific Learning

Research Institute of Child Development and Education

The mission of this research group is to promote meaningful learning and educational achievement in various school subjects and domains in secondary and primary education, such as writing, reading, literature, history, social science, foreign languages, classic languages, mathematics, global citizenship and art. We want to advance theories on how to promote the development of domain specific knowledge and skills and to substantiate educational innovations. Social and technological developments and cultural and linguistic diversity each raise new challenges and opportunities for the development of domain specific competencies.

The core topics of our research group are:

  • The learning of domain specific competencies
  • Pedagogic approaches
  • Professional development of subject teachers

The learning of domain specific competencies
We conduct process studies to identify components and levels of domain specific competencies (e.g. historical reasoning, social scientific reasoning, and mathematicall modelling). We also examine how the appropriation of domain specific knowledge and skills relate to student characteristics, such as interest, prior knowledge, linguistic or cultural background.

Pedagogic approaches
We conduct design research and intervention studies to develop and test pedagogic approaches. For example, how can the use of digital tools enhance language production? Which collaborative learning task enhance mathematical thinking? How can teachers formatively assess students’ ability to construct historical explanations? How can history teachers address multiple perspectives? What are the effects of language integrated instruction?

Professional development of subject teachers
We investigate the development of subject specific pedagogical competencies of teachers. We examine, for example, the potential of educational materials, domain specific observation instruments and teachers’ professional growth in professional learning communities.

Outreach activities
Researchers collaborate with teachers, teacher educators, schools and museums (e.g. Rijksmuseum, website in Dutch) to co-create innovative education. We work in the Educational Research LAB Amsterdam (WOA, website in Dutch) in which we focus on questions formulated by schools, and we host the National Centre for Social Studies Education (LEMM, website in Dutch)). Most of the PhD candidates in our research team are funded by the NWO or DUDOC ALFA programmes for teachers. Because they combine their research with teaching at a secondary school or university, they have a high impact on educational practice.

International orientation
We collaborate with researchers from renowned foreign universities. Recent visiting scholars that joined our Lab came from Belgium, Chili, Denmark, Iceland, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Vietnam and the USA.

Prof. dr. C.A.M. (Carla) van Boxtel

Faculty of Humanities

Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences