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Educational Sciences

Research Institute of Child Development and Education

Within these areas research projects concern issues such as school segregation, diversity, self-regulation and motivation, organizational learning, and educational innovation. Examples of research questions are: ‘how can teachers enhance student engagement and motivation?’, ‘how can schools strengthen school-family partnerships for students at-risk?, ‘how can companies improve the transfer of training to work practice?’

The research of the educational sciences research group often entails an intervention, or development/design component. It is carried out in close collaboration with partners in practice (e.g. teachers, school leaders and school boards) and aims at building bridges between educational theory and practice.

Prof. L.J.F. (Frank) Cornelissen

Head of Research Group Educational Sciences

Research Projects 

  • Accessible pathways to and through higher education – an integral perspective on the accessibility of higher education in the Netherlands

    Securing the accessibility of higher education is high on the agenda in Dutch higher education. Yet, persisting differences can be found between students from varying backgrounds in their likelihood to successfully enrol and study in higher education. In this research programme, we examine why students who formally have equal access to higher education, differ in practice in their chances of successful enrolment and graduation. We will map explicit and implicit obstacles that varying student groups may encounter on their path to and through higher education, and examine the choices and strategies that they make or use in response to these obstacles.

    The program is set up along three research lines. The first line is focused on generating a more integral picture of the opportunity structure of higher education from the perspective of (prospective) students in primary, secondary and higher education. In the second line, we zoom in on the chances and constraints relating to particular key moments and particular students groups.

    In the third line, we will study educational practices that aim to improve the accessibility of higher education. Next to the output that each individual project will deliver, the program will result in an interactive (online) road map to and through higher education. This road map will present our findings about key moments and facilitating and impeding factors, as well as the promising avenues that we identify to improve the accessibility of higher education in practice.

    • Period: 2021 -2025
    • Funding: NRO
    • Researcher/contact Dr. Louise Elffers
  • Diversity in the classroom: reinforcing teachers’ competences


    In this project teachers and research-coordinators/teacher-educators from five primary school boards and researchers from three research institutes collaboratively investigate how teachers can (learn to) use diversity in the classroom for creating an inclusive learning environment. They develop a practical overview of ways in which teachers can take diversity into account, and test aspects of it fitting the teachers’ own context. The consortium also develops and evaluates a professional development approach aimed at improving teachers’ competences in this area.


    Teachers are faced with an increasingly diverse student population. Their students not only differ in terms of ability, interest and learning preferences, but also in ethnic background, SES, religion, home language, migration history, etcetera. In metropolitan areas in particular, this ‘superdiversity’ puts great demands on teachers’ competences. Diversity in the classroom creates new possibilities for learning and can be a source of inspiration, but many teachers experience it as a complex challenge. The aim of this project is to investigate how teachers can use diversity in the classroom for creating an inclusive learning environment and how a professional development approach could contribute to reinforce these competences.

    The first phase of the research focuses on theoretical elaboration and inventory of good practices of using diversity in the classroom. In the second phase a professional development approach is developed and applied that aims to increase teachers’ competences in taking superdiversity in the classroom into account. The EST principle (integrating experiential, social and theoretical learning) is guiding for the professional development. In the third phase this approach is evaluated in terms of its contribution to teachers’ competences and to the inclusiveness of the learning environment in their classrooms. The project results in scientific publications and in products for primary school practice.


    Ten primary schools and three research institutes in Amsterdam (the Netherlands) participate in a change laboratory. Ten teacher communities of practice (one per school) experiment with, and reflect upon, examples of good practice. Each community of practice is supported by a researcher. All teachers and researchers meet several times during the project to discuss and reflect upon their acquired knowledge so far.

    The overall study has a mixed method design. Quantitative data will be gathered at both student level (N = 800), and teacher level (N = 40) level on the student’s wellbeing and teacher’s competences in the multicultural classroom. Qualitative data will be gathered at teacher and school level (N = 10) by means of learning diaries, school specific plans, interviews and focus groups.     

    • Period: December 2018 – September 2022
    • Funding: NRO Programme Council for Applied Education Research – longterm practice-oriented education research (NRO/PPO)
    • Researcher Prof.dr. Monique Volman
  • Online and blended education during COVID-19

    At the beginning of 2020, higher education institutions in The Netherlands were forced to suddenly transition into online education. From an educational sciences perspective, this natural experiment offers an excellent opportunity to investigate online teaching and learning. The primary goal of our project is to gain insight into the online pedagogical strategies teachers use, and examine for which (learning) goal and for which target audience these appear to be more effective.


    Currently little is known about online pedagogies to meet the high expectations champions attribute to online education, such as high performance, motivated students, and a lot of flexibility for both teachers and students. To learn from the numerous initiatives that arose in the last period within and outside of the UvA, the Executive Board asked our project team to study the experiences of teachers and students with online education. Which pedagogical approach did they choose? What was their experience with it?  What worked and what could have been improved? What would they like to keep in future online education? These are the types of questions our research team investigates, and which will contribute insight into how to effectively design and deliver online education programs. These insights will contribute further development and improvement of the UvA vision concerning digitalization and online education.


    During this one-year project four studies will be conducted:

    1. A systematic literature review on factors that contribute to effective online and blended education. Read the results here.
    2. A survey on UvA teachers’ online education practices and experiences, with a specific focus on the pedagogical strategies they used for the attainment of different types of learning goals.
    3. Online focus groups on the experiences of teachers and students with online education. The goal of the focus groups is to deepen the results from the survey by gaining qualitative insights into the design of online courses, the facilitation of social interaction, and online learning. Focus groups will be held with teachers and students from all UvA faculties.
    4. Case studies where we aim to gather ‘best practices’ by interviewing important stakeholders (e.g., educational directors, members of the examination committee, members of the (faculty) TLC’s, and teachers. In these case studies we will investigate which pedagogical approach did they choose, for what particular goal, what worked and why, and for whom did it work and with which goal in mind?



    This research started in August 2020 and is expected to finish in August 2021.




    Project leaders