Blogs and publications

This blog is written by LEARN! academics. The contributions present our take on current issues in education and social science, and reflect some of the highlights from our extensive programme of research. Views are our own and aim to inform, debate and shape our thinking.

Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest blogs and publications, news and events.

Read our recent blogs on Covid-19 in English

Read our recent blogs on Covid-19 in Dutch


Blogs and Publications 2019-2020

Marina Ilias

Due to Corona protection measures, schools were closed for several months this Spring. Just before the Summer holidays schools re-opened for part of the time. Parents took over the role of teacher and provided homeschooling. For most parents this took some getting used to! With schools re-opening fully for the Autumn term, there is time to look back. What have they learned for when schools might have to close again? emptyRead the full blog.


Chemistry teacher and researcher Marion van Brederode has investigated together with her colleague Bas Zoon and Martijn Meeter from Learn! how instructions of a chemical laboratory assignment influence students’ critical thinking. The paper has just been accepted for publication in Chemistry Education Research and Practice (CERP) and can be read here. Below you can read a blog about her findings. Read the full blog.


Scheikundedocent en onderzoeker Marion van Brederode heeft samen met haar collega Bas Zoon en Martijn Meeter van Learn! onderzocht hoe instructies bij scheikundepractica invloed hebben op het kritisch denken van leerlingen. Het paper is net geaccepteerd en kan hier gelezen worden. Hieronder schrijft ze een blog over haar bevindingen. Read the full blog.

Nicolette van Halem

Going to university is supposed to be the time of your life. But is it during the Corona pandemic? Recent student surveys indicate that students struggle. The ‘motivation barometer survey’ of UGent (2020) shows that 68% of the students struggle to persevere. A survey of the VU Amsterdam shows that even though students are not concerned about passing exams, they feel substantially less motivated and they report to study less (Onderwijs op Koers, July 2020). In primary and secondary education, there is a similar concern for student motivation during (part-time) distance education (Heemskerk, 2020). Given the possibility of distance education in the following academic year, we now need to move beyond the question of whether students are present in only meetings and comply to deadlines (Mathijsen & van der Wateren, 2020) and wonder how distance education can be motivating and engaging. This blog offers some insights from our current research. Read the full blog.

Marianne Mak

Now that many medical school assessments are taking place in an online environment with limited surveillance, students face an ethical dilemma of whether to engage in potential fraudulent behaviour to improve their results. But what constitutes fraudulent behaviour? This blog reflects on this questions through the lens of the 4 I’s of professional medical behaviour: involvement, interaction, introspection and integrity. Read the full blog.

Agnes Willemen

Scholen in het basisonderwijs waren de afgelopen twee weken in aangepaste vorm open. Voor deze korte periode werden er nieuwe modellen ontwikkeld voor het combineren van thuisonderwijs en onderwijs op school. We vroegen leerkrachten en schoolleiders welke van de onderstaande modellen hun school implementeerde, met een open antwoord-optie voor andere modellen. Read the full blog.

Martijn Meeter

Normaal waren deze week op honderden scholen de centrale schriftelijke eindexamens (CSE) van start gegaan. Waren, als niet anderhalve maand terug besloten was de dit jaar examens te schrappen, en voor de leerlingen die nu van school gaan alleen het schoolexamens te laten tellen voor het diploma. Read the full blog.

Sarah Seleznyov

Lesson Study (LS) is a collaborative approach to professional development that originated in Japan.  It involves small teams of teachers collaboratively planning a lesson designed to explore a research question, observing the collaboratively planned research lesson with a focus on the learning of pupils, and then discussing implications for teaching and learning.  The increasing global popularity of LS and my own challenges with the implementation of LS in the UK have led me to consider the feasibility of translating this very Japanese approach into a different cultural and structural context.  Read the full blog.

Judith Conijn    MelanieEhren kleur

The much-discussed final test in primary education has been cancelled this year. Since 1968, these test results have served as an objective criterion for the intake of students in secondary education at the most appropriate level. On the other hand, over the past 20 years, the test has resulted in an explosive growth in shadow education in the form of test training. So this year, we are witnessing a scenario that many had already predicted and that others had feared. Can we make a sound assessment of the consequences? Read the full blog.

MelanieEhren kleur

Ofsted’s initial response to the Coronavirus was one of ‘business as usual’, leading to an outrage, particularly from principals who received a phone call for an unannounced visit the next day. Ofsted was quick to respond by suspending all routine inspection from the 17th of March. All of this now seems irrelevant with schools closed and school staff scrambling to organize some form of distance learning and support parents in homeschooling their children. Read the full blog.


In this blog, Anders Schinkel reflects on the lessons we can learn from this Corona crisis. How can we make sure that even though schools are closed, we still learn a lot from what is happening now? In addition to a life experience that makes a deep impression, the current situation also provides material for meaningful learning about biology, cultural differences, civics and citizenship, economics and ecology, and how we can and must work towards a future in which freedom, above all, is a condition for responsibility. Read the full blog

Marina Ilias

A few years ago, in the project Thuis in School  (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam), when we conducted research with parents and schools on parental engagement in the education process, there was no way we could have guessed what we'd be seeing now. Parents and teachers are trying to prevent the Corona virus measures from having an adverse impact on children. This suddenly gives parental engagement an entirely different dimension. Read the full blog.

Recent events have clearly indicated that many countries are at risk of an outbreak of a virus, such as COVID-19 and how ill-prepared schools and education systems are to continue teaching and learning in a context of crisis. The WHO’s comment on preparedness of health care systems (2020) equally applies to education: Read the full blog.

Anne de La Croix

The reflective zombie: problematizing reflection in higher education

In December 2018, a paper came out about ' the reflective zombie'. The paper contains a critical analysis of reflection in higher education. The authors of the paper, LEARN! colleague Anne de la Croix and Mario Veen, come up with possible sources of current issues and try and find ways to move forward. The paper was downloaded more than 7000 times in its first year and has sparked much discussion since. In this blog, Anne will summarise the central thought behind reflection and reflects (!) on the impact of the paper. Read the full blog.

Renske BouwerThe findings of the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) reveal an alarming picture of today’s reading education in the Netherlands. This international assessment is done every three years, measuring 15-year-olds’ ability to use reading, mathematics and science knowledge in their daily lives. The focus of this year was students’ reading ability, with almost 5000 15-year-olds participating from over 150 secondary schools. Read the full blog.

IngeAs people who work in education, we want students to succeed and graduate. Not only is this important for the students for all obvious reasons, but it is also important for the schools because their existence and financing depend on it. Especially success in vocational education is one of the main goals of Dutch educational policy because, without a degree, students at this level miss the basic qualification to carry out an occupation. Read the full blog.

AndersSchinkelEducation is commonly seen as crucial to individual and collective well-being. Government policies tend to focus on how the education system can contribute to economic growth and international competitiveness. At the same time schools are required to supply the labour market with the employees it needs and society in general with liberal-democratically minded citizens. The Inspection assesses school quality primarily in terms of average scores as an indicator of whether government-set learning goals are being met. In this context, schools focus on the core curriculum (that children are tested on), and on preparing children for those tests, resulting in a high-pressure learning environment. Read more about the Wonder-Full research project ...
Melanie-EhrenIn 2017, the Dutch Inspectorate of Education introduced a new framework for inspections of school boards. The new framework follows a shift in the wider governance of schools with new legislation implemented in 2010 (‘Goed Onderwijs, Goed Bestuur’) to more clearly demarcate the roles and responsibilities of school boards. The Act requires school boards to ensure a minimum standard of performance in their schools and to quality control and improve their schools. Read the full blog ...
ChielvanderVeenHMarjoleinDobberet lerarentekort is in Nederland een groot probleem. Steeds meer kinderen, directeuren, leerkrachten en ouders zijn hier de dupe van. Het is dan ook niet verassend dat er creatieve oplossingen worden bedacht, zoals een bonus voor leerkrachten die willen werken in de randstad of het verlagen van het aantal lesuren. In Trouw van 18 september 2019 doet ontwikkelingspsycholoog Ewald Vervaet wel een heel opmerkelijk voorstel om het lerarentekort op te lossen: wachten met onderwijs tot het kind rijp is voor de leerstof. Lees hier de reactie op het stuk van Vervaet ...
Marianne Mak-vander VossenQuality of health care depends on doctors behaving professionally. A medical student’s unprofessional behaviour predicts later unprofessional behaviour as a physician. Therefore, professionalism is an important topic in undergraduate preclinical and clinical curricula. The educational domain ‘Professional Behaviour’ is a longitudinal thread throughout the six-year medical curriculum of VUmc School of Medical Sciences, Amsterdam. Workplace learning and role modeling are the pedagogic concepts for teaching professional behaviour. Educators carry out multiple formative and summative assessments of professional behaviour, and are asked to attend to lapses in professionalism of their students. Read the full blog ...
AndersSchinkelAs I write this I am on my way back from England to the Netherlands.
I will cross three borders.
I am allowed to do so because I carry a certain object, a hybrid of paper and plastic - that is, of tree and oil, of recent and ancient flora - that identifies me as a Dutch citizen, a member of a nation-state recognized by other nation-states.
The customs officers did not recognize me, of course (they don't know me), yet they recognized me, or rather the polity I belong to.
My passport doesn't mention this, but I am a Homo sapiens-Neanderthal hybrid. My hybrid ancestors have roamed the part of the earth we now call Europe for 40,000 years without encountering any borders. Read the full essay ...
Cor-van-MonfortSome weeks ago the Inspectieraad (‘Inspection Council’) published the book Reflecties op de staat van het toezicht (‘Reflections on the state of supervision’). In this edited volume several authors reflect on the report Toezien op publieke belangen. Naar een verruimd perspectief op rijkstoezicht (‘Supervision on public interests. Towards an enhanced perspective on supervision’) which was published by the Wetenschappelijke Raad voor het Regeringsbeleid (WRR, the Scientific Council for Government Policy) five years ago. Most of the contributions are, though not directly related, relevant for the education sector. In his chapter, Dr. Cor van Montfort reflects on the governance paradigm underlying the report and argues that it can contribute to a more responsive and effective supervision model. However, it also forces supervisors to deal with contradictory expectations from stakeholders (like parents or local governments), politics and society which requires a specific set of skills. For more information: and
Melanie-EhrenOn 3 and 4 July a delegation of school boards, policy-makers and researchers joined Marjolein Moorman, deputy mayor of Amsterdam on a visit to London to learn about the ‘London effect’ in tackling educational inequality. The ‘London effect’ was first highlighted by Cook (2013) in a series of articles in the FT. He showed that pupils in London scored higher, and that the difference was greatest for more disadvantaged schools and neighbourhoods. What can Amsterdam learn from successful programmes and approaches? Read the full blog ...
AndersSchinkelDe klimaatproblematiek – en de bredere milieu- en energieproblematiek waar deze onderdeel van is – is naast een politiek, moreel, economisch, sociaal, en levensbeschouwelijk vraagstuk ook een pedagogisch vraagstuk: de vraag hoe opvoeding en onderwijs er in het Antropoceen uit zouden moeten zien, in deze tijd waarin de mensheid een onmiskenbare en problematische invloed uitoefent op de aarde en haar bewoners, is een vraag die veel meer aandacht verdient dan hij tot nu toe gekregen heeft. Lees de volledige blog ...
Tom-KayeTom Kaye writes about the Emerging Alignment in the EdTech Sector. Between 17 – 24 June 2019 London EdTech Week hosted nearly 6,000 participants at over 25 events, with attendees exploring the current state and future evolution of the global EdTech industry. Read the full blog by Tom Kaye ...

Nienke-van-atteveldtNienke van Atteveldt writes about the newest insights in the “teenage brain” and how there is more to the story than the common focus on impulsivity and risk taking. Based on recent research together with her PhD student Sibel Altikulac and other colleagues, she highlights the influence of the negative public perception on adolescent brain development and shifts the attention to the bright side of this developmental period. 

Read more here ...

In a special issue at Frontiers Young Minds, Nienke van Atteveldt and Sabine Peters help children and their teachers to understand the learning brain better. Thanks to funding by the Jacobs Foundation, the article collection incl an Ebook for free download, will be translated into multiple languages including Dutch. The deadline for submitting abstracts is June 21, for full articles (~1500 words) Sept 30. If the abstract deadline had passed and you’d still like to contribute, please let the editors know. The collection is expected to be published around spring 2020. 

Read more details here ...

FlorisvanBerckelSmitOver the past few decades, efficiency and output of higher education, the role of ‘managers’, and new budgeting systems have become increasingly contested. The debate about how to govern and control higher education has seen new impetus with college admission bribery scandals in the United States (US), while in the Netherlands the committee-Van Rijn is proposing an overhaul of how universities and polytechnics are funded, introducing more state control. Are these cases indicating a turning point for new public management (NPM) in higher education? How can we understand these debates from a historic perspective?

Read the full blog ...

Melanie-EhrenLEARN! Director Melanie Ehren writes about how to ensure impact from comparative education research. She offers four reflections and explains why they are difficult to implement, even though they are open doors: 1) be clear about your message, 2) Engage stakeholders early on, 3. Build relationships over time, 4. Build in time in your country of study.

Read the blog on

Cor-van-MonfortLEARN! colleague Cor van Montfort is writing about how to make horizontal accountability more meaningful. Funded by the Dutch council for Secondary Education (VO-raad) he is working with school boards on how to ensure horizontal accountability for external purposes also supports organizational learning and improvement. 

See his interview on (in Dutch, page 54):

gerdienbertramtroostGerdien Bertram-Troost offers a compelling narrative about the complexities of remembering the second world war in education, the role of teachers and the importance of having a conversation about freedom and democracy. 

Read the essay on: