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.

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Blogs and Publications 2021

Extra support, catch-up programmes, learning delays, these have now become common terms in education. With the extra resources (8.5 billion, of which 5.8 for primary education and 2.7 for secondary education) that have been made available for the National Education Program, schools can invest in the development and recovery of their students during and after corona. Schools are working hard to expand their school plan to invest in extra hands, professionalization, materials/methods, etc. over the next 2.5 years. This is an enormous challenge, especially when taking into account the current teacher shortage.

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Extra ondersteuning, inhaalprogramma’s, leervertraging, het zijn inmiddels veelgehoorde termen geworden in het onderwijs. Met de extra middelen (8,5 miljard waarvan 5,8 voor het basisonderwijs en 2,7 voor het voortgezet onderwijs) die beschikbaar zijn gemaakt voor het Nationaal Programma Onderwijs kunnen scholen investeren in ontwikkeling en herstel tijdens en na corona.

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Throughout her academic career, Işıl Sincer has been interested in societal topics and the role of education in shaping our society. In her PhD, she investigated whether the way in which schools vary in the composition of their student population may contribute to students’ citizenship education. In our conversation, we talked about how schools adapt to a diverse student population and what implications we can draw from her results to enhance citizenship education in secondary education.

Read the full interview

Covid-19 heeft een enorme impact op het onderwijs. Dit heeft geleid tot grote interesse in hoe de ervaringen nu kunnen bijdragen aan beter onderwijs in de toekomst. Om praktijkervaringen en resultaten uit onderzoek te delen, organiseerde LEARN! in samenwerking met Education Lab op 9 juni het congres ‘Vergroten onderwijskansen na Corona’.

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Covid-19 has an enormous impact on education. This has led to an increased interest in how recent experiences can contribute to a better education in the future. To share experiences and research results, LEARN! and Education Lab organized the conference ‘Increasing educational opportunities in the wake of Covid-19’ on Wednesday June 9th.

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Weird as it may sound, over the last five years, I have been incorporating the gap between research and practice. That’s right. I didn’t study the gap. I didn’t observe the gap. No, I was the gap. A full-fledged crying-walking-sleeping-talking research/practice gap.

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Nederland staat hoog op veel fijne lijstjes, maar ook op eentje waar trots minder gepast is: onze pubers zijn de minst gemotiveerde voor school  van alle OESO-landen.

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Psychology has too many words. Usually, wordiness is not that bad of a thing (like Trump claiming to have the best words in the world), but for psychology, it is a curse. 

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Crossing borders can result in great discoveries
By Nicolette van Halem & Alissa Postpischil

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An increasing number of countries around the world are introducing education reforms that rely on similar policy principles; decentralization, learning standards and accountability.

Read the full interview
What do we need to teach pupils in school? How can we prepare them to act confident in a more and more complex world?

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Project B-KIJK for supporting teachers in interaction with students with challenging behaviour
Update and consequences Covid-19 pandemic

In the LEARN! newsletter of October 2020, I gave an interview about the start of my PhD project ‘B-KIJK’ on supporting teachers in dealing with young children with challenging behaviour. In the study we will test two interventions to improve the relationship between the teacher and the student. In this update I will talk about the recent developments in the study and the challenges we face(d) because of COVID-19.

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Marina Iliás, Anne Tharner, Marleen de Moor, Carlo Schuengel & Mirjam Oosterman
Center for Clinical Child and Family Studies, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Lockdown measures and school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic meant that families with school-aged children had to adapt to a new situation: Suddenly, the home became the center for work, schooling, learning, play and spending time together as a family (Hale, Webster, Petherick, Phillips, & Kira, 2020).

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In a recent documentary on Dutch national television, a delegation of Amsterdam educational officers is filmed during a visit to a London school. The guests are shocked by the strict discipline in the school.

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Recently, the first study of my PhD has been published, and I would like to share the findings with you. In short, this study aims to shed some light on why medical students react differently to teachers who try to engage them in learning activities. I have structured this blog in three sections: the conception of the study, methods and results, and upcoming studies.

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Erik Meij

Interview Erik Meij

For 20 years Erik Meij is educating students to become chemistry teachers when he decided to do a Master in educational sciences. Already in his Master, he started to think about what do teachers know about learning? He continued investigating this topic in his current PhD by trying to answer what learning concepts do teachers use to make their daily decisions when preparing classes.

Read more about his research in the interview.


Het Ministerie van Onderwijs, Cultuur en Wetenschap (OCW) verstrekt subsidie in drie aanvraagrondes om opgelopen leerachterstanden - veroorzaakt door de coronacrisis - in te halen. Scholen mogen zelf bepalen welke inhaal- en ondersteuningsprogramma`s (IOP`s) worden ingezet en welke leerlingen in aanmerking komen voor de extra ondersteuning. Onderzoeksinstituut LEARN! onderzoekt samen met de Universiteit Maastricht  welke programma’s worden ingezet om leerlingen extra te ondersteunen en hoe effectief de programma’s hierin zijn. In dit blog presenteren wij de eerste analyses van subsidieaanvragen uit de tweede tranche, en specifiek; de typen programma’s die scholen (zullen) inzetten, motivaties voor de gekozen programma’s, en wat de verwachte werkzame elementen zijn.

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De afgelopen maanden is er veel discussie over het centrale eindexamen/eindtoets en of deze al dan niet in aangepaste vorm dit jaar moet doorgaan. Op moment van schrijven (11 feb 2021) heeft de overheid het volgende bekend gemaakt (we maken een selectie, zie hier de volledige mededeling):

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Ilona Benneker

Interview Ilona Benneker

How can the mindset of students affect processes in class? What influence can parents have on the mindset of their child? Ilona Benneker tries to answer these questions in her PhD. She is an experienced biology teacher and received the NWO doctoral grant for teachers two and a half years ago to pursue a PhD while continuing to teach part-time. In the interview, she talks about her PhD project, the privilege to combine research and practice and how the theory of fixed and growth mindset can help us better understand adolescents.

Read the whole interview ...

Chiel Mireille Femke Elizabeth
By Chiel van der Veen, Mireille Smits-van der Nat, Femke van der Wilt and Elizabeth Wynberg

In the current COVID-19 pandemic, children are spending more time at home as some schools have to close for a day, a week, or several months. What does this mean for young children’s play activities?
Why do children need play now more than ever, and how can parents engage their children in high-quality play activities?

“While I am preparing dinner, I see my oldest daughter (Sefae, age 7) playing outside. She is wearing one of our face masks and pretends to be a shop owner. All the supplies are neatly placed on a picnic table. One of her friends, also wearing a face mask, joins her and helps with pricing the items. After a while, some other kids from the neighborhood join them in the role of guard or customer.”

“During dinner, I ask my daughter what they were playing. Sefae: ‘We opened a new shop and we had a lot of customers. Yasmine and Max were the guards and made sure nobody was stealing and that all the customers kept some distance from one another. We had to wear face masks because of corona.’”

So speaks one of the authors of this piece. 

Read more....
Marjoleijn Camphuijsen

In many countries worldwide, adjustments were made to standardized assessments following school closures to contain the spread of the coronavirus. As such assessments are commonly used to inform decisions on student progression and/or qualification, as well as to monitor and evaluate school and teacher quality, alternative measures were put into place in many contexts, including postponement of assessments, adaptations in administration, or reliance on prior assessment results in case of assessment cancellations. Recognizing the urgent need for research on the impact of different measures, the ICSEI Research Lab ‘COVID-19 and standardized assessments’ examines the short- and long-term consequences of adopted measures for students, teachers, schools and school systems. While the Lab will run until February 2021, a key finding so far is that systems that already have in place a combination of assessments that inform key decisions and qualification, including teacher assessment, seem to be more robust to deal with changes. Read the full blog
Lege collegezaal

Recently, students in Amsterdam demonstrated to call for more face-to-face education. A student petition is circulating online, asking for a refund of their tuition fees because, it is claimed, university education is not of good quality now that it has shifted online due to Covid-19. Do they have a point? Read the full blog.

Lege collegezaal
Recent demonstreerden een aantal studenten in Amsterdam voor meer live onderwijs. Andere studenten vragen inmiddels om restitutie van hun collegegeld omdat de opleiding die ze nu grotendeels online krijgen niet van goede kwaliteit is. Hebben ze een punt? Read the full blog.

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