School Psychology (MSc)
The master's specialisation School Psychology consists of three main parts: the mandatory courses, the thesis and the internship/extra electives.
Here you can see the schedule for this master. Click on the programme to view it at full-screen.
Prof. Dr. Michiel Westenberg
Professor of Development Psychology
'We developed the programme in close cooperation with practitioners and this is one of the reasons why our students are so well prepared for their internship and subsequent work as a School Psychologist. And this means that our students know how to assist children and adolescents who are in need of some help during their school career, and they know how to assist school teachers who want to do what is best for their pupils.
I am very proud that Leiden University agreed to offer a School Psychology master's program. At this moment the only School Psychology master's specialisation offered by a Dutch university. Why is School Psychology that important? Quite a few psychologists are already working at or for the schools: helping children with learning difficulties and socio-emotional problems, and assisting teachers and school principals in designing ways to foster positive development in their pupils. For these psychologists it has been a ‘training on the job’. There is nothing wrong with that, but it is way more efficient to start off with a broad and thorough background in the theory and practice of School Psychology.
To offer a School Psychology master's program has been a big wish for quite some time and it was a fantastic experience to design the program with a skilled and enthusiastic team of colleagues. The programme rests on scientific knowledge and is inspired by input from practitioners – school management and teachers, remedial teachers, school counselors and psychologists, and so forth. This has led to a balanced program consisting of four mandatory courses which represent four central content areas and four crucial professional skills. That is, in each course we couple content with skills, for example in the Needs-based Assessment course we couple gaining knowledge about intelligence and learning difficulties (content area) with learning how to conduct a proper assessment (skills part). In the Internship the emphasis is on practical skills training, whereas in the master's thesis the emphasis is on scientific skills.'
In this course students learn about general theoretical and empirical knowledge on strategies for prevention and intervention of social and emotional problems: how to detect such problems at an early stage and how to conduct early intervention programs.
In this course, students will acquire the skills to:
- detect feelings of stress and anxiety at an early stage without making ‘false positive’ errors;
- distinguish between general stress and anxiety, and specifically among test anxiety, performance anxiety, and social anxiety;
- apply basic techniques from school-based intervention programmes for stress/anxiety reduction (e.g., exposure-in-vivo, relaxation, task-concentration, cognitive restructuring, skills training).
In this course students learn how changes in the developing brain lead to changes in specific cognitive functions. In the context of school psychology, this relates to functions like attention, memory and cognitive flexibility as well as responsivity to stress or social exclusion. The module consists of two parts: theoretical and practical.
The theoretical part is divided into lectures on:
1) basic principles of neuroscience;
2) how cognitive functions directly critical for learning such as learning and plasticity, attention and memory are instantiated in the brain, and;
3) factors that support healthy development in a school context, such as sleep, social and work-load related stress and quality of peer relationships and bullying.
The practical part will:
1) impart students the skills of how to apply their knowledge in a school setting;
2) provide insight into neuroscientifically derived training programmes of cognitive functions important in the classroom;
3) teach the tools of neuropsychological testing and diagnosis.
In this course students gain knowledge and skills in the psycho diagnostic assessment of children with cognitive problems at school, according to the Needs Based Assessment model (NBA).
Students will acquire knowlegde of:
- The psychoeducational diagnostic process, based on the NBA model; and
- Various learning difficulties
Also, students will acquire skills necessary for:
- the formulation of evidence-based and goal directed problem analyses and hypotheses;
- the administration of various assessment tools;
- formulating acceptable recommendations;
- writing psychological assessment reports; and
- professional reflection
In this course students will learn how to coach a teacher in an inclusive education setting to help schools and learners meet the challenges of implementing inclusive education.
In this course, students will acquire the skills to:
- provide a coaching intervention through a teacher;
- conduct classroom observations;
- communicate effectively with educational professionals;
- provide advice and recommendations to various parties in a school setting as regards issues in inclusive education.
For more information about the courses, check out the e-Prospectus.
Students need to do an internship of 10 or 20 ECTS. A 10-ECTS internship has to be supplemented by two (5 EC) electives.
Overview of all the elective courses in the master's programme MSC in Psychology.
School Psychology: a new programme
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