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New insights to support teachers and pupils

Good education is the basis for a fair and sustainable society. To maintain a high level of education, teachers, pupils, lecturers and students need new resources. One of the ways that Leiden University supports them in this is by conducting academic research, largely together with practicing teaching professionals, which results in valuable new insights. Read more about this in the new research dossier Optimal Teaching.

This is the question that most occupies all teachers: how can I make sure that my students learn as much as possible as well as possible. From this point of view, there are currently all kinds of challenging issues within the various stages of education. For example, secondary school teachers are often looking for the best teaching methods and means of getting students to reason in a certain way - for example mathematically or geographically. In secondary education such as higher education, teachers often find it difficult to interest students in their subject and to become more active.

Students can best be encouraged to engage in active learning by being given problem-solving tasks in groups.

Problem-solving tasks activate students

The Interfaculty Centre for Teacher Education (ICLON) provides teachers with practice-oriented support with these kinds of questions. They do this by offering their findings from research on the best ways of presenting teaching material and of motivating and activating students. In the new  research dossier on Optimal Education, Professor Wilfried Admiraal from ICLON explains that students can best be encouraged to engage in active learning by being given problem-solving tasks in groups. ‘The best tasks prevent students with a cognitive conflict. When reading the task, students have to think: “Hey! I don’t understand this.” At the same time they have to feel that the problem is solvable provided they work together on it.’

Teenagers who have developed a social anxiety disorder can start avoiding going to school.

Maths teaching was not ‘better’ in the past’

Researchers at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural  Sciences study all kinds of aspects of how children and teachers function. Marian Hickendorff, for example, is conducting research on maths performance and the effectiveness of maths teaching.  She refutes the persistent idea that maths  teaching used to be better than it is today. Leiden social scientists are also studying psychological issues experienced by pupils, such as social anxiety among teenagers. ‘Social anxiety is when you worry about what other people think of you: you’re afraid of being put down and of doing anything that might be thought stupid,’ Anne Miers, a psychologist, explains. ‘If that fear develops into a disorder, it can cause teenagers to avoid situations in which they have to interact socially – such as at school.’ Miers is researching different ways of reducing social anxiety.’

Pressing questions and scientific answers on teaching are discussed extensively in the new research dossier: Optimal Teaching.

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