Research programme Teaching and Teacher Learning
If teachers do their job well, students will benefit. The teaching will have more impact, will be stimulating and challenging, and will lead to students achieving better results. The research of ICLON (Leiden University Graduate School of Teaching) contributes to the quality of teaching, with the emphasis on secondary and higher education.
- Fred Janssen
Teachers are key
ICLON trains teachers, and therefore mainly concentrates on teachers in its research. After all, they are a crucial factor in the educational process. The research programme encompasses two important themes: Teaching and Teacher Learning. It consists of around 25 projects and covers both specific disciplines, such as science teaching or language teaching, and the educational process in general.
Relevance to society
A great deal is expected of teachers in schools and academic institutions today. They must combat the 'scraping by' culture and encourage excellence. They also have a major role in reducing drop-out rates and delayed completion of courses. In addition, they need to ensure that their students have the best possible start in the current job market. ICLON's research programme also investigates all of these aspects, which makes it highly relevant to current issues in society.
Theory and practice
ICLON's research involves both theory and practice. Many projects examine aspects of education that up to now have received very little attention in academic research, such as the project that looks at how teachers themselves prefer to learn, or the project that analyses the effectiveness of bilingual schools. It is extremely important for ICLON that the research has a solid basis in educational practice. The researchers go into classrooms and lecture halls, and the results are applied immediately in our own and other teacher training programmes.
How can teachers in secondary and higher education facilitate, support and motivate their students? Certain methods will be analysed to see how they work and how they could be improved. An example is the current research into student participation: does this result in more motivation and better education?
Theme: Teacher Learning
This research concerns the learning process of teachers themselves – both trainee teachers and established teachers. How do they learn new teaching skills, and how can this be optimised? For example, there is the long-term research study looking specifically at science teachers, which has already given rise to numerous publications and practical applications.
An important theoretical basis of the ICLON research is `situated learning’. This approach regards learning as inseparable from the context in which the education takes place. Aspects such as the knowledge and attitude of the teacher and the social interaction play an important part. Some of our research concentrates specifically on these situational aspects, while in other research projects they are simply taken into account.
Differentiation – dealing with differences – is a recurring theme. ICLON has developed extensive expertise in this area, particularly through its focus on the ‘ GUTS’ (differentiated talent development in school) method. This involves teachers coaching the talent development of their students and offering them individually tailored teaching.
In addition to schools and teachers in the Netherlands, ICLON partners with institutes and universities in countries such as the United States, China, Australia and Scandinavia. Important insights can be gained from both the differences and similarities compared with the teaching in these countries. One example is the research conducted among English teachers in China and the Netherlands, analysing how these two groups convey intercultural communication to their students.
ICLON's projects are partly funded with grants and fellowships from organisations such as the Ministry of Education, NRO (Netherlands Initiative for Education Research) and the Netherlands Fellowship Program.