Universiteit Leiden

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PhD project

Examining teachers’ development during a school innovation: stimulating differentiated student talent development

How do teachers’ knowledge, practices, perceptions, job satisfaction and workload in secondary education develop during a school innovation in the context of differentiated student development?

2013 - 2016


  • Saskia Stollman MSc - PhD candidate
  • prof.dr. J.H. van Driel (Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne) and prof. M. Westenberg, PhD - supervisors
  • dr. J.A. Meirink - co-supervisor

Project description


This research project focuses on an approach that stimulates differentiated student talent development in secondary school.

The study will provide an insight in whether the way the teachers are stimulated to coach students to recognise and develop their talents makes them to keep on stimulating the students this way, even after the project.

The innovation (GUTS; Gedifferentieerd Uitdagen van Talent op School) means for students that they choose subjects to develop their talents in, receive extra lessons in these subjects, and that the promotion standard is elevated from a six to a seven (in The Netherlands grades range from 0 (incredibly poor) to 10 (perfect)). The teachers coach students to discover and develop their talents, they create and give the extra lessons and need to differentiate their instruction during regular lessons, in order to serve each student at their own level. This requires from the teachers to change their current practices and it is therefore interesting whether this change indeed does occur and how their practices change. Of course, other teacher characteristics might also change, so that is why this project not only focuses on changes in teachers’ practices, but also on changes in their knowledge, perceptions, job satisfaction and work load.

Research questions

  1. What is known about the implementation of differentiation in teachers’ practices in a context of student talent development?
  2. How do teachers’ knowledge, perceptions and practices with differentiation relate their job satisfaction and workload in the context of student talent development?
  3. How do teachers’ knowledge and perceptions of differentiation relate to student perceptions of teachers’ practices in a context of student talent development?
  4. How do teachers’ knowledge, perceptions, practices, job satisfaction and workload change during an innovation focused on differentiated student talent development?


During school year 2013/2014 all first form teachers (N teachers= 31) of one bilingual higher general secondary and pre-university education school participate in the project, which has started in November 2013.

All teachers will fill in a questionnaire measuring their knowledge, perceptions, job satisfaction and perceived work load at 3 time points in between May 2014 and November 2015. In the school years 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 a small group of teachers (n≈4) will each of these years be requested to participate in an in-depth study in which observations and interviews will be the main tools for data collection.

This research project is one of two related projects. Central is an intervention with regard to differentiation and talent development. This project examines the teachers’ development during the school innovation. The second project, carried out by Lindy Wijsman, evaluates the effects of the innovation on students.

Within this project we collaborate with Wolfert Tweetalig - a bilingual school in Rotterdam - where the intervention was first implemented in school year 2013/2014.

2018: dissertation

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