Universiteit Leiden

nl en

PhD project

Study success: academic achievement and critical thinking competence in undergraduate education

What is the impact of research-based learning on critical thinking competence and academic achievement in undergraduate education? What are underlying factors of research-based learning in the learning environment?

2013 - 2017


  • Mayke Vereijken MSc - PhD candidate
  • prof.dr. J.H. van Driel (Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne) and prof.dr. F.W. Dekker - supervisors
  • dr. R.M. van der Rijst - co-supervisor

Project description

Study success in undergraduate education

As a result of an agreement on study success between Dutch universities and the state secretary of education attention is paid to graduation rates, time to graduation and curriculum adaptations that encourage academic achievement. Besides academic achievement, research-intensive universities provide opportunities for giving way to study success in terms of benefits of integrating research in learning (e.g. in student research projects). Integration of research in teaching  in undergraduate education aims at facilitating student learning in research, in development of research disposition and critical thinking competence. This project focusses on different ways of research-teaching integration on  academic achievement and  critical thinking for curriculum development purposes.

Research-based learning

Research-based learning (RBL) involves opportunities provided for students to gain experience in planning and carrying out discipline specific research. Evidence suggests RBL is good for student motivation towards research, professional socialization into research and personal development. Debate is on critical thinking as an outcome of RBL. One explanation for this could be that critical thinking is discipline-related instead of generic. Generic skills are typically assumed to develop in conjunction with discipline specific skills and knowledge. Therefore academic achievement (GPA) is also taken in consideration.

We use questionnaires on student perceptions and dispositions of RBL as well as qualitative methods to determine attained RBL goals on curriculum and course level to answer the main research question.

Scientific relevance

In a longitudinal study two undergraduate curricula within one discipline are compared in ways of research-teaching integration (e.g. learning goals), student perceptions of RBL and academic achievement in GPA as well as critical thinking. Also, different disciplines participate in a quasi-experimental study to determine effects of study behaviour in research-related subjects on academic achievement and critical thinking.

Foto: STOCK4B / Blend / Learning Pictures / Universal Images Group

Research proposals and findings will be presented at both national conferences (e.g. ORD, NVMO) as international conferences (e.g. AERA, ECER).

Research findings will ultimately be submitted to peer-reviewed journals for publication.

2018: dissertation

This project is part of the Leiden University Study Success project, which entails 2 other projects, in which Bart Huisman is focusing on formative feedbackand Indira Day on intermediate assessment.

This website uses cookies.  More information.