Universiteit Leiden

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Educational Sciences


The theme in the research of the Educational Sciences programme group is "the learning individual in education". This theme is viewed from various angles, with particular attention to normative learning and development processes.

The aim of the research programme is to provide insight into the cognitive processes and brain mechanisms that underlie reading, arithmetic and learning in general. In addition, research is being conducted into how learning is influenced by what happens in the school context, for example in teacher-student interactions. Attention is paid to social-emotional aspects of learning, such as motivation.

These insights form the basis for the development of domain-specific interventions and instructional methods. Because learning and education are not 'one-size-fits-all' phenomena, a lot of attention is paid to individual differences.

Focus of research

  • learning processes of individual students
  • differences between students
  • influence of teacher and curriculum on learning
  • relationships between students and between teacher and student(s)

In the programme group, both fundamental-theoretical and applied research is done on psychological processes and brain mechanisms that are important for learning at school, and on individual differences in these processes and mechanisms. For example, we investigate how students build up a mental representation of a text, and what the role is of working memory and background knowledge. We also look at cognitive processes and strategy use during math, and how these are triggered by characteristics of the math lesson.

Many of these topics are viewed both at behavioural level and from a neurocognitive developmental perspective. Various research instruments are used for this, including cognitive tests, strategy analyzes, eye tracking, fMRI and EEG.

This theme includes research into teacher-student interactions. Among other things, attention is paid to freedom of choice when doing school work, feedback and the development of a bond between teachers and students. For example, we investigate how these interaction patterns are related to student motivation and emotion. We also investigate how teachers' views and pedagogical-didactic actions are related to teacher and student motivation.

Education takes place in a social context and with a social function. In this theme we investigate, for example, how differentiation takes place - or should take place - in education. In addition, we conduct policy-oriented and sociologically-oriented research into education in a context of socio-cultural and ethnic diversity

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