Universiteit Leiden

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Education and Child Studies


How do people develop and how do they learn? How does their environment affect them? How do we ensure that they develop in optimal fashion? And what can we do if problems occur? These are questions that the researchers at the Institute of Education and Child Studies try to answer.

In the middle of society

With their focus on child rearing, development, support services and education, the researchers at the Institute of Education and Child Studies have two feet in society. They are in regular contact with government institutions, schools, childcare organisations, care institutions, adoption agencies and foster organisations. Their research contributes to knowledge that can have an immediate effect on society.

For instance, they have developed and tested a video-feedback intervention to promote positive parenting and a support programme for the parents and guardians of young children. Moreover, they conduct research into areas such as reading and arithmetic methods, the development and prevention of aggression and antisocial behaviour in children, and learning in a digital world. Much of their knowledge is directly translated and applied at the Leiden University Treatment and Expertise Centre (LUBEC), for instance. Bachelor’s students also seek to answer questions from organisations in the working arena during their graduation projects. They thus gain experience in translating knowledge to the practice.

Wide focus

The research themes at the Institute are wide. The researchers focus on child rearing and the development of children and adolescents with and without developmental and other problems, in biological and non-biological families, childcare, education and care institutions. Important areas of focus are clinical neurodevelopmental sciences, forensic family science (including child abuse) and teaching.

The researchers use a wide range of research methods and have broad expertise in data analysis. A team of statisticians and research methodologists support the researchers wherever necessary. Various research techniques are used, such as MRI, EEG, eye tracking, behaviour studies, hormone measurements and standardised tests. Observation research is conducted not only in the Institute’s own labs but also in the home environment of children, parents, guardians and teachers. Master’s students help develop and conduct the research during their graduation projects.

The collaboration with other disciplines is intensifying: the pedagogical context is essential to the legal position of minors, for instance. How do you decide if a child should carry on living at home or be taken into care? The Institute has partnerships with various other institutes and faculties (for instance, the Institute of Psychology, the Faculties of Law, Humanities, Governance and Global Affairs and Medicine) and its researchers work with many other partners within and outside the Leiden region, in the Netherlands and abroad. 

Fundamental and applied

The research at the Institute of Education and Child Studies covers the entire spectrum from fundamental to applied. Its researchers study neurobiological processes, for instance, which can explain problems relating to development, learning and child rearing. They also look at how the knowledge that they have acquired can be applied in practice. They also conduct much experimental research, for instance in the lab or at schools. With this combination of fundamental and applied research, the Institute supports parents, carers, teachers and other professionals in their efforts to help children and adults develop in optimal fashion.

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