Developmental Education in the school context

Research Topics

The research group focuses on empirical research addressing theory-based questions related to Developmental education in the school context (primary and secondary schools), as well as practical questions that emerge from implementations of the Developmental Education concept in everyday school practices. The theoretical framework of the research program is based on the cultural-historical theory of learning and development, linked to the internationally growing research community of CHAT (Cultural-historical activity theory).

The mission of the research program is the study of the processes and conditions that promote development in subject matter understanding and identity, in order to contribute both to the development of cultural-historical theory and to practical innovations in classrooms. In its research, the program integrates psychological (microgenetic) and pedagogical perspectives.

The focus of the research is on microgenetic processes involved in classroom learning, teaching, and curriculum.

This domain is elaborated in three topics:

Topic 1: the appropriation of cultural tools (like language, subject matter concepts, models, ICT tools). Studies related to this topic investigate processes and outcomes of subject matter teaching and learning in different domains in primary and secondary schools (Kuiper, van Schaik, de Koster, Poland).

Topic 2: the characteristics of productive learning contexts. With respect to this latter topic, the research program particularly aims at studying the educational potentials of communities of learners, play-based curriculum (van Oers), inquiry-based curriculum (van Oers, Volman), and identity oriented curriculum (Volman) taking into account professional qualities of the teachers and sociocultural  diversity within the community.

Topic 3:Problems of school innovation. Research under this topic investigates the dynamics of school innovations based on implementation of new educational concepts (de Koster, Poland).

Methodologically, the empirical research of the program applies a broad spectrum of designs (quasi-experimental design, case studies, design-based research, survey, cross-sectional studies, longitudinal studies).


Research Group

Theory and Research in Education

Bert van Oers

Senior staff
Els Kuiper; Bert van Oers; Marielle Poland; Monique Volman 

PhD Students
Martijn van Schaik; Sandra de Koster

Research Assistants 
Martie Sneep, Marijn Tanis