Learning and Plasticity
The Learning and Plasticity group conducts fundamental and applied research on individual differences in learning and development of children, teenagers and adolescents. The core characteristics of our research are visualized below.
Individual differences lie at the heart of our research. We study variations between and within homogeneous age samples in order to describe, predict and explain how people learn and develop. We focus on both typically developing groups and samples with an atypical development in one or more areas (e.g., attention deficits, visual impairment, coordination disorder, giftedness).
Our research relates individual differences in learning and development to characteristics of the individual, the knowledge and skills they have to acquire and the context in which their learning and development takes place.
- Child characteristics include a person’s cognitive, behavioral, affective, psychomotor and social-emotional attributes. Through longitudinal and correlational research, we examine how such personal traits influence learning and development. To illustrate, our previous research established that differences in children’s science learning depend on their executive functions and reading comprehension. Other studies found that motivational differences are related to successful physical rehabilitation, and that giftedness is a poor predictor of academic achievement.
- Knowledge and skills refer to the discipline or domain in which our research is embedded. We usually focus on the school subjects of language, math and science, but also address motor skills and domain-general cognitive skills such as self-regulation, problem solving and creativity. We use longitudinal and cross-sectional designs to study whether and how learners differ in their proficiency in and development of these skills, and conduct intervention studies to find out how this development is effectively promoted through instruction and guided practice.
- Contextual factors relate to the physical and social environment in which learning and development takes place. Learning occurs mostly in schools by interacting with teachers and peers, treatment is given in clinics by therapists, and at home, parents, siblings and friends all play an important role in youngsters’ development. By taking these situational characteristics into account, we aim to give a more complete picture of how learning and development occurs and differs between individuals.
The outer ring of the doughnut chart represents the main application areas of our research. Each area comes with specific themes, which are prompted by either academic or societal relevance and shape the research questions we seek to answer. Examples include differentiated forms of teaching, learning, treatment and intervention, adaptive and dynamic assessments, and policy measures regarding equal opportunities and inclusive education.
For an overview of current PhD-projects please click here