Maarten de Boer en Hilde

Research into motivating and stimulating characteristics in honours education

TLC voucher project
Project member(s)
Maarten de Boer
Project type

Reason behind this project

Previously, the Radboud Honours Academy (RHA) focused for the most part on attracting excellent students. However, for the current honours programs at Radboud University, students are mainly selected on the basis of their motivation. It is therefore important that the RHA creates a learning environment in which that motivation is maintained and further stimulated. Which factors are experienced as intrinsically motivating by honours students and lecturers?

The term 'learning environment' refers to the didactic learning environment. This refers to the elements that influence the learning process of the students. This includes the physical or online environment, the skills and approach of the teacher or supervisor, the fellow student(s) and all available materials and sources.

There has been extensive research on motivation in education. The most well-known theory of motivation is the Self Determination Theory. This theory mentions three basic psychological needs to become (intrinsically) motivated: a sense of autonomy, connection with others and a sense of competence. In addition, the degree of motivation can be placed on a scale from extrinsic, such as punishment and reward, to intrinsic motivation, where the reason for acting is part of a student's value system.

Maarten de Boer his goal is to gain insight into the elements of the didactic learning environment within honours programmes that are experienced as intrinsically motivating by honours students as well as honours lecturers. These insights can serve as design principles and can therefore be used to further improve and strengthen the honours programmes. Insights from this research can also be translated into regular education programmes at Radboud University. This could mean that these programmes can be made more attractive in the future, so that they motivate students even more strongly.

Approach within the project

De Boer is conducting the research in four phases. First of all, it is mapped out which elements of the didactic learning environment of honours programmes are mentioned in the literature. In addition, it is being investigated to what extent these elements can actually be found in the honours programmes of Radboud University. Focus group discussions are then held with both lecturers and students. These conversations are used to study which characteristics of the didactic learning environment are experienced as motivating by students and teachers. Finally, a comparison is made between honours programmes and regular programmes.

On the basis of the literature review and the first focus group discussions design principles for the honours programme are formulated. These are then presented to students and lecturers in the form of in-depth focus group discussions. The conclusions of this will be used to optimise current honours programmes and possibly to improve regular programmes at Radboud University.


This project is funded by a TLC-voucher from the Radboud Teaching and Learning Centre. That voucher programme has the goal to set up projects in the field of educational innovation, lecturer development and educational research.

Contact information

Would you like to know more? Do not hesitate to contact the voucher stakeholder.