Hogeschool Leiden

Learning climate research

Approximately 20,000 children receive round the clock treatment in residential youth care in the Netherlands and special education, often due to severe behaviour problems, criminal behaviour, psychological problems or because of a mild intellectual disability. They generally follow special secondary education. Because they often have a serious learning disadvantage, this education is important for them to prevent relapse, repeat infringement and to give them a chance to find work and a place in society. From diverse research by, for instance, the Youth Care and Education inspectorates, it appears, however, that teaching this mixed group is exceptionally difficult, because of the aggressive and outstanding behavior of the students. Moreover, with its strong focus on cognitive skills, today’s secondary education is not always designed for this group, a fact that can demotivate these students. They are often unable to complete an internship, which means they cannot achieve a ‘start-qualification’. In this population, school drop-out is a real issue. Teachers therefore urgently call for real guidance to help improve the learning climate and to motivate these youngsters to study and go to school.

In 2013, in cooperation with the Windesheim University of Applied Sciences in Zwolle, an initial step was taken to carry out systematic research into the learning climate in the secondary (special) education sector. This project also aims to provide practitioners with real guidelines to help them improve the education and motivation of young people. In the special education sector, experienced teachers have a lot of implicit knowledge about what works (and what does not), who can provide us and (future) colleague-teachers valuable insights. Therefore knowledge will be shared with the Master an Bachelor courses in universities of applied science’s study programs (SPH, MWD and Pabo) regarding professional practices where this group is concerned. Learning climate research is often combined with research into teachers’ work climate. We examine how pedagogical support and educational support should be developed so that it meets the didactic and educational needs of the students. The learning climate questionnaire also includes a questionnaire for measuring the students’ perception of safety in the school. Since 2014, the learning climate research is often combined with the TOPS-A questionnaire (link) and, or the translated version of the  ‘About me’ developed by professor Pam Maras of Greenwich University. In 2015, in liaison with the practitioners, the questionnaire ‘You and society’ has been drafted about criminal cognitions and radicalization. This project is conducted in close cooperation with professor Chris Kuiper, Annemiek Mol Lous, Marjorie Beld of Windesheim University of Applied Sciences and professor Geert-Jan Stams of the University of Amsterdam.

Further reading about the learning climate research at ‘Current projects and subsidies’ and Marjorie Beld’s research