About Domain Specific Learning (DSL)

View in Dutch

Research Lab Domain Specific Learning

The mission of our research team is to promote meaningful learning and educational achievement in various school subjects and domains in secondary and primary education, such as writing, reading, literature, history, social science, foreign languages, mathematics and art. We want to advance theories on how to promote the development of domain specific knowledge and skills and to substantiate educational innovations. Social and technological developments and cultural and linguistic diversity each raise new challenges and opportunities for the development of domain specific competencies.

Core topics

The learning of domain specific competencies

We conduct process studies to identify components and levels of domain specific competencies (e.g. historical / social scientific reasoning, creative thinking, mathematicall modelling). We also examine how the appropriation of domain specific knowledge and skills relate to student characteristics, such as interest, prior knowledge, linguistic or cultural background.

Pedagogic approaches

We conduct design research and intervention studies to develop and test pedagogic approaches. For example, how can the use of digital tools enhance language production? Which collaborative learning task enhance mathematical thinking? How can teachers formatively assess students’ ability to construct historical explanations? How can history teachers address multiple perspectives? What are the effects of language integrated instruction?

Professional development of subject teachers

We investigate the development of subject specific pedagogical competencies of teachers. We examine, for example, the potential of educational materials, domain specific observation instruments and teachers’ professional growth in professional learning communities.

Outreach activities

Researchers collaborate with teachers, teacher educators, schools and museums to co-create innovative education. We work in the Educational Research LAB Amsterdam in which we focus on questions formulated by schools, and we host the National Centre for Social Studies Education (LEMM). Most of the PhD candidates in our research team are funded by the NWO or DUDOC ALFA programmes for teachers. Because they combine their research with teaching at a secondary school or university, they have a high impact on educational practice.

International orientation

We collaborate with researchers from renowned foreign universities. Recent visiting scholars that joined our Lab came from Belgium, Chili, Denmark, Iceland, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Vietnam and the USA. When you are interested, you can contact the program leader C.A.M.vanBoxtel@uva.nl.

The Domain specific learning Lab is embedded in the Research Program Education of the Research Institute of Child Development and Education (RICDE) of the University of Amsterdam.