Monday, August 12, 2013

'fitted education' or not..

A 'nice' news article that shows how the part of ''fitting education'' (in where every child, also with extra needs and care must be able to participate at secondary education, although there's no extra money facing the schools) has it problems now already. The ''project''  of fitting education (passend onderwijs in Dutch) that will be initiated in the school year 2013-2014, shows it ugly face now already. Students with autism are not allowed to go to the school of their (first) choice. Read it  here, only in Dutch.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Research about the use of social media under primary and secondary school pupils

a (Dutch) publication about the use of social media in the primary and secondary education. This research has looked at 1500 students in the Netherlands. See it here.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Monday, July 22, 2013

Codingcodingcoding writingwritingwriting

It's going fast now! Last week, I've coded my 20 interviews and looked at the program Atlas.ti in which you can process interview results in a more scientific way. The program connects codes which you apply to certain (pieces of) texts, and gives overall view of what you're doing. Easy to use!
Besides that, other results are useful for me.
- what the websites of the schools say about guidance and placement policy on their sites,
- the additional data some people gave me about their school
- the percentages of throughput, ranged on: grade retention, etc.

I need to combine those 3, and then say something about it.
The structure of my thesis, and the layout is ready. Now I have to fill it!

My goal? Hand in a quite good first thesis on August 6...
How to? Lock myself in till that time and having no contact at all.

So maybe there will be no update next week! Well, I will be going on with the same stuff as described above, so I will be repeating myself then.

oh! and my research proposal is also finished. I made the final changes a couple of days ago. The teacher was so kind to let me finish my interviews first!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Going with the flow

I'm glad to tell you that I've got a clear view on the rest of the process, and that I've got the feeling that the end is near (or, better said: is clear).
While planning isn't my strongest point, and certainly is something I need to look into, I have a feeling this will work out. My pace is steady now, and every day is exactly the same (lol), except for the weekend, then my main thoughts are with doing nice stress releasing things. Yep, I've come to the point that I also work in the weekends, but it's kind of necessary I think.

Next week, I'm off to Barcelona, on a trip with my youth orchestra (no update then). Not much time for working there. With now working in the weekends, I hope I can get this time off. :)

I've got 5 weeks from now (actually 6, but one ' useless'') to write my thesis.. Must be possible :) within 7 weeks I've got to request my colloquium, because that takes 3 weeks to organize..

Today: 1 more interview, a talk with my mentor, working on the plans and actions that come forward from that the rest of the week till Saturday.

Monday, June 24, 2013

What data?

I'm looking for quantitative data to compare my interview results with the actual throughput results of the school. I especially was looking for factual numbers, not percentages. For 2 schools I managed those numbers, but from other schools I still only have the figures in percentages per educational institution, not per location.

Though, when I'm able to somehow receive percentages of all visited schools, it would be perfect. because throughput of schools looked over a period of 6 years (so that I would in fact follow just one year of students, during their school period) is not able because of the percentages and anonymity of the numbers, I have to do it with the percentages over a certain period in time.

That clears a lot for me! Next week, I'm meeting with my mentor again - I'm glad to actually justify my actions of the above!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Dutch school advice differs weirdly

Interesting. Just came along an article from April 15th about the advice primary school teachers give. It seems that the advice between pupils in primary education (on different schools) can pretty vary. With that, there's no difference in the pupil himself. Read the article here (only in Dutch).

So, when you're going to school X as a kid, it can happen that your secondary education starts way lower than when your parents decided to put you on school Y. Weird huh? The Inspection of the Education is at the moment researching why that is. Trouw (Dutch newspaper) says that in the four largest cities, the pupils most get a higher advice than is usual. (Dutch news website) reports that teachers are put under pressure by highly educated parents to give their kids higher advises.. Well. I've heard some things now, and I can say the news is actually based on the reality. I don't say it's a good case though! 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Finding more schools

Yup, it isn't over yet! The interviews are still going on! I dó have 3 schools already, but it is still 50% of my goal! I've trouble at the moment finding schools who will participate. I dó have schools that can participate: I only don't know yet if they're willing to help me out. That's first thing tomorrow! Really! I promise! Why is it so difficult to just call and ask...? Emailing is far easier than calling people, but with lack of response I cannot relate to that any longer. I have to call them! All interviews need to be held before the month of July. So, calling schools. Will it be a problem? I'm finding out tomorrow :)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Interviews part 2

The pressure I felt 2 weeks ago is slowly going away. Back then, I only had a couple of email addresses and school telephone numbers obtained from the schools' websites. Now, 2 weeks later, I'm 7 interviews later and have already planned 4 more. The interviews are going well; the more I do the better I'm aware of what I should now and ask the person, and where to intervene.

Although, working it out does cost a lot of time. That's why I didn't post yesterday. Normally I would prepare a post on the Sunday before, but this time I was working out the interviews of previous week. This week I've planned 6 interviews, and have to contact another school, for I've only interviews on 3 schools yet. I really would like to obtain 6 schools for my interview. Mainly because per school it seems impossible to speak to 6 different persons - I've had two cancellations (both women actually). They argued that when I spoke to person x, there would be no need to speak to her also.. And the other argument is that they are really busy with exams and stuff.

So, I will keep this post short, for I have to work out 2 interviews now and have another at 4pm today.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Sorry for the delay: I've been on a one day tour yesterday and it was fun!

Finally things are happening. The last week I've been busy mainly with mailing schools and persons who can be interviewed. One school told me they only took requests from former students, so I could cancel that one.  It got me a bit nervous.. the first school I approached said 'no'. Luckily, I found another school in the area that fulfilled all necessary preconditions. A school that indeed wanted to help out! I have had one interview yet, and planned 2. My goal is to speak to four or six employees per school location. 

Another school also want to help out, so I've planned 2 interviews there also. Besides that, it is really time consuming to wait for a reaction, when you don't have a telephone number. Or, when people misread their own appointments and have to change the schedule. 

There is a lot to do actually: I need to type out the interviews I had, and that is really time consuming. I think I can upgrade my notes a bit more than I do now, that will save me time... 

For the research proposal: no reactions yet. I send another mail to the teacher asking him if the mail was sent right. Within 10 minutes I got his reaction that he will look into it soon.. Well, my interview appointments are more fixed than this promise.. I shall see, until then I will be busy with performing my research!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Interview questions

And I'm moving on! Last week I've handed over the research proposal, so hopefully that will be the last thing  you hear about it :) Last week, I've worked very hard on the interview questions, which are ready by now! I'm sending them to my mentor today so he can take a look at it.

The questions for the interviews exist out of general information, student placement (accept students, differences between students and their possible consequences, the transfer from the primary to the secondary education) and student counseling (assistance in their learning process, student tracking, care guidance and education).

This week I will call the schools and plan interviews with empoyees there! The schools I've chosen are schools in the area, which are located in cities and exist of VMBO (the theoretical learning route) Havo, Atheneum and Gymnasium in one. There have been some problems with those locations: there are not many of them: only 6 schools have all those preconditions. So that's why I will visit 6 schools. I will speak to more than one person in a school though, when it is possible.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Variables come to life

In my previous post I told you about the variables that I'm going to use. The picture beneath actually looks like what I'm intending to find out with my research!

Although it is in Dutch, it is easy to follow: In the Netherlands, students are put in one of three levels at the age of 12. These differences in education give smart and less intelligent students the chance to work on their own level.  That's the VMBO (4 years), the Havo (5 years) and the VWO (6 years). After that, tertiary education can be followed. First, there can be (if the school chose to do so) 'doubled' classes, in which VMBO/Havo and Havo/VWO are mixed. In that way, students who were labelled VMBO have the chance to prove themselves and work up to Havo when they're able to.

What this picture want us to show, is that between the several streams like Havo and VMBO is in the higher years also a stream from left to right. That means that some pupils (6% of the VMBO students in this case) are good enough to follow education on the Havo (after their VMBO diploma).
The red arrow is a problematic one, all those percentages are students who drop out.
The dark blue shows the percentage of graduates.

The picture comes from a research of the education, culture and science ministry (find HERE in Dutch) that did research to the arrows shown above. My research will look into the 'why' beneath it: why are students held back? Or drop out? I'm hoping to find out in the interviews!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Final research proposal

It's kind of easy actually. I was way thinking too much and wanting too much. The elements I've chosen for my research are that big that only a group of researchers which spend years on it can accomplish it. Well, I'm not trying to do that, so I've cut in my research variables. It really clears the air, for I can see the path again :)

First, I've had to let go of some very interesting variables namely giftedness and under achieving. These elements will pass by, but only as a really small piece and not as a main variable.

And, finally my (I'm afraid to call it definitive, but it is actually definitive) main research question:

''In what way does the placement policy of secondary schools, in the field of determination and student counseling, affect the throughput of students?''
(In Dutch: ''Op welke wijze heeft het schoolbeleid op het gebied van determinatie en leerlingbegeleiding invloed op de doorstroom van leerlingen?'')

In which throughput stands for the numbers of: grade retention, demotion (and up-promotion to another higher school level) and drop out.

So, the dependable variables are: grade retention, demotion and drop out.
The independable variables are: placement policy and student counseling.

I expect to finish the final research proposal in a couple of days!

Monday, April 8, 2013

The use of theory

Last Friday the meeting with my mentor took place. The conversation was instructive, and my motivation is put back on!

We talked among other things about the use of literature in research, which, so it seems I didn't completely understand in the last couple of years. My use of literature was mostly practical. I used it to read about a certain subject or to clarify a definitions for an assignment. Oh, and when a teacher asked for a piece of theory about a certain subject, you just write something about it with the subject in it. Using literature hadn't meant more to me than that.

It seems I missed something. Literature (and mainly theory 'made' in literature articles) can be used to precisely define the structure of your own research. It may seem very logical, but for me it is not. There's more literature can give you. Reading is not only to get to know the subject, but also to get informed about the pros and cons that arose from research. These different conclusions about different elements that will play a role in my own research can be used to make a frame of theory in where the rules are laid out. The frame can tell me if it is, for example, important to take into account the size of a school, or the fact that all teachers are woman, or that schools have only one school level (like the Gymnasia) of have different school levels. This will help me to choose the elements that matters.

When someone is reading your research, one does not only know exactly what literature you used, but also how it's put together. And, how you combined and shaped different elements of those various researches. This together makes a new variation of building blocks, from were a new building element (my research) can be added. The conclusions from my research can be used for other research, in where my new building block can be added to the wall of theory they will build.

Monday, April 1, 2013


I've been busy with not graduating activities the last week, and with Easter there hasn't been much study related tasks either. Though, I run into a classmate in the train a couple of days ago. He advised me to use the program 'atlas' for decoding interviews. With this, you're able to get insight in the amount of words spoken - how much words correspond etc. You can download a free (not time limited) trial here

So, back to normal! I want to work on several things this week - optimizing my research proposal, and discuss this with my mentor on Friday.

Monday, March 18, 2013


Still working on the shaping of the elements in my research. The search process in this research is a lot bigger (and more complex) than I had anticipated. Though it seems my progress isn't going that well, I experience that the subject of my research becomes more and more clear.

The problem is that I can't just move on to develop the interview questions. When this 'research question part' isn't clear enough, the questions won't be either. So, still working on that part :)

I will line up my research area, to give a better idea of the situation I'm in. I made a PREZI from it, to let you understand. See it here!

Please let me know what you think!

Friday, March 15, 2013


I think that underperformance is a result of underutilization.

Because when students aren't challenged enough (underutilized) they become bored. When study results are sufficient without having to learn how to learn, this will give problems when students have to do actually something for their school career later on. The motivation for learning drops, because learning to learn that isn't activated in the students brain yet, but teachers are expecting students to administer that already.

Students think they're not good enough to internalize the study material, which leads (after the demotivation to do anything for their school career) to underperformance.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Research questions - revised

I put some effort in improving the research questions. The problem is that I have still a long way to go. There is more time needed to get concrete questions that are usable.

the structure of the research is different now. You can see that in the following picture
In here there are several elements (placement policy on the one side, grade retention and switching levels as a consequence of the ''wrong'' way students are placed on the other side, and underachieving: sometimes as a consequence of the previous elements).

The student' school career isn't a part anymore. The elements of students I will look at are: if, and when, students switch levels, or repeat a year (or both). Students aren't looked at on the individual level in this research. The goal is to overtake the (maybe) general background reason for switching levels and grade retention.

Answers of the types students that are grade retentioners or who switch levels, I will hopefully receive from interviews with department leaders, who have insight in the statistics of student' school careers. I'm really interested in what they have to say about the subject!

Something different I like to share is about the foundation I voluntary work for: the City Learning Center Enschede (only Dutch). This foundation has come forth from a like-minded view about problems in the education sector, focused on the use of technical devices. The problem is that different suppliers develop tools for the education sector, that teachers can't use at all (by getting poor information, or just because it isn't what teachers need). We organize seminars about subjects related to technical devices such as social media and the use of tablets in education. I mentioned my research about this topic in the board meeting today. They think this research is very interesting for the CLC Enschede, because it gives insight in what way education can be improved.

Monday, February 25, 2013


Last week I received feedback on my research proposal. It seems that the main question does not relate to the other sub questions. the main problem was that the main themes I would like to look at (grade retention, switching levels and underachieving) aren't that clear explained  Also, the grade retention and switching levels theme is not introduced into the main research question. Now it comes out of nowhere in the rest of the research proposal. There have to made some changes then. Last week, and also this week I will be busy with making elements and questions concrete in my research proposal.

Next week I'll update the reviewed research questions for my proposal.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Research questions

the next step (besides waiting for the feedback on the research proposal) is to define interview questions. How to formulate questions that will lead me to the information I need?

First, let me present the research question:  ''How does the placement policy on secondary education in the Netherlands look like, and what is the influence on underachieving students looked at switching levels and grade retention?''

On the one side there are the obvious questions about the main elements I want to look at. These are described in the sub questions partly:
1.        Which factors can explain the subject of underachievement?
2.    What does the placement policy on middle school looks like?
3.      In what way are students guided in their school careers?

      I'm not really sure about the following questions, because they have an aspect in them of a quantitative research question. It is possible for a research to maintain both qualitative and quantitative elements in them, but I'm not sure if those elements could be obtained via interviews only. 
      On the other hand, there are certain elements mainly quantitative, like the numbers on grade retention. So, with that thought in mind I put in the following questions anyway: 

.       - Is there a relation between a certain placement policy and pass rates?
.       - Is there a relation between student guidance and changing of level and/ or grade retention?
.       - Is there a relation between a certain placement policy and changing of level and/ or grade retention?
.       - Is there a relation between student guidance and pass rates?
.       - Is there a relation between changing of level and/ or grade placement policy and pass rates?
    -Is there a relation between a certain placement policy and changing of level and/ or grade? 

     What do you think about these questions? Are they specific enough to build on?

     This week I'll make a start with interview preparations, as what questions to ask and in what way. The research method is still not completely clear on that point. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Doing research

Things have become far more structured these weeks, after speaking to a lot of people. One of the things that change is the subject. I finally have a structured subject to work with. A glimpse of that you can find here in Dutch.

In the research world, researchers are looking at the relation of a certain (undependable) X and a (dependable) Y. from that, there pop up some results and an article can be written. Also, it is important to write about relations that aren't there, in contrast to those views nowadays, that every research should find something.. Sometimes there's just nothing to be found! That's interesting also.

What I'm looking for is the x and y, to fill in for my research question. I like to research a certain relation between them. X is about the placement policy. When students leave primary education in the Netherlands, teachers/schools/parent have an opinion about the level of the student. Teachers have different guidelines for their decision for student school levels. Like test results, grades, work attitude and so on. Parents may agree or disagree with the teachers choice and can talk it over with the teacher. At the secondary education, the school has a placement policy to ensure the student is on the most right level immediately  There are 3 levels of education. The VMBO which prepares a student in 4 years for the vocational, the Havo which will prepare a student in 5 years to follow higher vocational, the Atheneum, which educates in 6 years to prepare for a university study. Also 6 years is the Gymnasium, that only differs from the Atheneum in the fact it has 2 extra languages with it (Greek and Latin) but also educates to follow a university study.

Well, the intention is to place a student as soon as possible on the best track, educational and emotional. But, why is there a problem? This is my relation between X (the placement policy) and Y (underachieving). This system of early classifying is not so optimal as it may seem. The Netherlands has the highest amount of grade retention (4th class of Havo: 18%) and when the class of 5 VWO (this is the combination of Atheneum and Gymnasium called) is asked how many are grade retentioners the answer is 22%. The OESO average lies on 14,3%, thus the Netherlands is far above that. The Inspectie van Onderwijs (2011) (The Dutch Inspectorate of Educationhas done research specified on the amount of grade retentioners per level and year. The 7th chapter of this research is dedicated to this subject. Also, here the Inspectie van Onderwijs is just ascertain it, and not going into the processes that lies beneath. Click HERE for the Dutch new article about the subject, and here for the Onderwijsraad (Education council) about underachieving (Chapter 2 and 3, in Dutch) & Onderwijsverslag 2010-2011 (start with chapter 7, in Dutch). 

That's a problem. Why do students fall out? Why do they get grade retention, and what is the reason they switch levels? With the subject of my thesis I will hopefully be able to give insight information about students who underachieve.

Next week another update!

By the way, if you're interested in the education system of the Netherlands, take a look at this (In English):  The State of Education in the Netherlands. Highlights of the 2010/2011 Education Report.