In search of young children’s voice
Executor: drs Anja Tertoolen
Supervision: Prof. Bert van Oers (VU University), dr Jeannette Geldens, dr Herman Popeijus (De Kempel Helmond)
Reform approaches to early childhood education start out from the assumption that good education should be developmentally appropriate and follow the unique child with its personal qualities. To what extent, however, can we maintain that the child can be said to be the unique owner of the voice expressed? Or is the child’s voice (partially) a reproduction of the voices of the child’s sociocultural background? If this latter is actually the case, following the unique child may then result in a (partial) reproduction of the child’s sociocultural culture.
In this project we try to establish to what extent a child’s expressed voice can indeed be considered a personal expression of the child itself. The project includes a theoretical interpretation of the concept of voice along Bachtinian lines, the construction of an assessment strategy for the analysis of a child’s voice and a comparative analysis of the child’s voice (regarding “school”) and the voices of the peers, parents, and teachers. The methodology is based on case-studies, qualitative ethnographic analyses of children’s utterances and activities.
The project will finish with a dissertation, to be defended at the VU University Amsterdam.
Tertoolen, A., van Oers, B., Geldens, J., & Popeijus, H. (2012). Building a method for researching attribution of meaning by children aged 5 to 6 in school. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 20 1, 115 - 131.
The effects of promoting musical improvisation on children’s development
Executor: Michel Hogenes (MA)
Supervision: Prof. Bert van Oers (VU University), prof. René Diekstra (Haagse Hogeschool, Den Haag)
In this project we investigate the effects of the actual involvement of children in musical improvisation and composition activities on their development in the domains of musical development, cognitive development (including intelligence and reading), and social development.  The study includes a literature review of research on the effects of music on children’s functioning, a quasi-experimental study with a pretest-posttest control group design, and a N=1 longitudinal case study.
The project outcomes will be reported in separate articles and will result in a dissertation, to be defended at the VU University Amsterdam.
Hogenes, M., van Oers, B., & Diekstra, R. (In Press/2016). The effects of music composition as a classroom activity on engagement in music education and academic and music achievement: A quasi-experimental study. International Journal of Music Education:  Research,

Hogenes, M., van Oers,B., & Diekstra, R. (2014). The child as composer. The US China Education Review,4(3),  149 – 162.

Hogenes, M. , van Oers, B., & Diekstra, R. (2014). The impact of music on child functioning. The European Journal of Social & Behavioural Sciences. .

The development of mathematical notions in preschool children
Executor: Maulfry Worthington (MSc)
Supervision: Prof. Bert van Oers (VU University Amsterdam)
This projects studies the process of how young preschool children (3 year olds) invent ways of communication about mathematical (quantitative) aspects of their situation (in the context of their play activities), and how the resulting notions evolve into more elaborated mathematical ones.
The methodology of the study is based on longitudinal multiple case-studies, and ethnographic descriptions of children’s utterances and activities.
The project outcomes will be reported in separate articles and will result in a dissertation (in Dutch), to be defended at the VU University Amsterdam.
Worthington, M. & van Oers, B. (In Press/2016). Pretend play and the cultural foundations of mathematics. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 24(3),

Schematizing and early mathematical thinking.
Executor: drs Mariëlle Poland
Supervision: prof. Bert van Oers, prof Jan Terwel (VU University Amsterdam)
This project started in 2002 and ended in 2007. It was funded by the Dutch Foundation for Scientific Research (NWO, see
The main objective of the research project is to investigate the role of schematising by young children for the development of their mathematical thinking. The research is a follow-up on the studies of B van Oers regarding young children’s schematising (see van Oers, 1994; 1996; 2001).
 It is a longitudinal study at six schools with 132 pupils. The study is based on a quasi-experimental Pre-test – post-test design with experimental and control groups.
During the first year of the study children in the experimental group (grade 2 of Dutch primary school, age 5-6) were engaged in different schematising activities in the context of their everyday play. The schemes consisted of static schemes (like maps, construction drawings), and dynamic types (like translations, transformations using arrows and other symbols that signify change).
In the second year the pupils were studied in their mathematics lessons (grade three, ages 6-7), both with regard to their abilities of appropriating mathematical operations, mathematical symbols, number concept, and to the processes of mathematics learning.
Our expectation is that pupils from the experimental group with much experience and practice in the use of dynamic scheme will outperform the pupils from the control groups on mathematical operations, number concept, symbolising.
The data our currently under analysis. PhD dissertation is succesfully defended 11 October 2007:
M. Poland (2007). The Treasures of schematising.Dissertation Amsterdam: VU..
See also:
Poland, M. & van Oers, B. (2007). Effects of schematising on mathematical development.European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 15,  2, 269 – 293.
Dijk, E.F., van Oers, B., & Terwel, J. (2004).Schematising in early mathematics education. Why, when and how? European Early Childhood Educations Research Journal, vol.12, nr 3, 71 – 83.
Differentiation strategies of teachers working with at-risk pupils
Executors: drs Isabel Peters, prof Bert van Oers (VU University Amsterdam)
Starting point of the research is the supposition that teachers enter into goal-oriented interactions with their pupils in the classroom in order to move pupils closer to the desired learning goals. These goal-oriented interactions are one kind of the teachers’ educational means to realise their teaching effectively and in a personal way, and to realise differentiated interactions with the pupils in their classrooms. This research aims at getting a deeper understanding in the ways teachers tailor their interactions to the needs of the pupils, especially with regard to the pupils they consider to be ‘at- risk’. The research is carried out as a series of case studies of teachers in grade 3 and 4 (in the Dutch education system about 6 – 7 year olds). The continuity of learning trajectories in the domains of language and maths is included as a special focus.
The research is financed by the Dutch Platform WSNS+ and is related to a Project ‘Action Oriented Diagnostics’ of the Catholic Pedagogical Centre (supervised by drs Yvonne Leenders). This centre currently also carries out pilot studies for the implementation of this Action oriented didactical strategy.
The first intermediate report of this project was presented in August 2006.
Project is finished by December 2007.
See: Peters, I. & van Oers, B. (2007). Teachers’ action strategies in goal-oriented interactions with young children at-risk.European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, vol. 15,  1, 121 – 136.
Developmental Education school as learning organisations
Executor: drs Hans Bakker
Supervision: Prof Bert van Oers , Prof. Siebren Miedema (VU University Amsterdam)
Developmental Education (in Dutch: Ontwikkelingsgericht Onderwijs) is an educational concept based on Vygotskij’s Cultural-Historical Theory. The concept is applied in an increasing number of schools in the Netherlands since the late1980s. One of the basic tenets in the concept is that promoting optimal identity development in children, necessarily implies improving the circumstances for learning and development for both pupils and teachers.  Hence the schools should be involved in permanent processes of institutional optimalisation and professionalization. In other words: Developmental Education schools finally have to evolve into learning organisations themselves.
This project provides an analysis of the concept of ‘Learning Organisation’ from the perspectives of the Cultural-historical Activity Theory and the related theory of Developmental Education: What are the essential requirements for Developmental Education schools in order to be genuine learning organisations. Some of the identified requirements will be illustrated with data drawn for case-studies in Developmental Education schools.
The methodology of the research is based on a combination of conceptual analysis and theory-driven case-studies.
The project outcomes will be reported in separate articles and will result in a dissertation, to be defended at the VU University Amsterdam (2012). Dissertation project is finished in 2015.
Bakker, H. (2012). Developmental education schools as learning organisations. In B. van Oers (ed.). Developmental Education for young children. Concept, practice, and implementation (Ch 16). Berlin/New York: Springer.

Bakker, H. (2015). Expansief leren van een schoolorganisatie (Dissertation). Assen: van Gorcum.