ELAN is the University of Twente Institute for Teacher Training and Professional Development. Its main mission is to empower and equip teachers for continuous learning, both in formal and informal learning settings.

The research program of ELAN is based on the premise that the quality of the teacher is one of the most important influences of student achievement. Therefore, to improve education, it is essential to focus on the role of the teacher as learning professional. The focus of our research is predominantly (but not exclusively) on equipping and empowering teachers with the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and motivation needed to provide innovative and engaging education for their students in a wide context, ranging from primary education to higher education. ELAN’s research focuses on both science education and science-related societal issues.

ELAN’s overarching research theme may be summarized as follows:

How can teachers and other professionals be equipped to teach science and science-related societal issues in inspiring and innovative ways?

This leads to research that focuses on:


Teachers' knowledge of, skills in, and attitudes towards formal and informal collaborative, inquiry-based, and contextualized (science) education;


The development and evaluation of programs, interventions, and tools that foster collaborative, inquiry-based, and contextualized (science) learning, with a specific focus on teacher performance and the effects of this performance on students’ learning.

We pursue methods of professional development that can make a difference. These methods build on the assumptions that collaboration among professionals and active creation or redesign of educational materials and lesson scenarios do not only lead to new ways of teaching, but also to teacher professional development. The conditions and results of these new approaches towards professional development are assessed using both qualitative and quantitative methods. Validated instruments are used, or developed when needed. Our research leads to a more thorough understanding of implementing teacher professional development. Through collaboration with (teams of) practitioners we bridge the gap between theory and practice in a natural way.

This document outlines ELAN’s research program. The different sections provide some background on the needs and methods of the research as well as the research questions underlying the program and the manner in which the program is divided into different sub-parts.

The complete ELAN research program can be downloaded here.