“My job is to make distance learning available, and to eventually make education more interactive and adaptive.”
“After completing the Master’s in Psychology with a specialisation in Educational Psychology, I soon found a job as an educational scientist at IVIO@School. This organisation offers distance learning to pupils in secondary education with a specific learning need. For example, we help schools by providing a broader range of courses that they cannot offer to their pupils. But we can also help in providing personalised education when pupils are left at home due to their situation. And of course, with our expertise, we were able to advise schools on setting up distance learning during lockdowns during the corona pandemic.
Developing and innovating lesson materials
I work in the Research & Development (R&D) Department, in which I coordinate the development process of (both digital and paper) lesson folders. These folders serve as support for the ‘regular’ teaching material, guiding students through it. More than this, our team is continuously working on improvements and innovations, aiming to make education more interactive and adaptive. This is where the knowledge I gained during the specialisation in Learning Sciences comes in: connecting the individual learning needs of students with technical interventions.
What I find interesting about my job field, is that you constantly have to consider carefully whether an adaptation or innovation should be implemented. A lot of research is being done on effective education and some innovation might seem promising, but it often still has to prove itself in practice. Will a certain innovation really contribute to the quality of education? And, moreover, what impact will it have on other facets? If, for example, you want to make full use of adaptive education, this also means a shift in the roles and tasks of teachers. These are important challenges to deal with.
Transition to a research university
Even though I had some doubts about studying at a research university, I am very glad that I took the step toward the Master’s in Psychology at the University of Twente. I’ll admit, the transition was big, as I did a bachelor’s at a university of applied sciences (hbo in Dutch). Instead of learning chapters for an exam, I now had to study an entire book. I remember thinking: how on earth am I going to do this? But my teacher advised me to not study material too literally: it’s about understanding it and applying it to other situations.
Adjusting to this new way of learning, including the level of academic English – which isn’t my best quality – and statistics, was quite a challenge. But this was mainly the case in the pre-master’s, which is aimed at preparing you for scientific education more generally. Once I had completed the pre-master’s and started the actual Master’s, I knew that it was totally worth it. The courses that followed were so interesting, with many interesting cases and practical examples that made the subjects way more tangible.
To anyone hesitant to make the switch from hbo to university, I would like to say: just go for it! As a student who never got high grades, I never thought I would be able to go to university. But under the guise of ‘if you don’t try, you don’t know’, I took the step anyway. And look at where I am now!”