Learning Sciences

Course descriptions

Obligatory courses 

Learning and Instruction

In this course, you will be introduced to the psychological principles of learning and instruction, ranging from basic theories of learning reading, writing, math and science to means of fostering learning by means of instruction in the widest sense of the word. Instruction includes giving feedback, design of learning activities, providing examples and supporting collaborative learning and problem solving. Finally, you will discover how these theories can be utilized in the design of learning environments.

Learning and Individual Differences: Assessment and Intervention

This course will give you an overview of the most common forms of assessment, diagnostics and related (instructional) interventions in Dutch primary and secondary education. You will cover both formative and summative assessment on a group level as well as individual assessment when learning impairments are suspected. The central theme will be how assessment informs the design of interventions in both cases. You will also look at different assessment instruments, for example, achievement tests, intelligence tests, specific language and math tests, and neuropsychological tests. Examples of interventions are individual mediation (e.g. by a remedial teacher or learning specialist), and adaptive, stand-alone (ICT-based) learning environments. You will also learn about the scientific development of diagnostic instruments and interventions in the domain of education.

Innovative Technology-based Learning Environments

Two leading questions in this course are:

  • Is learning with technology more effective than learning without technology?
  • How can we successfully implement and integrate innovative, technology-based learning environments in the school, classroom, or workplace? 

This course explores the field of educational technology from different perspectives, including those of schools, teachers and students. You will discuss theories of learning, instruction, and performance, looking at examples of innovative, technology-based learning environments. As a student, you will take on the perspective of one or more stakeholders in assignments centring on the selection, implementation, and integration of educational technology. Topics will include: 

  • What is educational technology?
  • Learning and performing, teaching and training
  • Technology support for learning, instruction, and performance
  • Planning and implementation of technology-based learning environments

Adaptivity in Learning and Instruction

This course focuses on the use of psychological research methods and instruments in educational practice. Specifically, the course addresses two core questions: (1) how can learner characteristics, learning outcomes, and learning activities be validly assessed in educational practice, and (2) how can these assessments shape the design of adaptive (technology-enhanced) learning environments? Through a series of lectures and tutorials, you will be introduced to various types of tests and assessments, their psychometric properties, and actual application in regular classrooms. You will also learn how teachers and instructional designers use assessment data to develop and deliver instruction that is sensitive to the needs of individual learners. 

Course descriptions elective courses

Cognition and Technical Systems

The Cognition and Technical Systems course focusses on the way in which insight in human cognition influences the design of technical systems. This will be elaborated for the domains of Intelligent Systems (Quartile 1A) and Traffic Psychology (Quartile 2A). In the domain of Intelligent Systems, the focus will be on how systems can be made more intelligent, based on knowledge of human cognition. This is increasingly important for the design of systems that access the web, make independent decisions, or that are creative (as is the case with gaming). With respect to Traffic Psychology, the focus will be on how the knowledge we have of cognitive processes, such as perception, attention, learning, memory, decision-making and acting, can be used for designing optimal traffic systems. You will also look at the effects on driving behaviour of telephoning, fatigue, aging and drugs. 

Design of Persuasive Health Technology

In this course, you will gain insight into the possibilities of the latest health technologies, such as personal mobile sensors, virtual coaching applications, serious games, smart glasses and wearables. Special attention will be given to the question of how to reach ‘hard-to-reach’ populations – such as low SES groups, adolescents and illiterates – by applying the strategies of Entertainment-Education (EE). You will also apply the principles of diffusion of innovation.

In this course, you will learn how to design engaging technology for real health problems in a multidisciplinary team. You will apply persuasive design theory and entertainment education strategies to support health and well-being. The project assignments will be linked to the research projects going on at our Centre for eHealth & Wellbeing. Your team will create and evaluate a prototype and substantiate it in a (group) paper covering relevant literature on the design of persuasive system design and strategies for entertainment education. The course will culminate in a Demo Pitch. 

Risk and Leadership in Societal and Technological Contexts

Failing leadership and risk communication have recently gained much attention in popular media. An example of disputed risk communication was the low uptake of the HPV vaccine offered to 12-13 year old girls in 2009 in the Netherlands. An alleged important characteristic of the resulting controversy was neither anticipated nor adequately dealt with, viz. the online interaction through social media undermining the trust in the RIVM (health institute) experts. To be able to explain the psychological processes that might have taken place, this course will focus on the many facets of leadership, risk communication and crises against a societal and technological background. Based on a number of recent crises, you will become familiar with leadership and risk communication theories that might provide an explanation for the development of these crises. 

Designing Learning & Performance Support

In this course, you will engage in a challenging design task aimed at creating effective instructions for enabling people to do things quickly. For instance, you might design instructions on using a cash register, web searching and or designing online help. You can select your own topic and context for this task. As is the case with creating job aids, you will develop instructions that enable people to self-regulate their actions. You will adopt a systematic approach and report on your the progress. During seminars, you will be introduced to the three main components of the course, namely: 

  • theories & design guidelines
  • exercises
  • student progress reports 

During the final session, your product will be displayed and your design trajectories presented and discussed, along with those of your fellow students.

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