Our department has a strong research profile in four interrelated themes:
Theme 1: understanding and supporting formal and informal learning before and during college and in the workplace, taking a socio-cognitive perspective;
Theme 2: assessment as a tool for learning;
Theme 3: faculty staff development;
Theme 4: role of e-tools in supporting learning and instruction.
We focus on learning in and for the professions, conducting studies in school programs as well as workplace settings. Many of our studies are conducted in close cooperation with organizations.
Theme 1: Understanding and supporting formal and informal learning before and during college and in the workplace, taking a socio-cognitive perspective.
To a growing extent organizations are dealing with a variety of challenges. One example is the increasing competitive environment where continuous innovation and globalization are playing a key role. In this respect, more than before, human capital is the main asset of organizations. Given the dynamic environment of organizations, investment in human capital implies a strategic approach of supporting employees’ professional development. A key question is: what are the optimal conditions for employees to continuously learn in order to update their competencies? In our research program, we study this question from a socio-cognitive perspective. In different projects, we address the phenomenon of team learning, aiming to understand the interpersonal conditions and the team learning processes that influence team learning outcomes and team performance. Moreover, we focus on informal learning in the workplace, more specifically how professionals’ feedback seeking behavior contributes to their performance, expertise growth and career development.
However, expertise development does not start in the workplace but is significantly influenced by the level of expertise gained during the school period. In our research program, we study how different features of cooperative learning environments (face-to-face, blended and virtual) enhance students’ expertise development, taking into account students’ motivation and study approaches.
Theme 2: Assessment as a tool for learning.
When organizing conditions for learners to continuously develop in order to update their competencies, schools as well as organizations use a variety of modes of assessment. Although there is a long tradition of using assessment for selective purposes, there is increasing evidence of the power of assessment to support and foster learning. Different projects in our research program take this Assessment for Learning perspective. They address how the implementation of Assessment for Learning practices foster student as well as employees learning. More concretely, the implementation of portfolio assessment and the use of Personal Development plans as part of the assessment cycle are studied in order to unravel optimal conditions for these modes of assessment to foster learning.
Theme 3: Faculty staff development.
The educational staff plays a crucial role in the expertise development of students. Given our focus on cooperative learning environments, a crucial question is which roles and approaches contribute to student’s learning processes and in turn their expertise growth. Moreover, insight is needed in how to support the faculty staff in their professional development. For example, does staff that has been participating in staff development programs continue to update their competencies by seeking feedback from colleagues? How can e-learning tools support staff in the development of their competencies as a tutor? These topics are addressed in different projects.
Theme 4: The role of e-tools in supporting learning and instruction.
The advancements in technology have challenged those involved in education and training & development to look for new ways to support students’ as well as professionals’ learning. Our research program focuses on the current landscape of adult formal as well as informal learning using digital technologies. We aim to understand how the features of blended and virtual learning environments contribute to the sharing and creation of knowledge among team members. As in the aforementioned research themes, our core focus is on the (cooperative) learning processes that contribute to learning and in turn to expertise development.