Part of the
Centre for
Engineering Education
TU DelftTU EindhovenUniversity of TwenteWageningen University
Centre for
Engineering Education


+31(0)6 48 27 55 61


Project introduction and background information

This NRO practice-oriented research project studies how teachers learn in the context of educational innovations in higher education. The project is a collaboration among a wide range of partners in higher education in The Netherlands covering more than 15 institutions, including universities, universities of applied sciences and network institutions such as 4TU.CEE.  

Higher education in The Netherlands is in the midst of a host of innovations in teaching and learning: Learning analytics, personalized learning pathways, flipped classrooms, competency based teaching, collaborative learning in interdisciplinary projects, challenge-based learning, and technology enhanced learning are only a few examples of such innovations. These innovations require different roles from teachers. Unfortunately, in the introduction and evaluation of such innovations what teachers learn and what skills, knowledge, views and identities they (need to) acquire is hardly ever taken along. Research on teacher professional learning and development in higher education is still in its infancy. A variety of professional development initiatives is being practiced, for instance workshops, teacher research, learning through reflection, peer coaching, ‚Äėscholarship of teaching and learning‚Äô programmes, lesson studies, learning communities and networked learning. A solid research base founded on research about whether, how and why different approaches work in different contexts, however, is lacking. Moreover, research on teacher professional development is often disconnected from research on student learning.

Objective and expected outcomes

This research project aims to answer the question whether, how and why different approaches to teacher professional learning and development work for different innovations, contexts and populations. This will be done by conducting a literature study, conducting a broad as well as an in-depth study of existing cases, and an intervention study, in which data will be collected on the innovation (context), teacher activities, support for teachers, teachers’ learning and the effect on students.

More specifically, this research focusses on the following research questions:

  1. What expertise/competencies do teachers need to learn, work and innovate in new educational settings in higher education? 
  2. How do teachers learn and develop in the context of educational innovations, and how is this affected by individual and contextual factors?
  3. How can teachers be supported in their learning and professional development in the context of educational innovations? 
  4. What are the effects of different forms of professionalisation and learning on the expertise, professional identity, motivation and practices of teachers, on the learning of students, and on the educational organisation?

Results and learnings

Updates and (preliminary) results will be posted on this page. 

A variety of outlets and formats will be used to communicate the results to different audiences, including educational professionals, universities (incl. universities of applied sciences), teachers, students, and the (global) scientific community.  

Besides the research results, the collaboration and knowledge exchange that results from this research consortium (with partners from more than 15 institutions in higher education in The Netherlands) form an important yield of this project.