My publications

Recent international publications

Find below my five most recent international publications. At the bottom of the page, links to all my publications can be found, ordered by topic.

2020  A randomized field experiment using self-reflection on school behavior to help students in secondary school reach their performance potential
Frontiers in psychology – Personality and Social Psychology, accepted for publication
Recent policy reports documented that a growing group of students in secondary education could perform better given their expected performance. Studies showed that school performance is related to a range of social-emotional factors, including self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and responsible decision making. However, experimental studies in schools on the relation between these factors and school performance are scarce and results are mixed. This study used a randomized field experiment to examine whether self-reflection on school behavior of underperforming secondary school students affected their school performance (GPA), school engagement and self-concept. The sample comprised 337 9th grade students (M = 15.74 years old; SD = 0.58) from 18 secondary schools in the Netherlands. The intervention was designed in co-creation with teachers, to be as close to school practice as possible. Underperformance was measured using achievement test scores from both primary and secondary school, supplemented with teacher and parental assessments. Different model specifications were estimated to perform the analyses, and test for robustness of findings. The results showed that for treatment compliance, students with higher school motivation were approximately 29 percent more likely to comply. Students who reported higher levels of self-concept of school tasks were 17 percent less likely to comply. No significant effects of the treatment were observed on students’ GPA, school motivation, hours spent on homework or self-concept of school tasks. The treatment showed a negative effect on self-concept of leadership skills.

2019  Positive social relationships with peers and teachers as moderators of the Big-Fish-Little-Pond Effect
Learning and Individual Differences, 70:21-29.
Students’ academic self-concepts (ASCs) are largely formed relative to the ability of their reference group. The Big-Fish-Little-Pond Effect (BFLPE), according to which equally able students have lower ASCs in high-achieving classrooms than in low-achieving ones, is extremely robust. Social relationships are known to be important for self-perception. This study aims at analyzing social relationships as potential moderators of the BFLPE, focusing on two core partners in classrooms: peers and teachers. Multilevel structural equation modeling was applied to test the moderator hypotheses, drawing on data from a sample of N=7004 secondary school students. Whereas no support was found for a moderating effect of peer relationships, data supported the assumed moderation of the BFLPE through student-teacher relationships. Students with positive teacher relations experienced smaller BFLPEs than students with negative or average teacher relations. The study illustrates how relationships moderate frame of reference effects that are central to the formation of ASCs.

2016  The Healthy Primary School of the Future: Study protocol of a quasi-experimental study
BMC Public Health, 16(1).
Unhealthy lifestyles in early childhood are a major global health challenge. These lifestyles often persist from generation to generation and contribute to a vicious cycle of health-related and social problems. This design article presents a study evaluating the effects of two novel healthy school interventions. The main outcome measure will be changes in children’s body mass index (BMI). In addition, lifestyle behaviours, academic achievement, child well-being, socio-economic differences, and societal costs will be examined. In close collaboration with various stakeholders, a quasi-experimental study was developed, for which children of four intervention schools (n = 1200) in the southern part of the Netherlands are compared with children of four control schools (n = 1200) in the same region. The interventions started in November 2015. In two of the four intervention schools, a whole-school approach named ‘The Healthy Primary School of the Future’, is implemented with the aim of improving physical activity and dietary behaviour. For this intervention, pupils are offered an extended curriculum, including a healthy lunch, more physical exercises, and social and educational activities, next to the regular school curriculum. In the two other intervention schools, a physical-activity school approach called ‘The Physical Activity School’, is implemented, which is essentially similar to the other intervention, except that no lunch is provided. The interventions proceed during a period of 4 years. Apart from the effectiveness of both interventions, the process, the cost-effectiveness, and the expected legal implications are studied. Data collection is conducted within the school system. The baseline measurements started in September 2015 and yearly follow-up measurements are taking place until 2019.

2016  Does the teacher beat the test? The additional value of teacher assessment in predicting student ability
De Economist, 164(4): 391-418.
eftsbwThis research investigates to what extent the subjective teacher’s assessment of children’s ability predicts children’s outcomes in the transition from primary to secondary school in terms of initial track allocation, track switching in the first three years of secondary education and subsequent test scores. We apply micro-data from the Netherlands about cognitive test scores and teacher’s assessment in primary schools and about track placement, track switching and test scores in secondary schools. Our estimates suggest that the subjective teacher’s assessment is about twice as important as the primary school cognitive test scores for initial track placement in secondary school. In addition, the teacher’s assessment is more predictive of track allocation in 9th grade compared to cognitive test scores. Next, children who switch tracks are more likely to be placed in tracks based on test scores. Also, test scores in 9th grade are predicted by the subjective teacher’s assessment, not by test scores in 6th grade.

2016  Experimentalism in Dutch education policy: Experiences and lessons learnt
In OECD, Governing education in a complex world, Paris: OECD.
Policy experimentation has the potential to be an effective instrument for policy making in a complex environment. This chapter discusses the experience of the Netherlands, which has engaged in active policy experimentation for the last decade, and distils lessons learned.
Starting with the underlying rationale of policy experimentation in education, the chapter examines the scope of experimentation and innovation in the Dutch education system and describes examples of the various forms of experiments carried out as well as dilemmas and lessons related to experimentation. The role of education practitioners, ensuring schools’ capacity as well as knowledge dissemination are found as critical for successful experimentation.

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