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Blog: Please allow me to introduce myself

By: Jennifer Schijf, PhD-student at the University of Groningen
09 May 2019

Hi students of the Steven Hawking cohort!

Have you already met that researcher who’s cycling across Groningen with a bag full of surveys and candy bars ? That is me, Jennifer! Nice meeting you offline and online. The last couples of weeks I have travelled across the city to meet as many of you as possible (others will see me the next couple of weeks). And of course to collect data for my PhD research project. In this blog I further introduce myself to you.

Let’s start with some personal details. I’m a 31 year old PhD student, who recently moved from Amsterdam to Groningen. After studying Sociology and Educational Sciences in Amsterdam, I decided to leave academia and to apply for a job as a policy officer. If you would have told me about 1,5 year ago that I would return to academia and even move to Groningen, I would not have believed you. But sometimes life surprises you! In my case it all started at my 30th birthday. Nice cliff-hanger right? In one of my previous blogs you can read why I started with my PhD study.

I am part of the Research Group Higher Education (Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences) and our group conducts research on all kinds of topics related to (of course) higher education. We research for example how we can improve students’ transition from secondary education to higher education, how we can fosters student collaboration in international classrooms and we are interested in university students’ well-being. Besides that we focus on teaching in higher education and do research on how university lecturers develop themselves as teaching professionals.

I am also doing research on higher education students, more precisely on… you! The next couple of years I will follow you as a group of students to learn more about your academic development within the Honours College programme. About ten years ago the University of Groningen started with its Honours College programme and it has become a well-known and highly appreciated programme. However, what we do not exactly know is what the programme brings you in terms of your learning experiences and outcomes. We will therefore follow you during the full programme to get a better understanding of how you precisely develop yourselves during the courses and in what manner the programme adds knowledge and skills to your regular Bachelor’s degree.

The research project is set up as PhD project, which means that I will work on this project for 4 years in order to become a doctor (dr. or PhD) in Educational Sciences. I started in March 2018 and hope to finish it in March 2022. I chose for a mixed method study and will therefore collect quantitative data (surveys) and qualitative data (interviews, observations). For you, the research journey started with a survey, which I also tested on second year honours students last November. I wrote a short blog on that pilot study. Based on the findings of last November I made some alterations. With this survey we aim to get a closer view on your learning interest and needs and the background characteristics of honours students. I am really happy to see that so many of you are willing to help us with our study. I promise you that the next surveys will be shorter!

In September we will meet each other again. Then I will dive into the Broadening Modules to see in what way these modules challenge you and how these modules contribute to your interdisciplinary learning process. One of our research methods in that study will be interviews. In the meantime I will analyse the data I have collected so far and start writing the first research article about this project. I will keep you posted about the first results.

Enjoy your honours experience!

Kind regards,

Jennifer Schijf

May you have any questions about the research project, feel free to contact me!

Last modified:09 May 2019 4.21 p.m.

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