How can we develop the best athletes? How can teachers nurture pupils' talent and creativity in education and music? And how can we improve the selection of talented and creative employees, students, and athletes?
In any achievement domain, there is an increasing focus on the development, selection, and promotion of talent and creativity. In this unique, internationally-oriented Master's programme you will develop the expertise to select, develop, and nurture talent and creativity in individuals and organizations across achievement domains.
You will learn about the (psychological) factors that explain talent and creativity, and directly put this knowledge into practice. You will learn coaching skills to enhance people’s personal and professional potential. Furthermore, you will get in touch with organizations from different industries, sports clubs, and schools, that aim to improve the selection and development of talent and creativity.
In your Master’s thesis and internship you will carry out a project on the selection and development of talent and/or creativity in the achievement domain that interests you most.
I want to spend my time helping other people to develop and feel good about themselves. I'd like to make a difference, even if it is a small one.
Mariëlle Ottens was keen to develop her talents as a sports psychologist. During an introductory meeting with coordinator Ruud den Hartigh, she expressed her interest in sports psychology and explained that she came from a passionate footballing family. The Master’s coordinator tried to find a suitable placement for all his students, and put Mariëlle forward for a spell at FC Groningen. ‘A perfect match!’, laughs Mariëlle.
Most internships last one semester, but she was allowed to stay at the football club for a whole year. She spent the second half of the internship working on her personal development. ‘I was at the club three days a week and I worked from home one day a week, doing things for the club alongside my studies.’
Her research and internship were part of the ‘Resilient athletes: A multidisciplinary personalized approach’ project, in which researchers use data to try to predict the resilience of elite athletes. She spent the first half of the year focusing on the internship, and the second half on her thesis.
To generate data for the research, players wear a sensor vest
while training and completed a questionnaire twice a day.
Mariëlle developed a system for converting the data so that
the researchers could monitor the players as they trained. The
answers received were converted into visualizations.
‘Every week, I analysed the deviant patterns. ‘If one of the players’ patterns looked different from usual, I discussed the matter with the sports psychologist and the sports scientist. We tried to find an explanation based on things that we knew that the player was experiencing at that time, and discussed whether we should talk to him about it.’
Mariëlle conducted her research in the youth training scheme, which includes players from the ‘under-12’ to the ‘under-21’ teams. The TCM (trainer/coach/manager) and an assistant are jointly responsible for the players. An interdisciplinary team of specialists consisting of a sports scientist, a sports psychologist, and a data scientist assists the team. Mariëlle was part of this team of specialists.
But she wanted to learn more and asked the club if she could take on more specific tasks to gain practical experience alongside her research. The club allowed her to observe players’ behaviour and talk to the players about it. The knowledge acquired in her coaching course of the Talent Development and Creativity programme proved to be particularly useful.
She devised workshops for several youth teams, which she gave at the beginning and the end of the year. This enabled her to train her presentation skills. As she enthusiastically explains herself: ‘The players really got to grips with the assignments I had set up. At the end of the year, I discovered that all players had progressed towards their goals, simply by being aware of the goals that they had set themselves previously. It was great to see that something I had set up actually works in practice.’
Thanks to good planning, Mariëlle managed to combine her internship with her studies, although the exam periods were very busy. She therefore tried to ensure that any deadlines for her internship were always set after her exams, so that she could focus on one thing at a time. She comments: ‘Fortunately, FC Groningen was very flexible. If I was unable to do something due to study pressure, they temporarily redistributed my tasks.’
Her internship taught her that she enjoys switching between
different projects. ‘I find it invigorating. Being busy
isn’t a problem if you enjoy everything you’re
doing.’ She also realized how important it is to take the
initiative. For example, she asked to be given extra tasks, and
then had to work out exactly what to do and how to do it.
‘When I started my internship, I was full of ideas about things I wanted to do, but my supervisors reined me in, explaining that I’d never be able do them all at once. That was an important lesson for me: you can do all sorts of things, but you have to pace yourself when passing on knowledge.’
Mariëlle has now completed her internship and found a job as a behavioural scientist/family coordinator. She works for Team050, the healthcare organization where she has spent three years supervising children with behavioural problems. Her next task is to arrange care and supervision for families and children with non-standard behaviour. She is still interested in sports psychology, but full-time jobs in this sector are hard to come by at the moment. She is considering following the post-Master's programme in Sport and Performance Psychology in Groningen, but only after she has gained some job experience. The youth care sector appeals to her because it has a lot of common ground with sports psychology. Both sectors involve helping children and young people to develop.
Last year, she realized that she thrives on change in her work, and that it is important to do things that she really enjoys.
‘I want to spend my time helping other people to develop and feel good about themselves. I’d like to make a difference, even if it is a small one.’
During my studies, I took quite a few courses in sport psychology, and I still use the theories I learned.
Sten is currently working as a sportspsychologist/basic psychologist.
Psychology is concerned with everything related to human
behaviour. For me, clinical psychology means counseling people who
need help. Helping people go from -1 to 0, so to speak. That is
very important work, but I found myself much more interested in
guiding people who are already doing well. Helping them to go from
0 to 1, to really achieve great things.
At the moment, I work both as a personal trainer and I have my own business where I work as an independent sports psychologist. As the latter, I coach athletes, especially in the context of performance: how do you perform under pressure, how do you keep your concentration, and how do you deal with the thrill of competition?
As a personal trainer, I train people in a sports studio. That is very physical – I make sure they do all the exercises right – but at the same time, my education as a psychologist proves very useful. People get stressed, they want a lot. With my background, I can guide them well.
During my studies, I took quite a few courses in sport psychology, and I still use the theories I learned. The courses on performance and coaching, for example, where you are taught to talk about improving and changing behaviour in a one-on-one setting, have proven to be very useful. My work is all about turning theory into practice.
In future, I would like to do a lot more in the field of achievement. I want to apply psychological insights to take sports in the Netherlands to a higher level. That is possible, if coaching and talent development are employed in the best possible way. I would love to make a contribution to that, and to develop myself further as a psychologist.
My advice for (future) students? Your university years can come with a lot of insecurity, especially towards the end. All of a sudden you are a graduate, and then what? If we all had our way, we would complete a study, get a job right after, and have everything go in a nice, straight line from there. But it never does, and that is all right. It is part of life, and it can teach you valuable lessons.
Above all, I would tell students to really treasure their time at university. It is a wonderful phase of your life, one in which you have a lot of freedom and the opportunity to figure out what really matters.
The best course unit that I took was the one on coaching.
I'm the first student to have completed this Master's programme. That's because it's new: officially the programme only started this academic year. But I was allowed follow some of the course units last year, which explains why I have already completed the programme. In Talent Development and Creativity you learn how to bring out the best in others. You help them to discover and develop their talents.
This topic has always interested me, which is why I chose the programme. I’m particularly interested in sport, but I didn’t want to limit myself to sport psychology. In this programme, you learn about the development of various sorts of talent: in sport, in music, at school, at work… you name it.
The best course unit that I took was the one on coaching. First you learn all the theories and models of coaching, and then you apply them in the practicals, by using role play. And then, and this was the part I liked best, you actually coach someone, a student assistant or PhD student. This meant we could immediately apply what we had learnt, and in fact that was the case with all the course units. I think that is a major strength of this Master’s programme.
Although you can do a placement as part of the programme, I chose not to. I wrote an extensive thesis, which involved conducting research into affordances, the possibilities that people see to take action, and psychological momentum in a sporting event. The expectation was that a person who is in positive momentum – who has a lead over the opponent for instance – will see more affordances than a person who is in negative momentum. And that proved to be true.
I’m now working on a PhD proposal that follows on from my thesis. Research didn’t appeal to me very much before, but this topic is so interesting and I am so into it now that I really like the idea of finding out more.
I work as a HR analytics advisor at the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports.
I am interested in how companies and organizations can use talent in the best way possible. That is very important for an organization, but at the same time very complicated. How do you define talent; how do you make sure people use the talent that they have ? How can you develop talent and how do you let talented people work together in the best way possible. During the Master 'Talent Development and Creativity' you learn to look at talent from this complex and dynamic perspective.
At the moment, I work as a HR analytics advisor at the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports. I analyze data from different staff systems to get new insights for HR managers, policy makers and advisors. I have meetings with them to find out which data they find most interesting. I also talk with the people who provide all the information to discuss which data I can request for my analysis. Finally, I make analyses in Excel with graphics in PowerPoint to share my new insights.
During the master’s programme, I learned how psychological processes work in organizations and how you can examine them. Because of this study programme, I can look with a different, more creative perspective at approaches to examine processes. My study is still very useful for my current job.
I look back at my student time in a very positive way. I really enjoyed the atmosphere in Groningen. You will know what I mean by this when you have studied there.
What is so great about this programme is the way theory and practice are integrated.
I came to Groningen because I had the opportunity to study Psychology here. I was fascinated by human thought and behaviour and I wanted to learn more about it. Furthermore, Groningen is a picturesque city full of canals with sailboats and bicycle paths that get you across town. Throughout my bachelor I discovered the cultural opportunities and liveliness that only a city with 25% student population can offer.
After my bachelor's programme I worked in Television Production in Germany for two years, before deciding to come back to Groningen for my master's degree. Currently, I am following the ' Talent Development and Creativity' master's programme. We study the nature of talent, where talent originates, and how it can be developed.
It is a unique study, with an approach to psychology that I
think is revolutionary. Whereas most Psychology programmes only
examine the development of large groups of people over time, the
programme in Groningen also focuses on processes on the individual
level. Iam very interested in that research angle - carefully
studying someone's development and interactions and describing it
in an almost mathematical way.
Another great aspect of the 'Talent Development and Creativity' programme is the way theory and practice are integrated. One course on talent development consisted almost entirely of lectures by practitioners: from the Conservatory, for instance, or from FC Groningen. These experts presented how they select and develop talent in their institution. Then they discussed their ideas with us and were actually interested in our input.
Most courses I have in the 'Talent Development and Creativity' trajectory are structured into two components: initially building up knowledge and then applying it to a 'real world' case. This is challenging as you might have a great theoretical Idea which turns out to be impractical when transferred to a real case. But it is also very gratifying: instead of cramming for an exam and forgetting everything the moment you exit the exam hall, you really get to put your knowledge to use.
After my study, I think I would like to work at a talent development department at an international company, conceptualizing Talent Development programmes that help employees to get the most out of themselves and to perform optimally. Given my work experience in Television, I am searching for a Media Company, because I loved the creative environment it offered.
We learn a lot about how to recognize talent and creativity.
After I finished my bachelor's degree in psychology at Leiden University, I wasn't sure which master's degree I wanted to do and I decided to first travel for a year.
During my trip I found out that I really wanted to learn more about creativity, but when I started looking for master's degree programmes on that topic I only found programmes in the US and Scotland. Then I stumbled upon the master's programme in Talent Development and Creativity in Groningen. It seemed very interesting and it is the only master's programme in the Netherlands that really focuses on creativity. I finally submitted my application during my yoga teacher training in Nepal.
We learn a lot about how to recognize talent and creativity and how to encourage people. I'm very interested in coaching. We have a course unit in which we learn coaching techniques by practicing on each other and then actually applying them in practice.
I still live in Leiden. After being away for a year, I wanted to be near my family and friends. I travel back and forth – fortunately, there is a direct train – and sometimes I stay overnight with my uncle.
What surprised me the most is the relationship between the students and lecturers.
My name is Marta Sveb, I am 23 years old and I come from Zagreb, Croatia. I am currently following the master's programme in Talent Development and Creativity. In addition, I am following the Master's Honours programme in Leadership
I chose the University of Groningen because it offered the exact programme that I was interested in. In addition, not only is the programme offered by a top-notch university, but it is also located in a beautiful city with a diverse student population and loads of bitterballen !
What was your motivation behind studying Talent
Development and Creativity?
I have always been interested in football, although I barely ever played. Before moving to Groningen, I was part of the most prestigious Croatian football club, GNK Dinamo Zagreb Youth Academy, as a psychology assistant. For almost two years, we carried out various projects including situational observations of players, creative workshops, team-building activities and team management at tournaments in which we often ended up at the top! That experience made me realize that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life, so finding the Talent Development and Creativity programme, which also focuses on developing sports talents, was the jackpot!
What skills have you gained over your time at
the University of Groningen?
During my time at Groningen, I have gained many skills. One of those skills is riding a bike on frozen streets! When it comes to academic skills, however, I am happy to see how my coaching skills have developed over the course of my studies. Before, I used to avoid coaching situations, but now I fully embrace them. Being able to gain coaching knowledge through theoretical lectures and then applying that knowledge to real clients (student assistants) is the best experience that I have had at the University.
What surprised you the most about the
University of Groningen?
What surprised me the most is the relationship between the students and lecturers. Namely, in lectures, students are encouraged to be critical and ask questions, which is not something that happens in Croatia. This shows that students are able to filter incoming information and actively use their minds in order to think critically about what is covered in class. Of course, it also makes lectures more interesting and interactive.
What are your plans after
As football is my biggest passion, I would like to pursue a career within this field upon graduating. At the beginning of the programme, I decided to enrol in the Honours College in order to learn more about leadership, as it combines well with my master’s programme, which focuses on developing human potential. Hopefully, upon graduating I will be able to find a job that combines leading people and developing their potential.
Would you recommend the University of Groningen
to prospective students?
Yes, I would definitely recommend the University of Groningen to prospective students. In my programme, the course units are very specific but also manage to go quite in depth, the lecturers are always kind and willing to help and fellow students are not just people who you see in lectures, but rather your Friday night friends as well. The energy of the university is very positive, which makes studying much more enjoyable. Additionally, the city is picturesque and there is always something happening – from quiet picnics in the beautiful parks to a number of extraordinary and unusual festivals.