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ResearchNieuwenhuis Institute for Educational ResearchFields of ExpertiseSpecial Needs Education, Youth Care and Youth Studies

Special Needs Education, Youth Care and Youth Studies

Our research programme covers four areas, of which three originating from the previous program Developmental and Behavioral Disorders in Education and Care and one constituting the newly founded Youth Studies group (originating from the split of the program Education in Culture):

  1. Learning and educational (school setting) problems
  2. Disabilities
  3. Emotional and behavioural problems
  4. Youth Studies.

In the first three areas, there is a focus on individuals, families or groups manifesting severe problems. Indices of severity are the intensity, complexity, pervasiveness, chronicity or irreversibility of problems and disorders. Examples are children with profound intellectual and multiple disabilities, deafblind people, multi-problem families, or looked after children (e.g., children in foster care).

In this part of the programme we aim to:

  1. study risk factors and mechanisms explaining problems in children and families related to learning, development and parenting, and protective factors reducing these problems;
  2. develop and evaluate instruments/procedures to assess these problems, risk or protective factors; and
  3. develop and evaluate interventions in the three areas.

The study of these issues implies a contextual approach, which is inspired by ecological and transactional models of human development and well-being. The aforementioned areas are also studied by other disciplines (e.g., psychology, medicine, law, social welfare). Our programme is focusing on the relational contexts (education, care) of vulnerable children, (young) people and families and the role these contexts play in the development of problems, their assessment and the search for effective interventions.

In the fourth area, which constitutes the research line Youth Studies young people's development and adjustment in different social contexts is studied, in particular in the family, the school and the peer groups. From a youth sociological perspective, the structure and culture of the youth world is studied in three generations within families. Peer relationships, peer-led educational settings, sexual development and orientation, young people's adjustment problems including internalizing and externalizing problems as well as suicidal ideation and behaviour are key themes. To understand how these are impacted by and impact on youth within their social environments, a large array of empirical methods is being used including qualitative interviews as well as large, longitudinal cohort studies to tackle research themes from intergenerational, biosocial, and minority stress perspectives.


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Last modified:26 November 2018 2.02 p.m.