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Research Nieuwenhuis Institute for Educational Research Inclusive and Special Needs Education and Child and Family Welfare


There are four major research themes covered by our expertise group. They are mentioned below, including some examples of studies. This list just gives some examples, and therefore does not include all our studies. Besides this, many studies cover more than one theme.

  1. Knowledge on the development and support needs of individuals with severe challenging needs in the context on different domains

    - Differentiation inside out: a study on differentiation on different levels and domains. (2017 - 2022) In this study, we aim to find out to what extent teachers differentiate between students with different educational needs, and we want to know how students with different (special) educational needs experience the interactions with their teacher.

    Contact persons: dr. Elisa Kupers, Judith Loopers, Msc., dr. Anke de Boer, Prof. dr. Alexander Minnaert
    Funding body: NRO

    - Between two stools: The educational needs of twice-exceptional students (i.e. students with both a gift and an educational challenge).
    In this three-year grant from the Netherlands Initiative for Education Research, Evelyn Kroesbergen, Agnes Burger-Veltmeijer, Alexander Minnaert, and Lianne Hoogeveen aim to explore questions about twice exceptional students’ characteristics and developmental challenges, in order to glean insights about possible identification processes. We also seek to lay the groundwork for programs that more adequately accommodate the educational needs of 2e students, find factors to reduce frustration, increase talent development, and contribute to a successful school career for these students. Indeed, there is an increasing awareness of the need for specific support structures for twice exceptional students, who have high learning potential but struggle with academic tasks due to emotional, behavioral, and/or learning issues. However, there is a lack of consensus about how to define and identify these students. The reality is that 2e students are often overlooked when assessed for either giftedness or persistent developmental problems. This can lead to 2e students being denied access to appropriate educational and career opportunities.

    Contact person(s): Prof. dr. Alexander Minnaert

    Funding body: NRO

    - Research on What Works for Severe Parenting Problems/Multiproblem Families (W2-Severe Parenting Problems/Multiproblem Families). The department of Child and Family Welfare is one of the collaboration partners in this project.

    Contact persons: dr. Jana Knot-Dickscheit, prof. dr. Tom van Yperen

    Funding body: ZonMW

    More information can be found on:

    - Animal-assisted therapy: Animal-assisted therapy is gaining popularity, but there is no conclusive evidence for its effect. This study investigates the effect of dog-assisted therapy for children with Down Syndrome and Autism, and looks for a possible mechanism to explain this effect: Increased synchronization between the movements of child and therapy dog. More information (in Dutch):

    Contact person: dr. Steffie van der Steen
    Funding body: NWO Talent Programme (Veni)

  2. Assessment, intervention, and professional development to support children, youngsters, adults and their families in education and to support child and family welfare

    - Young refugee students in primary education: language acquisition and well-being (2019 - 2023). In this study we aim to unravel the bi-directional influences between language acquisition and well-being of young primary students with a refugee background. In order to support teachers working with these students, we develop and validate a screening tool for observing trauma-related behavior in students, and investigate the possible effects of a lesson package aimed at (second) language acquisition.

    Contact persons: dr. Elisa Kupers, Hanneke Leeuwestein, Msc., Prof. dr. Marijn van Dijk (Developmental Psychology), in collaboration with Molendrift
    Funding body: NRO

    - Brighter Future: Innovative tools for developing full potential after early adversity (children in foster care, residential care, adopted and refugees)
    Contact person: dr. Mónica López López
    Funding body: ERASMUS+ Key Action 2 Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices

    - KINGS: Effectiveness of an innovative treatment program for traumatized children and parents in multiple problem situations. In this study we examine the effectiveness of the new trauma-focused treatment KINGS for children with complex trauma, serious behaviour problems and their traumatized parents referred to child and adolescent mental health care. This study compares a treatment group receiving KINGS with a waiting list control group. In addition, we conduct single-case studies with ten families to assess KINGS’s individual-level effects, working mechanisms and effective components.

    Contact persons: Prof. dr. Annemiek Harder (EUR), Prof. dr. Tom van Yperen,  dr. Anne-Marie Huyghen, dr.  Jana Knot-Dickscheit
    Funding body: Stichting tot Steun VCVGZ

    - Supporting specialized psychiatric care in remote areas: A computer adaptive diagnostic interview for personality pathology.
    The goal of this project is to develop an adaptive instrument for assessing maladaptive personality functioning. The instruments that are currently available are relatively cumbersome, and may be a challenge to use; especially for clinicians who do not use them on a daily basis. We aim to develop an instrument that will be more intuitive to use than the current generation of semi-structured interviews. The new instrument that we are developing is based on principles of computerized adaptive testing. This means that the instrument is governed by an algorithm and adapted real-time, so that only the questions that are relevant and contribute important information needed to make the diagnosis are selected. Using the adaptive algorithm will allow for delivering a relatively short, yet precise, personalized test; while ensuring adequate content coverage.

    Contact person: dr. Muirne Paap
    Funding body: Research Council of Norway
  3. Inclusive solutions for individuals with challenging needs in families, education and society

    - Integrating special and regular education: a longitudinal study on the impact of integrating special and regular education on teachers, parents and students. This study consist of two parts: one evaluation of the current policy, and one study on the impact of the policy in the educational practice.
    Contact person: dr. Anke de Boer, in collaboration with CED-groep Rotterdam, Saxion Hogeschool and RENN4.

    Funding body: NRO and RENN4

    - Symbiosis trajectories for students with social- emotional and behavioral difficulties.
    In this study we explore 1) the cognitive and social outcomes of students following a so-called ‘symbiosis trajectory’ (partly being education in special and regular education), and 2) experiences of students and teachers with these trajectories.

    Contact person: dr. Anke de Boer, dr. Matthijs Warrens (Educational Sciences), in collaboration with RENN4.
    Funding body: NRO
  4. Policy, systems and decision-making for individuals with severe challenging needs

    Do ethnic and gender stereotypes lead to disparities in child protection decision-making? A study in the Netherlands and the USA
    Contact person: Floor Middel, MSc. and dr. Mónica López López
    Funding body: now

    - Tipping points in treatment trajectories. When and why do clients suddenly get better and are there optimal times when treatments are most effective? These are the questions that I will address in my VIDI by looking at case-by-case clinical trajectories. Ultimately my aim is to identify general markers that allow us to explain why and predict when clinical change will happen. Work package 1 will be aimed at 1) identifying and predicting tipping points in clinical change trajectories and 2) creating a better understanding of these tipping points by modelling their underlying mechanisms and patterns of dynamic change. Work package 2 will test whether clients are more sensitive to intervention efforts at these tipping points. Both studies will be conducted in residential youth care settings. Data are being collected to address the key objectives of the proposal but are simultaneously used for monitoring and feedback by clients and clinicians. Results from this project will inform practice on how to dynamically personalize interventions, specifying how to target, and timely adapt, intervention efforts to the particulars of individual clients according to the generalities of a formal theory. The proposed project focuses on youth, but the trans-theoretical and -diagnostic approach offers the unique opportunity to take personalized care beyond diagnostic categories, treatment models and settings, impacting on theory and clinical change more broadly.

    Contact person: Prof. dr. Anna Lichtwarck-Aschoff
    Funding body: NWO (Vidi)
Last modified:27 May 2022 4.22 p.m.