The Research group Vocational Education studies learning processes for and in vocational practice and the affordances and interactions that enhance this learning the processes of learning, training and professionalisation for the purpose of acquiring what is needed to practice a particular profession. The scope of our research includes all arrangements of vocational education both prior to and during one's professional career.

Lines of research within the research group

The central research question of the research group is: How does vocational education help professionals to deal with the complexity and dynamics of practice and to give direction to their actions and their development?

This research question is examined through three lines of research.

This line of research focuses on individual and collective learning processes. Learning is about developing thinking and doing, as two sides of the same coin. Individuals develop their personal (vocational) identity within the framework of the collective (vocational practice).

The second line of research focuses on which interactions can enhance learning. By interactions we mean interactions of learners with all significant others, such as teachers, practical trainers, fellow students, professionals from the field, clients, consumers, etc.


The third line of research focuses on affordances, which represent all aspects of learning environments (material and immaterial) that can provoke and enhance learning. This includes roles, (external) assignments, assessment methods, professional tools, manners, digital environments, buildings and workplaces of (regional) partners.


Research workplaces

The Research group Vocational Education started in 2016 with three research workplaces. These workplaces combine the resources of professional practice with senior secondary vocational education (MBO), higher professional education (HBO) and research.

The research workplace for ‘Uitvoeren van beroepsonderwijs’ (‘Performing Vocational Education') focuses on practical issues related to supervising and teaching students in adaptive vocational education.

Adaptive vocational education meets the learning needs of students, while also responding flexibly to developments in professional practice and the labour market. The research workplace is concerned with supervision strategies that lecturers can deploy. How are these strategies best used in concrete terms and are there any good examples of this?

In the research workplace, vocational lecturers and researchers nourish each other with their knowledge. Lecturers conduct (small-scale) practice-based research projects that are embedded in their own educational practice, while the researchers are primarily concerned with their own doctoral research and practice-based research projects.

Our research is about:

  • The professionalisation of workplace trainers regarding the supervision of students in the workplace
  • Supervision strategies for working with integrated professional tasks
  • Shaping and supervising education in terms of critical thinking
  • Organising peer support and channelling the benefit thereof for students, lecturers and the degree programme
  • Using scaffolding as a supervision strategy in the development of problem-solving abilities for work-related issues
  • Learning and supervising during work-related interactions

The ‘Beoordelen in beroepsonderwijs’ ('Assessment in vocational education') research workplace focuses on practical issues related to assessment.

These issues relate, for example, to testing programmes in higher professional education, tracking student development through formative testing, and collaborating with the workplace in testing. Two HU lecturers are conducting their doctoral research within the parameters of the research workplace.

In practice, the problems we are concerned with are:

  • The predictive value of testing during the foundation year
  • Involving students in formative testing and developing learning objectives and success criteria
  • Using assessment as a form of testing and the student’s experience with this
  • Making more use of formative assessment in education (during the lessons)
  • Student experiences with programmatic testing
  • The development and trial of KIT2.0

This research workplace is coordinated by Liesbeth Baartman. If you are you interested in participating, please contact Liesbeth.

The goal of the research workplace ‘Ontwerpruimte Beroepsonderwijs’ (‘Design Space for Vocational Education’) is to optimise existing practices in vocational education. More specifically, its focus is on the boundary between education and professional practice.

Our work is based on the theoretical framework of boundary crossing. The learning mechanism of 'transformation' is hereby further shaped by the concept of the 'hybrid learning environment'.

In the ‘Design Space for Vocational Education’ research workplace, teachers from senior secondary vocational education (MBO), higher professional education (HBO) and researchers participate in a 'knowledge community'. All participants conduct practice-based research from a design perspective. For MBO and HBO lecturers, this involves short-term research - in 'guerrilla style’ - which is embedded in their own design practice. When it comes to the researchers, it involves, for example, doctoral research and practice-based research projects.

The ‘Design Space for Vocational Education’ research workplace is coordinated from within the Research group Vocational Education by Ilya Zitter. If you are you interested in participating, please contact Ilya.



We actively develop and share knowledge with senior secondary vocational education (MBO) and higher professional education (HBO) institutions. Current practical issues and topics thus determine the research agenda of our research group and we seek the connection between education, professional practice and research. Together with Windesheim University of Applied Sciences, we provide the master’s programme in Professional Vocational Education.

Practical technology class Elly de Bruijn | Professor of Vocational Education

“The long trajectory from research to education and learning is important and necessary, not only with a view to knowledge development, but also because this trajectory harbours the value of vocational education.”

Elly de Bruijn Professor of Vocational Education


We work together with various partners, including lecturers, trainers, education managers, researchers, project leaders and policy makers from both MBO and HBO institutions and other knowledge partners. We also maintain an intensive collaboration with the Expertisecentrum docent HBO (Centre of Expertise for Teachers in Higher Professional Education).

De Leermeesters
ROC Midden Nederland

Our professors and researchers

Liesbeth Baartman

Liesbeth Baartman

Professor Vocational Education Show profile
Elly de Bruijn | Professor | Research group Vocational Education

Elly de Bruijn

Professor Vocational Education Show profile
Ilya Zitter

Ilya Zitter

Professor Vocational Education Show profile
Bas Agricola

Bas Agricola

Teacher-researcher Vocational Education Show profile

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