Centre for Applied Research in Education

Social Studies Education

The Social Studies Education research group aims to boost knowledge of teaching methodology in the school subjects of geography, economics, history and civics. In addition, it conducts applied research to expand this knowledge. It does so for the benefit of education in the aforementioned subjects and for the training of those teaching these subjects. The professorship is part of a cooperation between four universities of applied sciences (4FF), namely the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS, which houses the professorship), HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht, University of Applied Sciences Windesheim and Inholland University of Applied Sciences.


The justification for teaching methodology expertise is the notion that individual subjects comprise such a variety of knowledge structures, thought processes and modes of argumentation that they require tailor-made didactics. This professorship concerns knowledge structures, thought processes and modes of argumentation from the social sciences, particularly economics, geography and history. In view of this background, the research focuses on the following themes:


Due to the lack of structured content in social science subjects, it is difficult to define competence levels. As a result, it is equally hard to monitor and guide the 'progress' of pupils in that respect. This means that the subjects score poorly on 'learnability'. The aim of research in the present theme is to increase this learnability.


Schools have had the legal obligation to address citizenship for a number of years now, although the laws and regulations specify neither the objectives nor the form and context of citizenship education. This situation has led to a proliferation of citizenship education in all shapes and sizes. Broadly speaking, two directions can be distinguished: education aimed at knowledge and insight linked to skills, versus education aimed at personal development and attitudes linked to skills. This distinction runs along the same lines as the one between 'responsible national citizens as individuals' and 'civilised and self-reliant fellow citizens as part of a community'. The focus of research in the present theme is on the role to be played by social science subjects in this context.


In certain forms of education, especially in the lower years of preparatory secondary vocational education, the social science subjects are subsumed under the integrated domain of 'People and society'. This integration is based on a range of considerations, from the practical (available teachers, scheduling issues) to the idealistic (it is claimed that this teaching method aligns better with the pupils' living environment). To d, not even a rudimentary insight is available into the benefits from this form of education relative to education organised in individual subjects. Also lacking is a fully developed 'didactics of the domain', even though teachers are voicing a strong desire for this. In conclusion, two types of research are possible in this theme: research into the effectiveness of education (integrated or otherwise) and research into the didactics of the domain.


Social science subjects may include learning materials connected to the development of identity among pupils. For example, it is often assumed that history belongs to individual groups (women's history as history for women, Dutch history as history for the Dutch and so on). This assumption is fuelled by notions of 'us and them'. Geography and civics also deal with learning materials in which perspectivity is a recurring issue. The learning materials in question are often laden with values as well. Research in this theme may focus on identification within the social science subjects, didactics of value-laden subjects, and perspectivity and multiperspectivity.

Published by  Centre for Applied Research in Education 20 October 2021