Centre for Economic Transformation| CET

Experimental Learning Lab. ‘Professional development, Study success and Diversity.’



Experimental Learning Lab. ‘Professional development, Study success and Diversity.’ The way teacher teams act has a major influence on the quality of education and study success of students. However, there is relatively little attention for the question if and under which circumstances teams of teachers operate successfully. The Experimental Learning Lab focuses on the agency (ability to act) of teams of teachers and the impact of this agencyon quality of education and study success. In a longitudinal action-research we guide teams of teachers in creating high-quality education and, by doing so, strive to increase the agency of these teams. In this research, we focus on the characteristics of the team and the organizational structure.


The Experimental Learning Lab research is a follow-up on a large scale research project on study success and diversity by van Middelkoop and Meerman (2014). In this research, they found that teachers experience limited ‘professional space’, which is required to improve the study success of a diverse population of students. Teachers should be given more professional space, but teachers can also more take a more active role when it comes to views and dilemmas on study success and diversity.


We are interested in the way agency in teams is achieved. We use a qualitative action research method, in which we are able to profoundly research agency in practice. The teams research, improve and evaluate their own practice as ‘reflective practitioners’ (Schön 1983).

In this longitudinal action-research (18 months) we try to realize an improvement of the agency of the teams of teachers. We stimulate the teams of teachers to take responsibility for the study success of the students in a diverse student population. The teams try to increase the study success of the students trough self-designed interventions. By designing their own interventions, team agency improves.

The experimental learning labs consist of four phases:

  1. In the baseline measurement the starting situation of the team is mapped through individual interviews (45 minutes on average) and two focus group-interviews.
  2. Teams design a couple of interventions focused on (1) students and the improvement of their study success, (2) the professional development of the individual teachers and/or (3) the development of the team.
  3. The teams implement the interventions in their educational practice.
  4. The results of the interventions and the development of the agency of the teams of teachers are evaluated by individual interviews and focus group-interviews.

The first two experimental learning lab projects at the Hogeschool van Amsterdam were finished mid 2017. Both teams showed an increase of the agency and a self-improved educational program. In 2017 the first results of these projects will be published.

At this moment, there are experimental learning lab projects running at the Universities of Applied Sciences of Amsterdam (1) and Rotterdam (2). We are also running a lab at the Friesland College (1) in Leeuwarden. We aim to start experimental learning labs in an international context in the coming years.

If you are interested in participating in the research or if you want more information, please contact Daniël van Middelkoop

Project Info

Start date 01 Sep 2015
End date 16 Dec 2018