Research theme

Focused and substantiated attention to reading and writing skills is a requirement for pupils’ school success and hence for their participation in society.

Proper training of language and reading skills

Language and reading skills training takes a prominent place in the curriculum of primary, secondary and special education as well as in senior secondary vocational (mbo) and higher professional (hbo) education. Pupils’ test results are considered highly important in this process. Nevertheless, there is cause for concern. International comparative studies (PIRLS) indicate that the Netherlands does not live up to expectations in all respects. Training of language and reading skills is dominated by methods promoted by educational publishers, but little information is available about the actual learning effect of these methods. Are we doing the right things when it comes to training language and reading skills? In fact, what exactly is proper training of language and reading skills?


In their article ‘Goed taalonderwijs biedt kansen aan alle leerlingen’ Anneke Smits and Erna van Koeven discuss how present-day language teaching preserves inequality and what it takes to change this: Tijdschrift Taal, 7(11), 34-39.


In this research theme and the related research circle of Literacy and School Success our researchers conduct research on language and reading in all school types and at all educational levels. The research group collaborates on this with the Professorships of Educational Innovation and ICT, and Pedagogical Quality in Education of Windesheim, and Literacy of Utrecht University of Applied Sciences. Our researchers are also closely involved in Windesheim’s programme of Education in Primary Schools (age 4 – 12), Teacher Education programmes and Master’s programme Educational Needs. Topics they are working on include reading skills, vocabulary acquisition, reading comprehension, writing and spelling.

From science to practice

In the interest of the Dutch education sector our researchers also focus on the connection between research and educational practice. This is reflected in the blog Literacy and School Success, by Anneke Smits and Erna van Koeven, which clearly addresses a need. In this blog practical as well as scientific dilemmas are discussed, aiming to generate a knowledge base and initiate discussion and changes in the training of language and reading. At the same time, our researchers try to accomplish this by taking an active part in educational practice, for instance by supervising and coaching of teams.