Our research is inspired by the many pedagogical and educational challenges that large urban areas such as the city of Rotterdam are faced with. More specifically, our projects focus on children and youth in general and those at risk and at situations that endanger development in particular.

Although the majority of Rotterdam children and youth (approximately 160.000) grow up without any major problems or concerns, there are also many who are confronted with barriers to healthy functioning or  factors that may negatively affect future development in various ways.  These children may be at risk of e.g. developing behavioural problems, developing substance abuse, underachieving at or dropping out of school. These barriers, which are considered typical for large urban areas anywhere in the world, may be the result of child factors, but, more often, they are the result of the continuous interplay of child factors with parental, family, school, educators and/or extended contextual or environmental, and cultural factors.  In addition, the context in which these interactions and transactions take place is very much fuelled by governmental policies and initiatives regarding societal integration and educational inclusion issues, new methods for screening and monitoring early infant development and child well-being, and implementation of prevention and intervention programmes. 

In large urban areas such as Rotterdam, the number of children and youngsters considered at risk is above national average.

Our research programme comprises several interrelated domains that represent staff expertise regarding Orthopedagogical science, Family science, and Educational science. Intensive collaboration exist between our department and other universities (both national and international),  as well as with local professional services and organisations. As a result, many projects are of an inter- and multidisciplinary nature that aim to contribute to (a)  youth issues that are considered typical for large urban contexts that are characterised by diversity and (b) scientific knowledge regarding aetiology, prevalence, predictors, mediating and moderating factors regarding child developmental outcomes. Both aims will feed the design of appropriate intervention and prevention programmes with regard to their, often diverse, target populations to encourage evidence-based practice.

The main aim of our research programme is to contribute to knowledge about upbringing, education and instruction to help youth to fully develop their potential in various domains of development and functioning within the context of a large urban area. This is accomplished by setting up projects in collaboration with local services and organisations on the one hand, and on the other hand by preparing current students for their future activities as pedagogical and educational professionals.