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Elske de Waal MA

PhD candidate


Area(s) of interest: Dutch History, Educational Studies & Public History, History & Philosophy of Science and Technology, History of Knowledge

Cohort/Start PhD: 2020-2021

A history of the Freudenthal Institute in its (inter)disciplinary context
UU/Freudenthal Instituut
Supervisor(s): dr. A. (Arthur) Bakker, prof. L.T.G. (Bert) Theunissen, Dr. M.C.P.J. (Marie-Christine) Knippels

The project aims to reconstruct the development of science and mathematics education as distinct scientific discipline(s) through the lens of the history of the Freudenthal Institute (FI) since its establishment in 1971 (then called IOWO). Freudenthal et al. developed both a theoretical framework and a research method, which have both been, to different degrees, influential in (Dutch) educational research and practice. Researching the history of a new discipline and scientific institute raises questions such as ‘whether and why there was a need for such a discipline’, and ‘how did researchers in this new discipline define their field?’

Several different ‘roots’ have been brought together in the FI in its current form. Before the turn of the century, science education and mathematics education were represented in separate institutions. The differences and similarities between the development of these two areas of study will on the one hand provide insight into the developing ideas about what was specific about teaching science or mathematics. On the other, it will probably also illustrate how specific political and social influences, within and without the university, played a role in the shaping of the academic fields.

SME research usually involves many stakeholders, from academics to teachers and from curriculum designers to students. Therefore, many different forms and uses of knowledge play a role within this research. Within this project I will therefore also focus on the epistemological framework of SME research. The intersection of scientific or academic knowledge with the experiential knowledge of educators and students provides an interesting case to study the role of non-academic knowledge within science.