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Current Research Practices in Cognitive Development


Entry requirements

Open to MSc Psychology (research) students


This course provides state-of-the-art knowledge in the field of behavior and cognition. The course focuses on factors related to group differences in school performance, with a focus on sex differences. It is known that girls outperform boys in terms of overall school performance. A better understanding of the nature of group differences, is important to be able to provide equal opportunities within society, for example for boys and girls.

A relatively recent development in the scientific field is to match goals of researchers with expectations and needs of societal partners (such as schools) and youth. Using co-creation of scientific questions and methods, it is possible to provide a richer and ecologically valid approach to understanding the nature of group differences in the classroom.

In this course, students have to gather information on and critically discuss different kinds of theories on sex differences in behavior and cognition (e.g. evolutionary theories, cognitive social learning theory, sociocultural theory, and expectancy-value theory), and the predictive validity of test procedures.

Additionally, information has to be collected and critically discussed about co-creation with societal partners, pre-registration and making data and results accessible to others (open science). Students both have to study and collect several new sources of information in this field.

In the first part of the course students discuss methodological and theoretical aspects of sex differences in behavior and cognition. They both study and evaluate the various theoretical points of view in relation to their value in practice, together with societal partners. In weekly sessions, open science methods and materials will be evaluated.

In the second part of the course, students develop a new study and write a preregistration report on their expected findings, which they will need to elaborate on further in an oral explanation. In doing so, students have to demonstrate they can integrate these findings with results from the course literature.

In the third part, a data management plan will be setup by the students that conforms to Open Science practices.

Course objectives

After completing this course, students:
1. Can design an original research question on developmental gender differences based on a) literature search and b) insights through co-creation sessions with societal partners.
2. Can write a pre-registration including their hypotheses, methods, analyses and a data management plan.
3. Are able to present their research plans in a scientifically valid and socially accessible way.


For the timetable of this course please refer to MyTimetable



Students must register themselves for all course components (lectures, tutorials and practicals) they wish to follow. You can register up to 5 days prior to the start of the course.


It is mandatory for all students to register for each exam and to confirm registration for each exam in My Studymap. This is possible up to and including 10 calendar days prior to the examination. You cannot take an exam without a valid pre-registration and confirmation in My Studymap. Carefully read all information about the procedures and deadlines for registering for courses and exams.

Exchange students and external guest students will be informed by the education administration about the current registration procedure.

Mode of instruction

The course consists of:

7 2-hour interactive lectures

Students have to read and discuss actively the literature for each lecture, give presentations, demonstrate materials through co-creation, and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of such testing methods. They have to find new literature on research data and have to be able to discuss their findings and integrate them with the core literature.

The interactive lectures will be taught in English.

Assessment method

Assignment 1 (60% of final grade): Write a preregistration based on a research question that is developed in a process of co-creation with societal partners (school and youth). The preregistration includes a data management plan.

Assignment 2 (40% of final grade): Oral report on pre-registration

Participation in the form of weekly assignments. Weekly assignments will prepare for final Assignment 1 and 2. Overall feedback without a grade will be provided.

Course objective 1 will be assessed in Assignment 1 and 2
Course objective 2 will be assessed in Assignment 1 and 2
Course objective 3 will be assessed in Assignment 1

The Institute of Psychology follows the policy of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences to systematically check student papers for plagiarism with the help of software. Disciplinary measures will be taken when fraud is detected. Students are expected to be familiar with and understand the implications of this fraud policy.

Reading list

  • Hyde, J. S. (2014). Gender similarities and differences. Annual Review of Psychology, 65, 373–398.

  • Nosek, B.A., Beck, E.D., Campbell, L., Flake, J.K., Hardwicke, T.E., Mellor, D.T., van ‘t Veer, A.E., Vazire, S. (2019). Preregistration is hard, and worthwhile. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 23(10), 815-818.

  • Free choice of 8-10 articles

Contact information

Dr. Annelinde Vandenbroucke