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Learning disabilities: a neuro-behavioural approach


LET OP: Dit vak wordt, behalve door studenten van de Masteropleiding Education and Child Studies, ook gevolgd door studenten van de Educatieve Master Primair Onderwijs (EMPO).

Studenten van de EMPO moeten een extra opdracht (1 ec) maken om het vak te kunnen behalen. De coördinator van het vak zal de EMPO-studenten alle informatie over deze extra opdracht geven.

Studenten van de Master Education and Child Studies maken de extra opdracht niet.

NB Language of instruction is English


This course provides an interdisciplinary view and a unique balance between theory, diagnosis and teaching strategies for cognitive learning disabilities.
Students study book chapters on etiology, diagnosis, and treatment and recent research published in peer reviewed journals (e.g., Journal of Educational Psychology, Reading Research Quarterly, Developmental Psychology, Journal of Learning Disabilities).

The selection of research papers and topics discussed during the meetings include traditional themes related to learning problems (dyslexia, dyscalculia) but adds coverage on protective and risk factors for developing learning disabilities, genetics, insights from neurocognitive research, motivational processes, attention deficit disorders, using computers to enhance learning, social interaction and learning, and other high-interest current topics in the field.

Students are expected to reflect critically on scientific literature and on their own scientific behavior, to determine one’s position based on transparent scientific reasoning.

**NB This course is also open for Research Master students as an elective. **

Course objectives

Students who attend this course will learn to:
1. Apply state of the art knowledge of cognitive learning disabilities related to reading, mathematics, DCD (developmental coordination disorder), ADHD, and ADD (achievement level 2.1).
2. Explain by formulating a consistent line of reasoning which scientific theories explain a disability well or less well (achievement level 2.3, 3.4).
3. Explain by formulating a consistent line of reasoning why a treatment is or is not expected to work for a specific group of children and why (achievement level 2.3, 3.4).
4. Explain which measurements are used for what and what the results do tell us (achievement level 2.3, 3.4).
5. Analyze and critically evaluate recent scientific studies to establish its practical or theoretical relevance (achievement level 2.3, 3.4).
6. Report orally and in writing on developmental learning disabilities in an academic context and in other professional contexts (i.e. the school, care-takers) (achievement level 4.1).
7. Evaluate the information that comes up during the discussion of the review papers to judge their own understanding of these papers and to detect and correct any misunderstandings (achievement level 5.2)


For the timetable of this course please refer to MyTimetable

Mode of instruction

Studying key research articles/chapters in preparation of meetings during which we interactively discuss the literature. Students give a presentation about the literature. Students translate scientific knowledge into practice by making a knowledge clip aimed at parents and professionals in the field of Education and Child Development.

Attendance is compulsory for the meetings of this course. Absence must be reported in advance by e-mail to the coordinator of the course. To compensate for the missed meeting, the student must hand in a substitute assignment. If more than one meeting is missed, the learning objectives of the course cannot be achieved. This means that the course cannot be successfully completed in the current academic year. The student must take the course again in the following academic year.

Assessment method

  • Written exam with open and MC-questions (80%)

  • Written reviews (should be satisfactory)

  • Presentations should be satisfactory

  • Knowledge clip (20%)

Note. Partial results are only valid in 2023-2024. Both the written exam and the knowledge clip need to be graded with at least a 5.5 to pass the course.

Research Master students write all exams and reviews in English.

Small changes are possible, see Brightspace!


  • Registration for this course via usis automatically leads to enrollment into the Brightspace environment of this course.

  • A detailed course description will be uploaded on Brightspace.

  • All course announcements will be placed on Brightspace.

  • Students hand in their reviews and a knowledge clip on Brightspace.

Reading list

  • Hulme, C. & Snowling, M. J. (2009). Developmental Disorders of Language Learning and Cognition. Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.

  • Scientific papers (to be announced, see course description on Brightspace).

Small changes are possible (also in the reading list), see Brightspace!


Students must register themselves for all course components (lectures, tutorials and practicals) they wish to follow. You can register via My Studymap 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.

NB If the exam concerns a paper or a practical assignment, you do not need to register in My Studymap.

Carefully read all information about the procedures and deadlines for registering for courses and exams.

Contact information

Co-ordinator of this course is Dr. E.K. Swart