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Learning, cognition and the brain


NB Language spoken in course is Dutch unless English-speaking students participate

Admission requirements



Comprehension and learning are essential to educational success. Understanding how they occur – and how they may fail – not only gives a unique insight into the workings of the human mind but also may lead to improved instructional design and diagnosis/ intervention of learning problems. Students will read theoretical and empirical studies on general and task-specific cognitive processes in learning and comprehension as well as on the potential neurological underpinnings of these processes. Discussions will focus on what these papers reveal about the cognitive and neurological processes, on the implications for educational practice, as well as on strengths and limitations of the various methodologies.

Course objectives

The aim of this course is to help students gain a thorough understanding of the cognitive processes that take place during learning and comprehension, and explore possible neurological bases of these processes.

At completion of the course, students will be able to (1) demonstrate in-depth understanding of cognitive-neurological aspects of learning and comprehension, (2) do so with respect to general learning situations as well as specific areas (e.g., reading, mathematics), (3) demonstrate a sound understanding of methodological consideration in the investigation of these processes, and (4) to discuss and evaluate the implications of knowledge of these processes for educators, teachers, trainers, and policy makers.
The achievement levels of the Master’s programme Education and Child Studies are all applicable to this course.



Mode of instruction

To ensure that students will attain a thorough knowledge of this emerging field, instruction will take a variety of form, including lectures, group discussion and written critiques of reading assignments, as well as applied, cooperative learning activities. Students will write a final paper that either provides a conceptual review or proposes a particular research study.

Assessment method

The final grade will be based on the quality of the final paper (40%), reaction papers (40%), and class participation (20%).


Articles will be available on and student papers will be exchanged via Blackboard

Reading list

Study material will consist of recent book chapters as well as primary research articles from leading journals in education, psychology, and cognitive science. In addition, students will identify additional articles on selected topics.

All articles will be digitally available on Blackboard a few weeks before the beginning of the course.


Please note that separate uSis registration is mandatory for lectures, seminars, exam and re-exam.

  • Registration for the lectures of the course is possible as of two months through one week before the first lecture at the latest;

  • Registration for the seminars of the course is possible as of two months through one week before the first lecture at the latest;

  • Registration for the exam is possible as of two months through one week before the exam at the latest;

  • Registration for the re-exam is possible as of two months through one week before the re-exam at the latest.
    Students who don’t register cannot attend classes or take the (re)exam.

Contact information

During this course professor van den Broek holds offices one hour after class.