Democratisation of Critical Thinking

Duration: 2018 - 2020 (with a possible extension of 2 years)
Supervising Lecturer: Prof. Cok Bakker
Researchers: Anouk Zuurmond
Training Centre: Institute Archimedes
Project Website: 

Brief Summary of the Research Project

Democracy involves shouldering a shared responsibility for living together, for ourselves, and for each other. Co-responsibility cannot be realised without critical thinking. If critical thinking is a core competence of democratic citizenship, then the democratisation of critical thinking is a core task of vocational education. Citizenship education, learning to think critically and Bildung are often seen as interrelated, but a clear, scientifically sound and useful vision of how they overlap is still lacking. The Working Group ‘Citizenship’ will focus on the development and implementation of an approach to citizenship education in which critical thinking and Bildung are linked with vocational preparation.

Scientific Relevance

More specifically, the research of the Working Group focuses on two aspects: first, a system to help other secondary vocational education (MBO) programmes to develop their vision and, second, a method to incorporate critical thinking into educational objectives and annual plans.

Practical Relevance

There is a great deal of scientific knowledge (since the beginning of the 20th century) about critical thinking, also in connection to citizenship education and vocational training, but this hardly reaches the secondary vocational education (MBO) practice. Due to this status quo, the Working Group shares existing knowledge, develops new knowledge, and translates insights into practical applications.

Consortium/Project Partners

  • ROC van Twente
  • ROC Midden Nederland
  • University of Groningen
  • University of Twente


NRO Working Group Educational Research secondary vocational education (MBO)


The goals of the Working Group are:

  1. Developing a well-substantiated and practical vision of the integration of critical thinking, citizenship and Bildung; 
  2. Developing itself into a permanent professional learning community that consolidates and disseminates the expertise and practices that are developed; 
  3. Knowledge development to integrate critical thinking into practice (including professionalization activities);  
  4. Further developing the existing knowledge on effective learning strategies and measurement tools for secondary vocational education teachers (MBO-teachers), and making it publicly available.


The Working Group establishes a long-term ‘professional learning community’ in which different types of expertise fertilise each other, namely the expertise of secondary vocational education teachers (MBO-teachers) (teaching Dutch, citizenship classes, and other specific subjects) and the expertise of researchers from the expertise platform MBO, the ECKD (Centre for Expertise on Critical Thinking), the research group ‘Normative Professionalisation’, and two universities. Students and external partners will also contribute practical expertise. In co-creation, the various partners will develop the vision and the translation into educational activities, learning trajectories and assessment tools. During this process, secondary vocational education teachers will be consulted to determine what type of professionalization they need in order to implement critical thinking.

Normative Professionalization

Moral Dimension Of Teachers’ Professional Development

About the Research Group