University of Applied Sciences

Identity Development

The Department of Identity Development is dedicated to researching the development of ideological and philosophical values in education. What sort of identity should your educational institution pursue? How do students training to be primary school teachers develop their identity and how do they reconcile their philosophical and ideological ideas with their vocation and future profession as a teacher?

All schools and teachers have their own identities, whether these are informed by religious values and/or other philosophical, spiritual or ideological values. After all, your main responsibility as an educator is shaping the minds of your pupils, and imparting values is certainly an important part of any type of education.

The Department focuses on the following four research areas:

Identity development of Stenden University of Applied Sciences

Stenden’s motto is ‘Serving to make it a better world’ and our mission is ‘Unleashing potential in our students, staff and surrounding communities’ – but what do we mean by this, exactly? How do we define ‘a better world’ and does ‘unleashing potential’ contribute to this, or do we need to develop different qualities if we are to make the world a better place?

Identity development of the various primary teacher training programmes

Stenden’s primary teacher training programmes have developed their own views and ideas on education and the educational and social mission of schools in general. How do their various ideological, philosophical and educational ideas relate to each other, and what are some of the differences and similarities?

Identity development of trainee primary school teachers at the personal and professional level

What are your personal religious beliefs or personal philosophy or ideology, and how does this relate to the moral aspects of being a teacher? The Department supports the various programmes in developing an educational plan which addresses the relationship between the two in order to provide students with some food for thought. Rather than being part of a subject or separate module within the programme, this educational plan serves as a form of development, one which ensures a recurring focus on personal and professional identity development.

Primary schools and identity development

The Department is involved in the continued training of the staff of the primary schools with which the Stenden primary education programmes have partnered, particularly those employed in senior administrative roles and management.

Relationship with education

The Department of Identity Development is affiliated with Stenden’s School of Education, and lecturers in the various teacher training programmes use the findings of our research in their classes. If you are currently training to be a teacher, at some point you will study the issue of identity development. You will also have the opportunity to participate in research projects, as we regularly ask students to assist us with this work.

The Department of Identity Development also participates in the educational programme of the Master’s degree course in Learning & Innovation. We support students in carrying out research with a practical focus, particularly research on the difference between educational reforms and innovation, and attempts to clearly communicate the school’s ideas about learning and development.


In conducting our research, we have access to an extensive network of experts in identity development and education. For one, the Department is a member of a national committee of departments dedicated to Identity, and the Professor of Applied Sciences liaises closely with the Department of Religious Studies at Tilburg University and with the PO-raad (association for professionals in primary education), the VO-raad (association for professionals in secondary education) and with administrators of various education sectors at the national and regional levels.

Research Group

Our Research Group is headed by the Professor of Applied Sciences, Dr Cil Wigmans, while the other members of the Group are lecturers in Stenden’s primary teacher training programmes. The Group also receives input from the following other professionals in the field:

  • Aafke Reinders: principal of the Christian primary school It Twaspan in Terkaple
  • Annemarie Rodenburg: owner at Siel, a consulting agency specialising in ‘awareness and inspiration’
  • Arda de Boer: identity coach/consultant at the Centrum voor Levensbeschouwing (Centre for Ideology)
  • Bea de Vries: principal of De Kimkiel, a school for special education in Groningen
  • Marleen Lammers: policy officer and educational consultant at VOS/abb (Association for Public and General Education)
  • Jolanda Post: Branch director, Assen branch


If you have any questions about the Research Group or would like to receive more information, please contact our Administrative Assistant, Dirkje Elgersma. She can be contacted by telephone at +31 (0)58 244 14 26 or by e-mail at


The Research Group of the Department of Identity Development comprises the following members:


School of Education
Postbus 1298

Rengerslaan 8
NL-8900 CG Leeuwarden, the Netherlands 

Administrative Assistant in the Department of Identity Development: Ms Dirkje Elgersma
T: +31 (0)58 244 14 26

Office Manager ESR/Academisation Office: Ms Sonja Schuil
T: +31 (0)6 19 28 13 29