Vision and Experience


I love to coach students in working together as members of the scientific community, and at the same time help students to build on -and trust- their own unique strengths and qualities.

I quite frequently apply the Socratic approach, and encourage students to ask themselves all the questions they can think of, and to keep on having an open mind, i.e., always actively searching for alternative possibilities and explanations of the phenomena we observe. Underlying is my view that if students steer their own learning process through questions that they are curious about, this will provide them with the skills for having a lifetime of pleasure in acquiring and forwarding scientific knowledge.

I also believe that it essential that students experience what their knowledge can mean for practice. All of my courses incorporate practical assignments that students work on applying a strong theoretical/evidence-based fundament. The importance of theory for practice and vice-versa is, as such, always one of the central themes in the courses I teach.

Keywords: Socratic method, developing trust in own (scientific) knowledge and abilities, individual approach, intrinsic motivation, practical relevance.


During the last 20 years as a lecturer at Leiden University, I have been fortunate to pass on my passion for Health Psychology to hundreds of students in the Netherlands and abroad. I have supervised almost 100 students on their Master’s thesis projects, and am proud of all of them. I am also happy that quite many of the former students have pursued a PhD trajectory and continue to work in academia, and that many others have found a position within the field of health promotion or public health.

Among the courses I coordinate and teach, are:

–          Health Promotion and Disease Prevention: a Health Psychology Master’s course on the design of intervention programs to promote health behavior, based on a systematic evidence-based approach (applying the Intervention Mapping protocol). In the final weeks students prepare workshops and environmental interventions for the Healthy University Days.

–          Research Topics in Health Promotion:  In this Psychology Research Master course, students reflect on one main psychological construct of their interest, how it is embedded in theory, the proposed underlying working mechanisms, and on how it may be related to health behavior. Based on these analyses students  determine what the next step should be to increase knowledge on the construct, and formulate a new research question and study design, which they present their work during a final poster-presentation workshop.

–          Health Promotion: within the International Public Health post-graduate program at the Hogeschool Leiden, this is a course for health care professionals who wish to work in developing countries. During this intensive one-week course, students work on an assignment developing a specific Health Promotion intervention that is relevant to a serious public health problem in a developing country of their choice.

Over the years, I have developed a sound vision on teaching, in which natural curiosity and building trust in own abilities are the key elements, see vision