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Dr M.E.J. Raijmakers (1967) has been named Professor by Special Appointment of Cognitive Developmental Psychology, specialising in science learning in non-formal environments, at the University of Amsterdam’s (UvA) Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences.

Dr M.E.J. Raijmakers (1967) has been named Professor by Special Appointment of Cognitive Developmental Psychology, specialising in science learning in non-formal environments, at the University of Amsterdam’s (UvA) Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences. The chair was designated on behalf of the NCWT/NEMO Foundation (national centre for science and technology).

As professor by special appointment, Maartje Raijmakers will be investigating cognitive development as linked to learning about science and technology. From an early age, we as human beings experience various phenomena such as floating and sinking, shadow and light, and biological growth, that we later encounter as science and technology subjects at school. These first-hand experiences contribute crucial knowledge about phenomena that are not always easy to describe in words. Science education seeks to impart explicit knowledge about science and technology, as well as an enthusiasm for the subject. The context of non-formal learning conjures up positive emotions, appeals to our intrinsic motivation and offers attractive conditions for enriching experiences. As an environment that combines explicit knowledge with hands-on experience, it is also a very interesting area of study. Raijmakers’ research will encompass both a fundamental and an applied dimension. One avenue of her research will investigate learning processes that involve both implicit and explicit knowledge. The other, based at the NEMO Science Center, will explore how theory can be put to practice to maximise the learning process, and specifically the acquisition of knowledge and skills and the elevation of motivation and attitude.

Raijmakers has held various positions within the UvA’s Psychology Department since 1997, most recently as senior university lecturer since 2008. In 2006 Raijmakers was awarded a Vidi grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). She is also a principal investigator within the Brain & Cognition research priority area at the Cognitive Science Center Amsterdam, where she investigates the development of learning processes in infants, children, adolescents and adults. Raijmakers has authored numerous publications, including for such professional journals as Developmental Science, Journal of Neuroscience and Science Education.