Femke Geijsel's work focuses on management ideologies and leadership styles within various education sectors and across different layers of education institutions. She studies factors that could explain problems affecting leadership and management at such institutions and the effects of measures to promote the development and improvement of leadership and management (including professionalisation). Geijsel is also interested in the impact of professionalisation programmes on participants, their professional development and the learning capacity of the organisations where they work. One special theme within her research is exploratory innovation and research leadership at schools, in connection with which she took part in a collaborative study into government-subsidised development and research projects in secondary education (the Expeditie Durven-Delen-Doen (‘Dare-Share-Do Expedition’) and SLOA-VO projects; in association with the VO-raad (Secondary Education Board)).
Her current research builds on her own previous studies on transformational leadership, innovative capacity, citizenship-building and school development. Working with fellow scientists, Geijsel developed the Dutch School Improvement Questionnaire, which measures innovative capacity, and a citizenship measurement tool (Meetinstrument Burgerschap – www.burgerschapmeten.nl).
Geijsel has worked at the UvA since 2004, first as a postdoc and subsequently as a university lecturer in the Educational Sciences Department, at the Kohnstamm Institute and in the teacher-training programme. In 2012 she joined the UvA's Research Institute of Child Development and Education as a senior researcher and the UvA's Amsterdam Center for Inequality Studies (AMCIS). Alongside her work at the UvA, Geijsel also held a lectorate in Pedagogical Quality at Windesheim University of Applied Sciences in Zwolle from 2009 until September 2014, together with Dr Yvonne Leeman. In that capacity she led the Regional Attention and Action for Knowledge circulation's project-based research (RAAK-PRO) on ‘Citizenship and School Development’ and was leading lector of the Master's programme in Learning and Innovation.
On 1 January 2014, Geijsel succeeded Prof. Robert-Jan Simons as director of the NSO, a foundation in which the UvA, VU University Amsterdam, Utrecht University, Leiden University and Radboud University work together to train education leaders and managers. Established from within the UvA 25 years ago, the NSO was an initiative of Prof. Fons van Wieringen and Dr Peter Karstanje († 2012). Geijsel has published on a wide range of topics, including the scientific journals Educational Administration Quarterly, Elementary School Journal, Journal of Educational Administration, Journal of Youth Studies and School Effectiveness and School Improvement.