Teacher Award

Category Description

Teacher Award

This prize is for teachers who go the extra mile and deserve some time in the spotlight! Just nominate a teacher who you think deserves to win an award! The list of nominees will also be used as input for the VU Central Teaching awards.

2020-2021 Nominees Teacher Award (Talent):

Anne de Bruijn

What is your mission?

I find intrinsic motivation the most important factor for learning. Students should be personally motivated to learn and achieve their goals, instead of having the feeling that they are obliged to complete their courses. Therefore, I believe that personal relevance and room for personal involvement is very important in education.

How do you approach this within the educational environment?

I aim to motivate students for their own learning via personal contact and an interest in their (out-of-university) wellbeing, by giving them responsibility for their own learning, and by using concrete, real-life examples. I understand that students are busy as well, and try to help them as soon as possible.

Anne Marije Kaag

What is your mission?

My main mission as a teacher is to give students the confidence to critically reflect about and perform research within the field of Clinical, Neuro and Developmental psychology. As a teacher and (female) scientist I furthermore hope to act as a role-model for a healthy work-life balance within academia.

How do you approach this within the educational environment?

I always try to be an approachable teacher, who is open for criticism as well. Through my teaching I aim to provide my students with knowledge and tools that will help them to develop as a clinician, researcher and as a person.

Anne-Roos Kors

What is your mission?

It is my mission to provide my students with useful and practical examples of the educationalists’ profession. I motivate students to immerse themselves in the provided orthopedagogic theory and to ask questions during lectures. Furthermore, I aim to help them to get confident about their skills, so they can apply this later on in their own profession.

How do you approach this within the educational environment?

I inspire students with good examples from professionals in the same line of work, and motivate them to debate about these examples during lectures. This helps my students to apply the theory and put it into practice. In my opinion, this way, students will learn the most, compared to only read the theoretical information.

Beata Schrier

What is your mission?

On one side I want my students to reach their full potential by teaching them it is okay to make mistakes in order to learn! On the other side I want to provide the academic and social support for them to have a great experience during their college years.

How do you approach this within the educational environment?

By creating a safe environment to practice during my classes and teaching students how to give and receive constructive feedback. By responding quickly to emails, asking ‘how are you doing, really?’ and occasionally ending my class with a ‘pick me up’ where we share something we are looking forward to.

Bibiana Armenta Gutierrez

What is your mission?

My vision is that besides facilitating a deep understanding of the course content teaching should promote civic responsibility, personal development, and self-learning. With these goals in mind I encourage students to reflect on their own learning goals and I use activities to further develop critical thinking and academic skills.

How do you approach this within the educational environment?

For example, in lectures I like to use problem solving activities or case studies that students can apply to their daily lives or to current societal problems. In smaller groups or when supervising theses I consider important to empower students to find their own answers before voicing my own.

Brooke Slawinski

What is your mission?

My mission as a teacher is twofold. First, I aim to nurture curiosity about and excitement for psychological science in my students. Second, I also aim to facilitate the development of skills that extend beyond the classroom, including critical thinking, collaboration, giving and receiving constructive criticism, and communicating knowledge.

How do you approach this within the educational environment?

I particularly enjoy using collaborative, case-based approaches in the classroom, so that students acquire a deeper understanding of the principles and procedures of clinical and research activities. For example, alternating between disclosing case information and fostering discussion, which allows students to learn to develop, test, and evaluate differential diagnostic hypotheses.

Fanny de Swart

What is your mission?

My mission is to inspire students and to bring the theory to life. Furthermore, I want to bring out the best in each student, while giving them confidence in themselves as a person, and in their abilities.

How do you approach this within the educational environment?

During my lectures I clearly link theory to practice, with (clinical) examples. I ensure a safe and accepting social classroom environment, in which students are challenged to voice their ideas, and think for themselves. I try to be a model for students in normalizing insecurities.

Femke van der Wilt

What is your mission?

It is my mission to help students become educators who dig deep, ask questions, take multiple perspectives into account and engage in self-reflection. Besides intellectual challenge, I find it important that students enjoy my lectures, feel heard and find themselves in a safe environment - characterized by togetherness and collaboration.

How do you approach this within the educational environment?

I challenge students by setting high expectations, asking questions that are hard to answer, playing the devil's advocate and offering extra reading. Moreover, I often talk with students about their interests and how they are doing. And in my lectures, I ensure there is always room for jokes and laughter.

Hesther van Gulick

What is your mission?

My main goal as a teacher is to make a connection with the students. I aim to create a save environment to discuss opinions, as well as share a laugh or a tear every once in a while. I want to make a difference in the lives of my students.

How do you approach this within the educational environment?

I make an effort to get to know my students and let them know they can always come to me when something is bothering them. I create fun memories with my students by doing quizzes and playing games, often as part of a learning activity.


Ilja Cornelisz

What is your mission?

If you take away the numbers, statistics is simply about using your senses to better understand this –very strange- world surrounding us all. I find it important that everyone develops a basic understanding of using statistical tools and that it is no crime to have some fun while doing so.

How do you approach this within the educational environment?

I try to create a safe learning environment with ample materials for students to practice. In class, we conduct short surveys to collect data and run analyses. Like a live cooking programme, things can go horribly wrong, but it is all the more satisfying when it actually works out!

Jaap van der Veen

What is your mission?

My most important conviction as a teacher is the importance of a “safe classroom”. That is, a classroom in which every student feels sufficiently comfortable to share their thoughts and feelings. Moreover, a classroom in which they and others experience the freedom to critically reflect on these thoughts and feelings.

How do you approach this within the educational environment?

I approach education with an intrinsic passion for the topic at hand, respect for diversity and inclusiveness, and a healthy dose of self-deprecation. In the classroom, I am responsible for an environment that allows safe and intuitive learning. The responsibility then lies with the students to participate in it.

Jet Cremer

What is your mission?

Be an inspiration for students during their development as a human. Don’t tell them what to do, but ask them why and how they want to develop and grow. Make some fun with each other and give every character space in the room.

How do you approach this within the educational environment?

Don’t talk too much but ask open questions. Not only about their study career, but involve also their private life and interests.

Jody Huijgens

What is your mission?

My mission is to teach and guide my students in becoming a future professional. I integrate examples from my clinical experience in lectures, not only to enthuse them about the orthopedagogy, but also to stimulate critical thinking about their own values and interests and to connect knowledge to meaningful examples.

How do you approach this within the educational environment?

I started a CSL-project, in which students support children in the step to secondary school. Students interview parents of children with special needs in ‘Gespreksvaardigheden’ (communication skills). Provide students with ample examples of my clinical experience in word and image. Stimulate relevant discussions about their future field of work.

Jolien Zevalkink

What is your mission?

As a teacher, I try to inspire students to learn about psychology from a clinical and developmental perspective, to provide them with related key concepts for their scientific and/ or applied professions, and to entice them to use it in their daily lives while interacting with friends, family and others.

How do you approach this within the educational environment?

Teaching via examples from daily life, video vignettes, asking questions, and being open for any ideas, questions and diverse points of view. I belief in active learning opportunities using assignments, discussions and tools. Mostly, I belief in personal contact to stimulate curiosity towards different perspectives on psychopathology and developmental processes.


Killian Wawoe

What is your mission?

Merging science and practice into my lectures. My field of expertise has a strong link with what happens in organisations. I want to inspire my students to use science to solve real-life problems.

How do you approach this within the educational environment?

My starting my lectures with real-life cases, invite guest speakers and tell about my own experience as Human Resources adviser.

Lisette Schmidt

What is your mission?

I feel closely involved with my students, and I strive for students to experience my commitment in that way too. My goal is not only to improve their academic skills and qualities, but also their self-confidence.

How do you approach this within the educational environment?

By often giving positive feedback, I try to ensure that students can focus on developing themselves and their skills without fear of making mistakes. I hope students appreciate how I help them move forward by providing them the right balance between challenge and support.

Nina Ambachtsheer

What is your mission?

My primary goal is to make Methods and Statistics understandable and accessible for all students. I believe that students are capable of more than they think, and I want to help students gain confidence and show them that they can master these more complex topics.

How do you approach this within the educational environment?

With the Methods Helpdesk we want to provide an easy and approachable way for students to get help with performing statistical analyses and interpreting the results for their bachelor or master thesis.

Sevin Ozmen

What is your mission?

My mission is to encourage personal growth amongst students: supporting them in their journey of self-discovery, getting them to see their strengths, helping them find the things that interest them and make them tick, and growing their confidence and self-esteem.

How do you approach this within the educational environment?

I try to focus as much on the individual student, as I do the educational material. I use my background in psychology and life-coaching to try and understand students, ask ‘coaching’ questions, give highly personalized feedback, and provide general insights into the human mind.

Tessa Rigterink

What is your mission?

Create a safe (learning) environment for students. Make sure students feel heard and seen (a though challenge during last year). Guide and challenge students to think critically and cooperate. Provide some tools for students to make studying more manageable.

How do you approach this within the educational environment?

Let students know I’m there to help them; during classes, but also with personal matters. Stimulate interactive teaching sessions by encourage students to ask questions and to make known if they didn’t understand something. Structure courses as well as possible and schedule physical classes as much as possible.

Wendy Andrews

What is your mission?

I want to stimulate students to think critically about what they read and learn and to apply what they learn to the real world (e.g., real organizations).

How do you approach this within the educational environment?

I try to offer diverse activities. I think students learn a lot from actively engaging with the course materials, so I try to give them activities in which they have to apply what I am teaching them, and if possible have fun as well.

2020-2021 Nominees: Teacher Award (Experienced):

Annemiek van Straten

What is your mission?

First: I especially like to explain in my teaching how students can use the knowledge and skills in their future careers within mental health. Second: I want students to realize their full potential. For me this implies that I help them if possible if they face either academic or personal problems.

How do you approach this within the educational environment?

I always try to come up with examples within mental health care and / or invite people working within the field. I try to make the lectures / meetings as safe as possible so that students are not afraid to ask questions or bring forward their opinions or doubts.

Chiel van der Veen

What is your mission?

I think in the end I just want my students to care and think about the educational sciences, (scientific) knowledge, and the world. As a teacher, I aim to do so by providing them with high quality knowledge, real life examples, tools to think, and by modelling.


How do you approach this within the educational environment?

I aim to support my students’ thinking through academically productive dialogues. These dialogues give students the opportunity to familiarize themselves with different (and sometimes conflicting) perspectives, and to deepen their knowledge. Productive dialogues are always an important part of my lectures.

Edwin Koster

What is your mission?

Challenge students to think about their own academic discipline in particular and about science in general. Which hidden assumptions guide our research and how can we critically reflect on them? Thinking about this topic can also raise the question of who you are (or want to be) as a scientist.

How do you approach this within the educational environment?

By providing inspiring lectures with many stimulating examples and challenging assignments. By setting high standards for slides and study material. By relating to subjects that are chosen by the students themselves. By presenting philosophy in such a way that it leads to a deeper understanding of one's own academic discipline.

Erik Scherder

What is your mission?

I love to show my students how wonderful it is to feel a deep passion for your study and the profession after you have finished your study. That passion is closely related to a need for more knowledge/expertise in that particular area. The more knowledge you have, the more you love what you do. Together with my students, we make that ‘learning’ journey during the course. How exciting!

How do you approach this within the educational environment?

I do my best to create an atmosphere of being together, students ánd teacher, to tackle difficult issues together and to celebrate our final success! The course should be one big joyful adventure!

Geert Buijtenweg

What is your mission and how do you approach this within the educational environment?

I teach didactics in the teaching trainer master course and anatomy in the bachelor's degree program. In addition, I guide and inspire my team of Junior teachers. These junior teachers teach with great passion, and further develop a good education standard for the students. This is why I believe that they deserve this teacher award even more. My mission is also to challenge the student in a rich learning environment. A didactic environment in which everything is well organized, with the latest and best digital tools. In order to allow the students to grow and become better at the subject this way. As well as with many personal interactions in the meetings to establish the connection. Every day I still have so much fun in front of the class or in zoom. This enthusiasm from my students and I is due to the variety of active teaching methods in which people work hard with a good attitude, and where a good joke is often made with a bit of humor (see the anatomy (g)rap).

Jaap van Dieen

What is your mission?

My mission is to teach students to think critically yet constructively. This has three pillars: logic, knowledge of the facts, and an unambiguous (use of) language. The aim is to build theories of how things work that reconcile the observed facts (data) in a consistent (logical), causal narrative.

How do you approach this within the educational environment?

I use discussion of empirical observations to show that a consistent narrative can be created and can solve paradoxes and controversies. I emphasize that many facts can be predicted by logic starting from a limited number of facts and “laws". I reflect on terminology used in lectures and in discussions.

Jan-Willem van Prooijen

What is your mission?

My mission is to not only transfer knowledge and skills, but also encourage students’ curiosity. Moreover, I try to be supportive of students’ needs, and help them grow as an academic and as a person. It is important that students realize just how exciting the field of psychology is.

How do you approach this within the educational environment?

I often illuminate how psychology is indispensable to understand the bigger issues of our time, such as human behavior in the context of the pandemic, climate change, inequality, and so on. Practical examples, lively discussions, and online tools are designed to stimulate students and learn beyond the course requirements.

John Stins

What is your mission?

My mission is to inspire students and broaden their horizons. Teaching is not about putting knowledge in heads, but to create awareness that all knowledge is interconnected. I want to challenge students to discover these connections themselves, and provide them with the tools to do so.

How do you approach this within the educational environment?

I always challenge students to develop a better understanding of a phenomenon, and identify where their own knowledge is incomplete. This involves skills such as collecting and analyzing data, finding the right literature, and teamwork. I aim to guide students in developing those skills and become independent thinkers.

Josh Tybur

What is your mission?

To better understand the world, scientists must navigate a number of complex concepts. This navigation can be especially challenging in psychology, given that we naturally have (sometimes inaccurate) intuitions about the causes and consequences of behavior. My mission is to help students overcome intuitions where necessary and master challenging concepts.

How do you approach this within the educational environment?

I use three E’s: (1) Examples, which form the foundation for explaining complex topics; (2) Enthusiasm, which is infectious and increases students’ own excitement from the material; and (3) Empathy, which helps me understand where students are coming from, what they find difficult, and how I can better teach them.

Lieke Peper

What is your mission?

Although views on sensorimotor coordination can be quite complicated and/or abstract, I try to make them accessible to large groups of Bachelor’s and Master’s students. I aim to provide a well-balanced background for critical and creative thinking that students can draw from later, when working on practical or theoretical problems.

How do you approach this within the educational environment?

Given COVID-19 restrictions, I invested heavily in slide-casts explaining the essence of mechanisms and theories. Interactive zoom-sessions allowed for knowledge testing and broader discussions, using polls, open questions, and examples. (The SMC-course also involved web-labs, workgroups, and a video-recorded practical.) I aim for an open atmosphere, where students feel free to participate.

Maarten Bobbert

What is your mission?

The purpose of university teaching is turning students from knowledge consumers into critical thinkers with skills to create knowledge. I want my students to always question claims they hear and read, check facts and premisses, analyse the soundness and validity of argumentations, and generate their own sound and valid argumentations.

How do you approach this within the educational environment?

I always use flipped classrooms and open exam questions to create productive struggle. Students prepare for classes by actively reading content at home. Classes and seminars are dedicated to the explanation of difficult material, for application of what was learned at home, and for practicing argumentation to answer (exam) questions.

Marjolein Luman

What is your mission?

My aim is to educate students as scientists-practitioners who use clinically relevant questions within their research work, and/or use scientific knowledge and skills in order to improve clinical practice. I want to teach them that they can really make a difference in improving the lifes of children and their families!

How do you approach this within the educational environment?

Besides presenting students up-to-date scientific knowledge and skills, we try to integrate clinical practice within our educational program, by inviting clinicians who work in the field as lecturers, by promoting discussion with different patients groups, and by letting students work with clinically relevant assessment tools and interventions.

Menno van der Schoot

What is your mission?

In the end, my hope is to inspire curiosity and critical thinking in my students, realizing that both rise in tandem with knowledge. Especially in today’s complex and rapidly changing society, I believe it is important to empower students to always challenge assumptions and ask questions that lead to new insights and perspectives.

How do you approach this within the educational environment?

The challenge for me, as a teacher in the field of educational neuroscience, primarily lies in making seemingly ‘boring’ subject matter (e.g. brain functioning) more appealing. To achieve this, two things are essential: (1) create a positive learning environment with active student involvement, and (2) clarify in-depth why knowledge of the brain is relevant to educational practice.

Reinout de Vries

What is your mission?

My mission is to instill in students a passion for psychology in general and for personality psychology in particular.

How do you approach this within the educational environment?

I hope I can convey to students a love of personality psychology. I know each student will pick up something different from my courses; that’s how individual differences work! My courses are – I hope – a starting point for students for further explorations into the truly exciting area of personality psychology!

Sabina Kef

What is your mission?

I am committed to teaching because of the inspiring journey that students experience during their bachelor-PMC-Master education. Not only regarding increased (academic) knowledge, but also on domains as recognitions, beliefs, attitudes, reflection, introspection, personal development, and becoming starting professionals you can play a (small or big) role in this growing process as a teacher, motivator and coach. In this way you are not only educating the students towards the goals of your curricuum and preparing them for their starting careers, but join them in their development of becoming inspiring persons in society.

How do you approach this within the educational environment?

In my contacts with students I try to combine academic knowledge with scientific and societal relevance of it. Furthermore, I will provide them with examples of situations relating to their future careers and use my own personal experiences while appropriate. I try to make the content of my teaching and coaching meaningfull and inspirational, by using a lot of anonymus cases and examples derived from recent activities in society.

Sander Begeer

What is your mission?

My field of research, developmental disorders and autism, is quite young and dynamic. There is so much we don’t know yet. So rather than imposing knowledge, I like to make students curious about all the confusion and study fundamental questions together.

How do you approach this within the educational environment?

I like to empower students to come up with their own questions, encourage them to take initiative, and facilitate them to study findings that directly contribute to the field. In other words, I let them do all the work.


Sander Los

What is your mission?

Regarding research methods, my mission is to foster critical thinking in students, and provide them with tools that allow them to assess a claim on the basis of the available evidence.

How do you approach this within the educational environment?

My approach is twofold. During lectures I discuss the scope and limitations of typical research methods in behavioral research. During tutorials, students are involved in a class experiment and they are stimulated to apply their knowledge on the obtained data.

Theo de Haan

What is your mission?

My mission is to share the magic of learning in a safe and pleasant teaching environment.

How do you approach this within the educational environment?

My approach is a personal and empathizing one. I am striving to genuinely connect with the experience of my students in order to be able to get across the often quite tough concepts of my courses. I try to be easily accessible and will always respond with a smile and a touch of Amsterdam humour.