NRO and its mission

The Netherlands Initiative for Education Research (NRO) contributes to innovation and improvements in education by coordinating and funding education research and by facilitating the links between educational practice and research.

NRO has three tasks:
1. facilitating the coherency of education research by providing direction at a national level;
2. awarding grants for high quality research;
3. facilitating knowledge utilisation by improving the links between science and practice.

NRO is a unit of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), the Dutch research council. For background information about the Dutch education system, please visit the governmental website.

To ensure that the financial resources for education research are spent as effectively as possible, NRO works on the basis of a predetermined programme and has an assessment procedure to select the best research proposals. The NRO Programme 2016-2019 (pdf) sets out the themes into which the NRO will initiate and coordinate research in the 2016-2019 period.

Our basic principles:

1. NRO research is scientifically reliable
2. NRO always looks for a connection between research and practice:
– through the involvement of practitioners and policy makers in the programming;
– through the involvement of researchers in the programming.
3. NRO covers a broad working field:
– pre-school to university education, special education, adult education, in-service training and professional development;
– educational studies and related disciplines: psychology, pedagogics, sociology, law, economics, etc.;
– various themes of education research that can broadly be classified as: in the class, in the school, in society.

From knowledge demand to programming

Which knowledge does the field of education need, which research is already being carried out and where are there still gaps? We explore this with partners in the professional field: school directors and sector organisations, policy officers, research institutes, advisers, supervisors, scientific researchers and other stakeholders. We itemise the research questions from all sectors and types of education, from preschool education to higher education. The list of questions from science, educational practice and education policy leads to subjects for research in the form of research programmes. By monitoring the research projects NRO increases the level of direction in education research.

Inviting researchers

NRO does not conduct any research itself but invites others to submit research proposals. Depending on the type of research question and the research approach that best fits this, the proposals come from research institutes such as universities and universities of applied sciences, or from consortia consisting of researchers and educational institutions.

Selecting the best proposals

We guarantee the reliability and scientific quality of the research that we fund. The tried and tested NWO selection procedures make this possible. Executing these procedures requires time and energy because, for example, NRO invites different experts from science and educational practice in the Netherlands and abroad for advice for each proposal. Should the research needs to start on short notice, we adapt the procedures to this need – of course without compromising on the reliability.  More about the assessment of research proposals 

Supervising research

If a research proposal has been awarded funding then we ensure that during the course of the project the research retains its relevant focus for educational practice or policy, even if new developments or insights have occured while excuting the project. To this end we regularly consult with the researchers and the intended end users.

Disseminating results

NRO is committed to enabling education to gain the maximum benefit from scientific insights. In a variety of ways we encourage the results of scientific education research ending up where they are needed most, whether or not that research was funded by NRO. For example, we have launched the Kennisportal Onderwijs (Knowledge Portal Education), which gives access to about 15 databases of results from education research, and the knowledge bank with our own NRO projects. We also support researchers with disseminating their results to a broad professional public and we organise meetings where researchers, education professionals and policy makers can exchange knowledge and experience.