Professional development in the fields of health and teaching: future directions, theories and new methodologies

Target group

The target audience for this conference are PhD students doing research that involves the development of continuous professional development programs for teachers or health professionals but also PhD students with an interest in motivation, or in promoting youngsters self-esteem and well-being.

Organizing committee

The leading organizer for the present course is the research group in sport pedagogy (Prof. L. Haerens) of the Department of Movement and Sports Sciences. This proposal is furthermore part of an interuniversity partnership between different research groups of the UGent, VUB, and the university of Utrecht (The Netherlands). Different researchers of the departments of movement sciences of the Ghent University and VUB who have been working together in the PANU network (Physical Activity Nutrition) are supporting the current proposal, and have indicated they would benefit from attending the specialized course. Moreover, this proposal is also situated within a novel collaboration between the University of Ghent, the VUB and the University of Utrecht (The Netherlands), which emerged as part of a joint PHD-study (UGent - Utrecht), and the appointment of Prof. Kristine De Martelaer for a special Chair in “Pedagogy of Physical education”, embedded in the division of Education of the faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences of Utrecht University.


As in any profession, it is important for health professionals and teachers to regularly engage in continuous professional development (CPD) programs as to stay up-to-date with innovations in the field and to assimilate new knowledge, skills, and expertise (e.g. Opfer & Pedder, 2011). However, the sustained impact of professionals’ engagement in CPD is often questioned, particularly if CPD consists of a one-day workshop. The wider CPD literature argues for alternative approaches thereby implementing particular methods (e.g. action research, lesson study, communities of practice), multiple sessions and including sustained and intensive follow-up activities (O’Sullivan & Deglau, 2006). In addition, recent research increasingly suggests that besides passing on an acceptable and convincing content of the CPD program, it is as important, if not, more important to pay attention to ‘how’ the training is delivered as to foster full acceptance of the message conveyed (Aelterman et al., 2015; Swennen et al., 2008). Clearly, the body of literature on the topic of effective CPD has grown over the past years, and the knowledge from this research area is crucially important for any researcher who is designing intervention studies aimed at training professionals to change their behavior. As such, many research groups at Ghent University, including the research units of Sport Pedagogy (Prof. dr. L. Haerens) and physical activity, fitness and health (Prof. I. De Bourdeaudhuij) at Ghent University, who develop, implement, and evaluate CPD programs for stakeholders in their field (e.g. teachers, health professionals) would benefit from a specialized course centered around the topic of professional development.


The present course aims at further optimizing research methodologies on professional development by providing opportunities for CPD-scholars to present and exchange their expertise. As such this course is relevant for any PHD student in the faculty who is training professionals (teachers, health professionals) through CPD. Through lectures given by international experts in research on professional development, the participants will predominantly learn about completed studies on professional development in a wide range of contexts (teaching and health contexts), practical experiences of international researchers will be shared, relevant research theories and frameworks will be presented, and study methods (for longitudinal and cross-sectional studies) and future research challenges will be discussed.
The specialist course consists of four sessions (see tentative program). The first session consists of a guest lecture combined with a research seminar, and opportunities for expert consultations that deals with theories and new methodologies for CPD. The second session consists of a guest lecture on new contents for CPD, followed by a PhD presentation that involves implications for the delivery of CPD programs. In a third session, a guest lecture on successful CPD will be followed by discussion activities on implications for students’ own research. The final session consists of a lecture on action research, a specific method for CPD and involves presentations of masters’ students action research projects.


  • Session 2: Wednesday, January 6, 2016: Program and registration links will be announced soon


see program


Some sessions will be given in Dutch, while other sessions will be given in English.

Registration fee

The course will be free of charge for members of the Doctoral Schools of UGent.

Number of participants

Maximum 25


Participants are required to be present and participate actively during all sessions.