An alternative route to research

I love what I do. I’m a scientist and a teacher. I started my PhD last September, which I had always dreamed of doing. But when I began my studies in 2005 (a Psychology Bachelor in Groningen), I had no idea about how I would find my bliss. Maybe you feel similarly?


I was hooked. I loved it. I just knew that this was what I wanted in life


After my first course in doing research at the Bachelor, I was hooked. I loved it. I just knew that this was what I wanted in life: digging into interesting subjects, adding knowledge, and writing about it. The only thing I had to figure out was what my subject of interest would be. But I had plenty of time for that.

To increase that time a little further still, I decided to follow another Bachelor programme in September 2006, namely Dutch language and culture. Since finishing high school I had missed reading and talking about books. I had always loved reading and somehow felt an urge to do that at an academic level. Besides, I wanted to broaden my view of and way of thinking about the world.

I have to admit that my first year of combining two studies was not my best. It was hard to schedule all lectures and classes besides all the parties and other necessary activities in a student’s life. Although I struggled a little, I kept searching for my subject of interest in Psychology. Developmental Psychology captured my attention, although the period in life I found most interesting, adolescence, was a little neglected. Neuropsychology was fascinating, but after a Career event organised by the VIP, I realised that wasn’t for me either. The lectures about Clinical Psychology were intriguing, but I was more interested in normal development with everyday struggles than problematic clinical behavior. Organizational Psychology never even crossed my mind and Social Psychology didn’t attract me either. My search was at a stalemate and, in the meantime, I was close to finishing both of my Bachelor programmes in January 2010.


I ended up with a choice that seemed to change everything in my future


Due to changes in the Master programmes, it was more beneficial for me to first get my degree in Dutch language and culture. I decided to go for historical literature. I was the only student in that Master programme so I had to shop around a little to find nice courses. I ended up with a choice that seemed to change everything in my future. I had to choose between a course called ‘stereotypes and identity in the 12th century’ or a course and internship about teaching at high school. The first option did not seem interesting to me that I took option two. I never ever thought of myself as a teacher but I really liked teaching. I liked my adolescent audience and I loved talking to them about books (teaching grammar I took for granted). At that moment I decided to get my teaching degree and a career at high school.

I finished my Master degree in historical literature in January 2011. In the six months that followed I managed to complete a full Master programme of psychology at the Theory and History department. From September 2011 till July 2012 I followed a post-Master programme in teaching and during that year I had an internship in high school. In the beginning I had to survive a paper plane attack but besides that seemingly necessary teacher test I really enjoyed teaching. After that year school offered me a job and I still work at the same school.

Although I still like teaching, I started to miss something a few years ago. I missed the opportunity to learn and to absorb knowledge. And above all I missed doing research. Luckily for me NWO had started a special programme for teachers. They offer teachers funding for a PhD-programme of their choice. All you have to do is to write a research proposal and to survive the hell called “interview.” After all those years of studying and working my subject of interest finally became clear. It needed to be something related to reading books and the psychological benefits books can have in the normal development of adolescents although the motivation for reading is low in this period of life. A year ago, I got the liberating letter from NWO telling me they had granted my proposal for my research in motivation for reading and the implementation of bibliotherapy in high school literature education. I started my PhD-project last September and I really enjoy working on it. And besides that, I still work as a teacher for two days a week with my favorite audience.



Anouk de Kleijn is currently working as an external PhD student at the Theory and History department. During her studies in Pychology and Dutch Language and Culture and later in her work as a teacher at high school she developed an interest in adolescent development, reading motivation and bibliotherapy. Since she always wanted to do research she deciced to aim at a NWO funding for teachers and started her PhD project about the implementation of bibliotherapeutic principles in literature education in high school in order to enhance reading motivation and person growth in high school students.

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