Who's in Control? Finding Balance in Student-Teacher Interactions

B.T. Agricola

Research output: PhD thesisResearch external, graduation external


In higher education students have many interactions with their teacher in which teachers provide support for students’ learning. Feedback conversations in higher education are specific examples of student-teacher interactions and are the objects of this research project. Feedback conversations can help students to acquire the essential skills for the task they are working on. In five empirical studies, we aimed to unravel the complexity of face-to-face feedback conversations between teachers and students in higher education. We explored how these student-teacher interactions take place, why they interact the way they do, and we stimulated teachers to interact differently.
In many of the feedback conversations we observed student-teacher interactions that were characterized by a teacher-centred approach. This seems to be an acceptable teaching strategy when students are starting with a new task. We have provided the empirical evidence about how teachers can strengthen the role of students and how they can stimulate students to take on responsibility for their own learning process. Our teachers were able to apply indirect teaching strategies, such as asking questions and prompting, to stimulate students to think for themselves. We hope that this dissertation will inspire teachers, as well as researchers, to find the balance in student-teacher interactions, and conclude as we did: both students and teachers should be in control.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Universiteit Utrecht
  • van der Schaaf, Marieke F, Supervisor, External person
  • van Tartwijk, Jan, Supervisor, External person
  • Prins, Frans, Co-supervisor, External person
Thesis sponsors
Award date21 Jun 2019
Place of PublicationUtrecht
Print ISBNs9789402815177
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


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