I am Alice, born Alice Haverkorn in 1961. During my bachelor study in Applied Physics, I married Ward Cottaar. After my master degree I have been engaged in raising 5 children, all born between 1984 and 1990. And now, I am the proud grandmother of three grandsons and three granddaughters, born between 2012 and 2014. While my children were still very young, we lived in Belgium (1988-1990) and the US (1990-1995) and I have been full-time mum until 1999.

I have been working as a physics teacher in many different jobs at many different levels of education. At the moment, I am an independent science education researcher, with a guest contract (with facilities but no salary) at the Applied Physics faculty of the Eindhoven University of Technology. I raise money for my research by coaching and private teaching students and I am a freelance minister at an ecumenical church in Eindhoven (ESKkapel).

Recently I have gotten more and more involved in teaching at different democratic schools in the Netherlands (Eindhoven, Soest, and Maastricht).

As a high school physic teacher and later on when coaching engineering students, I realized that our school system at the moment seems not to be very well suited to teach the kids who have high potential. Classes are very large and as a teacher one is expected to cover a large amount of topics in only a very limited number of lessons.  The work of Sadler and Tai shows that teaching physics in depth by only covering a limited number of topics is much more effective. I started this research project in analogy with the research project of Sadler and Tai in order to find out what aspects of physics teaching are most effective in the Netherlands.


Reviewed journal papers

Cottaar, A. (2012).Low (linear) effect of the physics teacher on achievement.
Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 49 (4), 465-488.

Conference papers of reviewed talks:

Cottaar, A. (2013). 'Whatever you do, you will never get them to work'; pre-academic male students in physics education. + Powerpoint of presentation.
NARST 2013 Science Education conference. Puerto Rico, USA.

Cottaar, A. (2012). Learning from mistakes; balancing masculine and feminine strategies in learning science. + Powerpoint of presentation.
VHTO 2012 Gender and STEM conference. Haarlem, Netherlands.

Cottaar, A. (2012). Extreem weinig meisjes in de natuurkunde klas. + Powerpoint presentatie.
ORD 2012 Dutch educational research conference. Wageningen, Netherlands.

Cottaar, A. (2010). Hoe succesvol zijn de vwo-natuurkunde docenten? + Powerpoint presentatie.
ORD 2010 Dutch educational research conference. Enschede, Netherlands.

Reviewed poster presentations

Cottaar, A. (2010). Differentiating in Physics Classrooms for Success.
AAPT 2010, Washington D.C. (Zahra Hazari represented me here).

Cottaar, A. (2009). Influences on the physics exam grades of (Dutch) high school students. or a webpage on this poster.
ESERA 2009, Istanbul, Turkey.

In progress. If ever...

Optimal relative effort-believe for effective learning of high school physics..

Balancing masculine daring and feminine effort for optimal learning in higher science education.



Religious Studies, Radboud University, Nijmegen (Bachelor) + certificate Latin.


Home Hospice Training, Santa Rosa, Ca (US).


Courses in Environmentology and Organization Sciences, Open University.


Applied Physics, University of Technology, Eindhoven.
+ teaching qualification for physics and mechanics at high school level.


Atheneum-B Rijnlands Lyceum, Oegstgeest and Hertog Jan College (now Were Di), Valkenswaard.

Work experience:


The study presented in this site.


Different (most temporary) jobs as a teacher at several locations throughout the country (the Netherlands).
Secondary education: physics, general sciences, special needs, correspondence education for expat children (IVIO, werelschool) + student coaching.
High level vocational higher education: physics, mechanics, programming skills in C  Mechanica, C-programmeren.
Academic higher education: Student advisor, quality manager, instruction.
Author teaching material.

Formative freelance activities:


Member of the board determining the nationwide examination syllabus for pre-academic high school physics.

2004- 2011

Member of the board organizing an annual two day conference for high school physics teachers with about 500 participants WND.

2003- 2009

Secretary national board for the association of physics teachers (part of NVON).

1996-2000 +

Freelance activities in different elementary school of my own children.


Home Hospice, Santa Rosa, Ca and Hammondsport, NY (US).


Home schooling American and Dutch curricula in the US (ivio-wereldschool).


Activities for student association; among other things, editor, secretary of the board, one of the initiator of the wervingsdagen.