This case explores a challenge faced by Rotterdam School of Applied Sciences, a Dutch higher professional education institute. In order to honour its commitment to diversity and increase equal opportunities, the school needed to address a gap that had become apparent in the academic performances of different demographic segments of its student population.

The backdrop is an increased sense of urgency to deal with the issue, not only from within the school but also from the societal perspective of fulfilling the emancipatory role of public education. Students will work on the implementation of an evidence-based, goal-setting intervention in a regular curriculum. They will also learn about handling tensions that arise when a top-down research approach encounters modern management and a bottom-up organisational culture.

This case is part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) case series of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University. The case focuses on SDG 4 (Quality Education) and SDG 10 (Reduced Inequalities). Video learning materials and other resources about these SDGs are available at

1. Describe behavioural and organisational factors that are relevant in an educational context;

2. Integrate these factors into an innovation or change management analysis;

3. Evaluate the impact of these factors in relation with SDGs.

Post-experience audiences, more specifically, can also use the case to

4. Explore similarities and differences between Rotterdam School of Applied Sciences and their own organisations;

5. Reflect on existing attitudes towards change (both bottom-up and topdown) within own team and oneself;

6. Identify possible barriers and catalysts for successfully implementing the intervention;

7. Create a roadmap for the implementation of a goal-setting intervention programme.

The case can be used with different target audiences in mind. It is suitable for business school students at the Bachelor’s, Master’s (MSc or MBA) or executive level in the areas of sustainability, leadership, change management, or organisational management. It is also tailor-made for students and professionals in educational management or public administration. Besides, it can be used for training purposes within educational organisations that wish to implement the goal-setting intervention.

Public education; university; vocational education; high school; academic performance; ethnicity; migrants; culture; gender; equality; diversity; emancipation; motivation; intervention

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