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Welcome on the pages of the Center for Research on education and School Development!

The Center for Research on Education and School Development (IFS) at the TU Dortmund is committed to all areas of education research– from the description, explanation, and improvement of the organization and management of schools and the school system, to the analysis of educational processes and educational outcomes of students of different age groups in different contexts. Not limited to students, the research takes into account parents, teachers, school administration, and institutional frameworks. A special focus is research into the reform and development processes of schools and the school system, as well as the necessary conditions for these processes and their outcomes.  

The IFS was founded in 1973 as the "Center for School Development Research Education Research and Development" by the parliament of North Rhine-Westphalia and was affiliated with the former Pedagogical University of Dortmund. It quickly developed into a recognized academic institution of national importance, and a pioneer in education research, school development, as well as the structural and quantitative trends in education. The founder and former director of the IFS was Prof. em. Dr. Hans Günter Rolff.  From 2005-2014 the Institute was directed by Prof. Dr. Wilfried Bos. As of 2015 the IFS is directed by Prof. Dr. Nele McElvany. 

Research of empirical school development and educational science at the IFS is conducted in interdisciplinary teams. Educational, psychological, and sociological theories are developed, applied to core themes of education research and empirically tested. Depending on the research project a wide range of research designs (e.g., longitudinal, large-scale, intervention), survey methods (including questionnaires, interviews, competence tests, and videography), and quantitative and qualitative methods of analyzes are utilized.  

The IFS is divided into three research areas, differentiated by emphasis:  

Research Area I

Led by Prof. Dr. Wilfred Bos, Educational Monitoring and School Development Research includes national and international comparative large-scale studies (TIMSS, PIRLS, ICILS and NEPS) and studies on system monitoring. The working group is also responsible for school development projects focusing on educational justice in the area of metropolitan Ruhr, combining research and consultancy, and offering advisory services to schools and other educational administrative structures.

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Research Area II

Professor Dr. Heinz Günter Holtappels leads the working group School Development and Effectiveness, doing research into school reform and development processes, as well as research on the quality and effectiveness of educational organization and design in schools. Empirical research on preconditions, success factors, and the effects of school development processes is as much a focus as the identification of relevant influences on the quality of educational design, student learning and skills acquisition.

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Research Area III

Prof. Dr. Nele McElvany, acting director of the IFS, leads the working group Empirical Educational Research- teaching and learning in the school setting with a research focus on the description, explanation, and improvement of educational processes and success in terms of skills acquisition and educational participation across diverse backgrounds and age groups.

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The IFS is actively participating in the broader research community through publications, lectures, conference participation, and through interdisciplinary collaborative research projects at the national and international levels. In addition, the IFS maintains close contact with schools, and regional and national educational administration. This combination of knowledge transfer from and into educational practice and academic exchange with national and international research partners is a particular strength of the IFS. 


International cooperation with University of Mosul started


22.05.2017 – With ISIS takeover in parts of Iraq in 2014 the University of Mosul has been forced to flee the city. Since 2015 the university offers a reduced but impressive academic program serving about 14.000 students in exile. TU Dortmund University has in April, under the leadership of Dr. Heike Wendt (IFS) and Dr. Hasan Sinemillioglu (Faculty of Spatial Planning), successfully started a support-program, aiming at supporting young scientific staff members and developing strategies for the time after crisis. For a kick-off and development meetings the project leadership met the university presidency and staff members in Dohuk.


Early English Education at Primary school less effective then expected


10.05.2017 – In cooperation between the English Didactics of the Ruhr-University Bochum (Dr. Nils Jaekel und Prof. Markus Ritter) and the IFS within the project Ganz In the long-term effects of early english learning up from class one were evaluated. The early starters did better in class five however they were surpassed by their peers in class seven.
This result quickly agitated medial attention.


Presented results of scientific monitoring of the trial phase of "Community School"

Gemeinschaftsschule Projektlogo

05.05.2017 – At the beginning of May the team of the scientific evaluation of the trial phase of "Learning Longer Together" in North Rhine-Westphalia led by professor Holtappels and professor McElvany in Dusseldorf presented the final results of the project at an advisory board meeting. Ten community schools had been accompanied and examined for three years. In addition to the working team of the community school project and the project PRIMUS were also representatives of the Ministry of Education and Training of the State of NRW.


Dr. Miriam Gebauer represented the IFS at AERA 2017

Dr. Miriam Gebauer

27.04.2017 – At the annual conference of the American Educational Research Association, Dr. Miriam Gebauer successfully presented the IFS with the symposium "Conditions and Consequences of Educational Inequalities". On the subject of "Knowledge to Action: Achieving the Promise of Equal Educational Opportunity" international scientists met for common exchange and discourse in San Antonio, Texas from April 27 to May 01, 2017th.


2. volume of „Dortmunder Symposium der Empirischen Bildungsforschung“ published


04.04.2017 – The second volume of this book series focusses on conditions of successful learning-and educational processes. Renowned experts present current research from educational, psychological and didactic perspectives and discuss implications for further research in empirical educational studies. This book series presents results from the annual conference “Dortmunder Symposium der Empirischen Bildungsforschung” and is published by Waxmann.


Teacher education in international dialogue: TU Dortmund University students travel to Turkey


29.03.2017 – As part of innovative international teacher education program (CoTeach international) Dr. Heike Wendt is currently travelling with eleven students, enrolled in teacher education programs at TU Dortmund university, to Turkey to participate in a joint seminar with students from the DICLE Universität (Diyarbakir). As part of the seminar approaches to multicultural education in the Turkish education system will be explored and discussed in comparison to the German education system.


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Institut für Schulentwicklungsforschung (IFS)
TU Dortmund
Campus Nord (CDI Gebäude)
Vogelpothsweg 78
44227 Dortmund

Tel. +49 (0) 231 / 755-7955
Fax +49 (0) 231 / 755-5517