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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 University 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 research areas of the IFS are characterised by different focal points within educational and school research:

Research Area

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.

For more information please click here

Research Area

Current research in our lab focuses on three complementary research areas: (1) research on the teaching profession; (2) research on educational trajectories and on educational and occupational choices; and (3) research on the interplay between teacher and student characteristics and possible consequences for the instructional process.

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Research Area

Professor Dr. Michael Becker is head of the working group that deals primarily with individual developmental trajectories and institutional contexts.

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Research Area

Deputy Professor PD Dr. Gaspard deals with heterogeneity in the development of learning and achievement motivation in school contexts as well as factors influencing this development.

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Former research area

Educational Research and Quality Assurance

Team Prof. Dr. Wilfried Bos


Empirical Educational Research with a focus on Social Heterogeneity

Team Prof. Dr. Aileen Edele


School Development and School Efficacy

Team Prof. Dr. Heinz Günter Holtappels


Invitation & Call for Papers to the 6th Dortmund Symposium of Empirical Educational Research


03.03.2021 – On June 24, 2021, the IFS will host the sixth edition of the Dortmund Symposium of Empirical Educational Research, this year in digital form, on the topic "Optimizing school educational processes - What works?" Together with renowned experts, current research findings and debates will be discussed intensively. In addition, young researchers are cordially invited to submit contributions until March 31, 2021, if their qualification thesis deals with measures for the optimization of school educational processes! The IFS is looking forward to an exciting exchange!


International Mother Language Day: Nele McElvany talks to dpa


21.02.2021 – On the occasion of the "International Mother Language Day", which draws attention to linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism every year on February 21, Nele McElvany spoke to dpa about students who have a non-German language of origin and how they can be supported with language deficits. McElvany advocates moving language support to the elementary level. There would need to be both uniform standards that define what language skills children should have at a given age and uniform diagnostic testing procedures from which to draw conclusions about whether there is a need for support and how it should be implemented. Finally, it is important for all children to master basic skills, which include reading and writing, as they will need them throughout their lives.


Inaugural lecture completes habilitation


11.02.2021 – Dr. Hanna Pfänder, project manager of "Gemeinsam Ganztag" at the IFS, gave her digital inaugural lecture on February 10 on "Interschool Networks as a Support System for School Development". Like the two former IFS staff members, Dr. Katja Scharenberg and Dr. Daniel Kasper, who also gave their inaugural lecture on February 10, she has been awarded the Venia Legendi for the subject "Educational Science with a Focus on Empirical Educational Research". The IFS congratulates warmly!


Young scientists at the IFS – PromoKon goes digital


09.02.2021 – At the end of each semester, the IFS organizes the so-called PromoKon, the PhD conference, in which the PhD students report in small groups on the structural status of their PhD project. Progress, challenges and needs as well as next steps are discussed and individual measures are agreed upon. This semester the PromoKon will take place online due to Corona. We wish all participants a successful event!


Current research results


New journal article in Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability published

Strello, A., Strietholt, R., Steinmann, I., & Siepmann, C. (2021). Early Tracking and Different Types of Inequalities in Achievement: Difference-in-Differences Evidence from 20 Years of Large-scale Assessments. Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11092-020-09346-4

The empirical study showed that early between-school tracking (e.g. in Gymnasien, Realschulen etc. in Germany) increases educational inequalities more than comprehensive education (e.g. in Scandinavian countries). This was especially pronounced for social educational inequalities. At the same time, early tracking had no beneficial effects for mean achievement levels. The study applied a difference-in-differences approach and used international comparative data from 75 countries. Together with previous research, this indicates that educational reforms towards longer joint schooling could reduce educational inequalities without lowering mean achievement levels.

Further information


New journal article in Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability published

Gladushyna, O., Strietholt, R. & Steinmann, I. (2020). Disentangling general achievement levels and subject-specific strengths and weaknesses in mathematics, reading, and science. Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11092-020-09352-6

This study challenges findings of previous research that primary school students would only show subject-overarching differences in achievement, but not strengths or weaknesses in reading, mathematics, and/or science. When taking cross-subject level differences into account, this study indicates that some students indeed display subject-specific strengths and weaknesses. Like the previous studies, achievement data of fourth-graders from 35 countries from the joint PIRLS and TIMSS assessment in 2011 are analyzed. In contrast to previous research, the study uses factor mixture models.

Further information

Lernende Schule_Publ.Meldung_Lorenz

New booklet published in Die Lernende Schule

Lorenz, R. & Klinger, U. (Hrsg.). (2020). Unterricht digital. Lernende Schule. Heft 91.

For the journal “Lernende Schule”, which is aimed at school practice, PD Dr. Ramona Lorenz was co-editor of the newly published booklet "Teaching digital". It combines considerations on how teaching can be advanced digitally and what schools can learn from the corona pandemic. The booklet includes critically reflected starting points that offer teachers and school management options.

Further information


New journal article in Journal of Educational and Behavioral Statistics published

Trendtel, M. & Robitzsch, A. (2020). A Bayesian item response model for examining item position effects in complex survey data. Journal of Educational and Behavioral Statistics, online first, doi.org/10.3102/1076998620931016.

An innovative Item Response Model is presented which allows for more flexible analyses of item position effects (IPE) in educational assessments. Besides a theoretical discussion a Bayesian estimation procedure is developed and implemented. The superiority of this innovative model over conventional models that examine IPE in the context of educational assessments is demonstrated using data from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA).


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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








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