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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.

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Research Area

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

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

The working group examines opportunities and challenges relating to cultural diversity in schools. One major focus is on the individual learning conditions of children and adolescents with an immigrant background for their school adaptation. We also study how the school context affects students' school adaptation.

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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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Former research area

Educational Research and Quality Assurance

Team Prof. Dr. Wilfried Bos


IFS lecture series with Professor Hermann Josef Abs: Relation of political knowledge and different political mindsets

IFS-lecture series

29.05.2020 – This week, the IFS lecture series “Political and civic education” featured Professor Dr. Hermann Josef Abs from the University of Duisburg-Essen. During his presentation, Professor Abs, who is also chairman of the scientific advisory board of the Federal Agency for Civic Education, provided interesting insights on results of the International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS), 2016. He put special emphasis on the relation between political knowledge and different political mindsets. Thank you for this informative lecture!


Rahim Schaufelberger completes promotion

Rahim Schaufelberger_web

28.05.2020 – The IFS congratulates Rahim Schaufelberger, research fellow in the working group of Professor McElvany and graduate student of retired Professor Wilfried Bos, on his successful disputation today. He earns his doctorate in educational science. In his dissertation, he analyzed “Post-secondary educational choices and the effects of social background: An analysis with NEPS-context”.


IFS publishes selected contributions of cancelled conferences in spring 2020


19.05.2020 – Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, conferences like the DGfE in Cologne, the GEBF in Potsdam or the AERA in San Francisco had to be cancelled. As a consequence, the IFS, like many others, could not present or discuss its recent research results. Therefore, we are quite pleased to present some selected contributions that had been accepted at the conferences on our website. We wish you a good read.


IFS lecture series with Professor Joel Westheimer: Can education changer our world?


15.05.2020 – Professor Dr. Joel Westheimer from the University of Ottawa hold the third guest lecture as part the IFS lecture series “Political and civic education”. He tackled the question “Can education change our world? Civic education in a time of global crises” and he put special emphasis on the relevance of schools of bringing up young people to become “good” citizens. He addressed the issue of how to best create lessons. As an example, he recommended to encourage pupils in all subjects to inquire and to think critically. Thank you very much for the interesting presentation and the lively discussion!


Current research results


New publisher’s edition Monitoring Student Achievement in the 21st Century - European Policy Perspectives and Assessment Strategies published by Springer

Harju-Luukkainen, H., McElvany, N. & Stang, J. (Eds.). (2020). Monitoring Student Achievement in the 21st Century - European Policy Perspectives and Assessment Strategies. Cham, Switzerland: Springer.
Educational assessment is of high importance. Therefore, the book examines its importance and gives a broad cross-national perspective on educational assessment in Europe. It draws together leading student assessment academics from across Europe exploring student monitoring policies and practices in a range of countries across 22 chapters.



New journal article in Zeitschrift für Pädagogische Psychologie published

Stang, J. & McElvany, N. (2020). Unterschiede in der Wahrnehmung der Qualität des Deutschunterrichts zwischen Grundschülerinnen und Grundschülern. Zeitschrift für Pädagogische Psychologie. https://doi.org/10.1024/1010-0652/a000275

Students' perceptions of teaching quality vary within classrooms. Several student characteristics are discussed as influencing factors. Furthermore, it is known that student ratings of instructional quality are predictive for their school success. The article tackles the question, whether there are differences between boys and girls in their perception of instructional quality in German classes and whether the assumed relations between gender and perception of instructional quality exist even under control of individual reading literacy.


New journal article in Lernen und Lernstörungen published

Viesel-Nordmeyer, N., Bos, W., & Ritterfeld, U. (2020). Die Rolle von Sprache und Arbeitsgedächtnis für die Entwicklung mathematischen Lernens vom Vorschul- bis ins Grundschulalter: Längsschnittliche und querschnittliche Pfadanalysen von Daten des Nationalen Bildungspanels (NEPS). Lernen und Lernstörungen, 2. doi: 10.1024/2235-0977/a000291

Based on data from the German National Educational Panel Study (NEPS) the study investigated the effects of linguistic competences and working memory (phonological loop, central executive) on mathematical competence development between pre- and primary school age (4 – 7 years). In addition to a long-term influence of vocabulary and grammar on mathematical learning, an age-dependent participation of individual working memory components was shown. Direct influences on the mathematical competences at preschool age were taken by central executive, in 1st grade by phonological loop. Indirectly, phonological loop influences were mediated on preschool mathematical competences via linguistic precursors (phonological awareness, early letter knowledge). Pronounced grammar skills at pre-school age positively effect the subsequent performances of both, the phonological loop and the executive control.



New journal article in Social Psychology of Education published

Gebauer, M.M., McElvany, N., Bos, W., Köller, O. & Schöber, C. (2019). Determinants of academic self-efficacy in different socialization contexts: investigating the relationship between students’ academic self-efficacy and its sources in different contexts. Social Psychology of Education, 22(6) doi:10.1007/s11218-019-09535-0

The present study examined the four sources of self-efficacy (mastery experience, vicarious experience, verbal and social persuasion, and physiological state) and how these predict academic self-efficacy over time in 7th-grade students. It simultaneously differentiated three different educationally relevant socialization contexts: family, peers, and school. Although existing measures to assess sources of academic self-efficacy have considered different socialization contexts, they have done this neither systematically nor for all sources. Results of structural equation models showed differential patterns of substantial impact on academic self-efficacy in each socialization context. Over time, the impact decreased when controlling for SES. Results deliver only partial support for Bandura’s theoretical approach and indicate the need to revise social-cognitive theory.



New article in Journal of Educational Psychology published

Lauermann, F., Meißner, A., & Steinmayr, R. (2019). Relative importance of intelligence and ability self-concept in predicting test performance and school grades in the math and language arts domains. Journal of Educational Psychology. (Online first publication). doi: 10.1037/edu0000377

Students’ intelligence and self-concept of ability are critical predictors of school achievement. However, studies focusing on the relative importance of both achievement predictors have produced mixed results. To clarify these inconsistencies, the present study investigated whether the relative predictive power of students’ intelligence and ability self-concept differs depending on the achievement indicator at hand (standardized test performance vs. school grades) and the achievement domain (math vs. language arts).


New journal article in Comparative Education published

Stefan Johansson & Rolf Strietholt (2019): Globalised student achievement? A longitudinal and cross-country analysis of convergence in mathematics performance, Comparative Education, DOI: 10.1080/03050068.2019.1657711

Critics of international assessments hypothesize that PISA, TIMSS and other comparative studies lead to a harmonization of education worldwide. In this article, this hypothesis is tested empirically. The results show cultural and regional differences in student performance profiles. Such differences are stable. Evidence for an international convergence of student performance could not be found. 


New journal article in Zeitschrift für Pädagogische Psychologie published

Igler, J., Ohle-Peters, A. & McElvany, N. (2019). Mit den Augen eines Grundschulkindes. Zeitschrift für Pädagogische Psychologie, 1–15. https://doi.org/10.1024/1010-0652/a000243

Students’ ratings are commonly used to assess instructional quality, but studies often show high variances within classes. The newly published study investigates this variance and analyses possible predictors such as students’ cognitive, motivational or emotional prerequisites.

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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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