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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


New structure of the faculties – developing profile of education and psychology


01.04.2020 – While strengthening social sciences at TU Dortmund University, the new faculty structure is supposed to enhance educational science and psychology as well and to increase the national and international visibility. Within the scope of the new structure with its five institutes, the IFS will continue to shape the research profile significantly with its numerous research projects and international comparison studies of education. The new faculty development plan will be launched together with the other institutes. We wish those institutes that move to the new social science faculty a good start!


NEPS meeting


30.03.2020 – Two important days for the National Educational Panel Study (NEPS) in Germany: The scientific heads of the educational stages in the life course, including Nele McElvany as head of stage 4, amnd of the NEPS pillars meet and discuss the contents of the competence tests and of the questionnaires of the upcoming surveys, affecting grade 5 to 8. Certain aspects of the NEPS study plan will be determined, thus having an impact on the contents and processes during the following four to five years and thus also influencing the research work at the IFS.


IFS talks to WELT: Remote learning in times of Corona


27.03.2020 – The Corona virus influences all areas of life, even education. While the situation may offer new possibilities to develop digital classes, it may also intensify educational injustice in Germany. Nele McElvany talked about that with the newspaper WELT. She addressed, amongst others, how digital teaching and learning may look like in order to offer students who need more instruction, who do not have family support or who simply do not have the equipment, the same chances as others.


Out now: Latest issue of the Journal for Educational Research Online


25.03.2020 – Multiprofessional collaboration at all-day schools and co-determination of students under consideration of individual and school context characteristics are just two topics in the latest issue of the Journal for Educational Online Research (jero). The open access journal is an interdisciplinary forum for research on education and is released twice a year. We wish you a good read!


Current research results


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.


Article published in School Effectiveness and School Improvement

Schmid, C., Trendtel, M., Bruneforth, M., & Hartig, J. (2019). Effectiveness of a governmental action to improve Austrian primary schools – results of multilevel analyses based on repeated cycles of educational standards assessments. School Effectiveness and School Improvement. doi.org/10.1080/09243453.2019.1620294

In 2005, the Austrian government committed all schools to develop school policies supporting the learning of their students. The purpose of the present article is to find evidence for the effectiveness of this governmental action. Analyses are based on data collected by the educational standard assessments including 267 primary schools (2010). Results show that the implementation of schools’ support strategies significantly moderated the increase in mathematical achievement between 2010 and 2013, but not in reading achievement between 2010 and 2015.

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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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