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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. 


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.


Shaping our future together: Education in Germany and Kazakhstan


23.03.2017 – On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of German-Kazakh diplomatic relations, Dr. Annika Ohle visited the educational conference "Together to shape our future: education in Germany and Kazakhstan" in Astana, Kazakhstan. In addition to a presentation on "Situation and challenges in the German school system" intensive exchange supported the bilateral relations successfully.


New edited volume on integration of refugee minors


22.03.2017 – The edited volume Settling in the Schools – Chances and Challenges during the Integration Process of Refugee Minors presents a collection of contributions from scientists and practitioners on the integration of refugee minors in the German school system, dealing with diverse topics such as integration in the classroom, fostering of language acquisition and support for traumatized children. In addition, experts from education administration, politics, research and practice give their assessment of the current situation.


IFS at the 5th GEBF - meeting


20.03.2017 – As part of the fifth meeting of the Society for Empirical Educational Research in Heidelberg March, 12th-15th 2017, the IFS was strongly represented. Researchers from all research areas of the IFS were successfully involved through individual contributions and various symposia under the overall theme of the conference "Mastering societal challenges through education".


Continuation and expansion of international cooperation with CRESST in the US


10.03.2017 – In a third stay by Professor McElvany as Visiting Researcher at the University of California's National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards and Student Testing (CRESST) in Los Angeles, scientific exchange and cooperation between researchers from both institutions were further strengthened. As a result, a research project „Instruction in diverse classrooms: Teacher education and assessment through complex simulations“, is launched at IFS, which designs a simulation-based online tool for teacher training and examines its effectiveness.

UCLA - National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards and Student Testing (CRESST):


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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