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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

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


Study „Schule digital – der Länderindikator“ starts

Schule digital_der Länderindikator

04.05.2021 – On May 1, the study "Schule digital - der Länderindikator 2021" has started, funded by the Deutsche Telekom Foundation. This follows on from the 2015 to 2017 state indicators, which examined digitization in the German school system in a comparison of the German federal states. By describing the current state in central core areas of digitization at schools, enabling comparisons between federal states and presenting developments and trends over the years, valuable results will be generated.
What role do digital media play in the German school and education system? How do teachers assess the situation at their schools? The objective of the Länderindikator 2021 is to comprehensively examine the importance of learning with and via digital and to contribute to education monitoring in the context of digitization. Based on surveys of 1,200 lower secondary school teachers nationwide, analyses will be conducted that will enable comprehensive implications for further development in this context. Initial findings will be published starting in fall 2021.


IFS lecture series with Professor Paula McAvoy: Conceptualizing Discussion Within Civic Education


30.04.2021 – The second session of the IFS Lecture Series "Civic Literacy as a Topic Area in Empirical Educational Research" featured Prof. Paula McAvoy, PhD, from North Carolina State University. In her lecture on "Conceptualizing Discussion Within Civic Education," she talked about conceptualizing and measuring political discussion in the classroom and the challenges that come with it. For this, Paula McAvoy focused primarily on the questions of what makes a good discussion and what impact different formats of discussion have on students' political orientations. Many thanks for the interesting lecture and a lively discussion!


April 29: IFS lecture series with Professor Paula McAvoy


26.04.2021 – On April 29, beginning at 2:15 p.m., we welcome Professor Paula McAvoy, adjunct professor of social studies education at North Carolina State University, to the IFS Ring Lecture, "Civic Literacy as a Topic Area for Empirical Research in Education." Her lecture will address the topic, "Conceptualizing discussion within civic education". We are looking forward to a lively participation and discussion!


Opening of the IFS lecture series with Professor Thomas Goll


22.04.2021 – Professor Thomas Goll, Faculty of Social Sciences at TU Dortmund University, was a virtual guest at the start of this year's IFS Lecture Series "Civic Literacy as a Topic Area of Empirical Educational Research". In his lecture "Civic Literacy of Young Children: Conceptual Issues and Methodological Challenges" he spoke about the relevance of research on civic literacy in young children and discussed, among other things, the NAEP Civics Framework as a method of conceptualization. In addition, Thomas Goll provided insights into past as well as currently ongoing research projects on the topic, such as PKJK ("Political concepts of young children"). Thank you for the interesting lecture!


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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