Empirical Educational Research

Managing Director: Dr. Silke Klos
Managing Director: Dr. Silke Klos

With the support of the Centre for Empirical Educational Research, numerous applications in empirical educational research have been submitted to and approved by the DFG and BMBF during the last two years. Existing coordinated research programmes at the University of Duisburg-Essen have also received approval to continue and intensify their work.
The "Teaching and Learning of Science" Research Group (nwu-essen) has been funded since 2004 by the German Research Foundation (DFG); it and the associated Graduate School of the same name have been granted the third phase of DFG funding, which extends the Research Group for two years (2009-2011) and the Graduate School for three years (2009-2012) respectively. The members of the research group represent different disciplines, namely Biology Education, Physics Education, Chemistry Education and Primary Level Science Education; their interdisciplinary work is supplemented by collaboration with researchers from Instructional Psychology and Educational Science. Together with some 40 doctoral and several postdoctoral researchers, they investigate current topics relating to science education in schools. The beginning of the third phase of funding also marked the integration of the university's work on German as a teaching subject. A project entitled "Effects of contexts in large-scale-items for measuring competences in physics" was initiated in conjunction with the Physics Education team. This project is concerned with the characteristics of contexts that are often used in learning and test assignments. The aim is to identify difficulty-generating features in order to allow better operationalisation of contexts for large-scale assessment studies.
During the last two years, the nwu-essen has gained the support of many schools and teachers to work on the projects. Cooperation between universities and schools is the only way to ensure that the basis of teaching and learning can be researched and improved long term.
In addition to the nwu-essen, the organisers of the DFG Priority Programme "Models of competencies for the assessment of individual learning outcomes and the evaluation of educational processes" also received support for their funding renewal proposal. This programme includes 23 projects nationwide which address questions on four main themes:
How can competencies be modelled appropriately and according to the requirements of specific situations?
How can theoretical competency models be represented by psychometric models to guarantee a differential assessment of the competence constructs?
How can theoretical competency models and connected psychometric models be mapped in concrete empirical measurements?
What kind of information gained from competency measurements can be used by individuals in educational practice?
Researchers from Chemistry Education, Physics Education and Instructional Psychology at the University of Duisburg-Essen are participating in the Priority Programme with their own projects.
ZeB members additionally applied and received approval for four projects within the BMBF's "Empirical Research in Education" programme:
The "Professional Knowledge in Science" project is working on developing a valid model for the three dimensions of professional knowledge (knowledge in the subject, educational knowledge in the subject, pedagogical knowledge) of science teachers and devising and evaluating suitable test instruments for recording professional knowledge according to the model.
The "Knowledge in Educational Science and the Acquirement of Professional Competences in Teacher Education" project is being conducted in cooperation with the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin and the University of Münster. Its aim is to describe and evaluate teacher training in North Rhine-Westphalia, which is currently undergoing far-reaching reform, with a view to optimising the educational science elements of the study curriculum. The inaugural conference for the project took place at the University of Duisburg-Essen in November 2009 and was organised by the Centre for Empirical Educational Research.
"Acquisition of Numeracy and Arithmetics in Children: The Neural Basis of Individual Performance Differences and of Training Effects" is a project which aims to validate a model for the development of early mathematical competence in elementary and primary education and, in collaboration with the RWTH Aachen, to research the deficit correlates of competency development.
The "Development of the Mathematical Competency Development and the Research Influencing Factors" project sets out to record the development of children with different mathematical competencies at preschool and during the first three years of primary school.
In the last few years, the Faculty of Humanities has been integrated alongside the natural sciences and educational sciences in the ZeB with a DFG-funded project in Catholic Theology. "Research on Variants of Correlative Didactics in Religious Education" deals with the establishment of a meaningful relationship between religious traditions and life experiences in religious education. Although this is considered to be a central aim of religious education in schools, no empirical findings regarding the different methods used in school lessons are available to date. The projects undertaken at the ZeB employ different methods of data collection. In addition to video recordings of school lessons and teacher and student surveys based on questionnaires and interviews, performance tests and interventions are also used. Some of the projects are conducted in cooperation with external institutions (for example the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin) or foundations (for example the Schering Foundation in Berlin).
Beyond support with research project applications, the ZeB also supports the training of graduate students in empirical educational research at the University of Duisburg-Essen. The ZeB has organised and coordinated international summer and winter schools (see Collaboration and International Contacts) and arranged several national and international workshops directed by eminent researchers. Prof. Oliver Walter, for example, conducted a workshop entitled "Workshop on methods: Methods of scaling in complex test designs", while Prof. Bill Boune presented a "How to: A Guide to Rasch Analysis" workshop during a research visit to the University of Duisburg-Essen organised by the ZeB. The graduate students were able to benefit from the guest researcher's expertise in numerous discussions during his stay.