All UDE educational research areas are taken into account at the IZfB: Research on the levels of the educational system and institutions, on subject-specific and interdisciplinary teaching-learning processes as well as extracurricular educational and socialisation processes, taking into account societal, historically-grown framework conditions (e.g. with regard to the UDE profile characteristic of educational justice) as well as normative educational questions. The entire educational process is taken into account – elementary, school, vocational and university education, training and further training as well as extracurricular youth and adult education.

The research activities of the IZfB members as well as newly emerging topics enable the identification of the following research foci at the IZfB:

Company- and school-based vocational training

Education in the digital world

Education and age: Institutions and their actors

Learning in natural sciences, computer science and technology

Professionalism in pedagogical fields of action

School and teaching development

Civil society education

These are already existing strong groups as well as subject areas that are specifically strengthened by the activities of the IZfB.

With the support of the IZfB, numerous projects have been acquired or extended. In the current DFG Funding Atlas, the University of Duisburg-Essen ranks second in a nationwide comparison of the amount of third-party funding approved in the educational sciences field, which shows that this proven research focus of the UDE is staffed by scientists whose high-quality research enables them to prevail even in highly competitive procedures – such as the awarding of DFG funding.

The research of the DFG Research Unit “Academic Learning and Study Success in the Entry Phase of Science and Technology Degree Programmes” (ALSTER 2015–2017, representatives: Profs. Elke Sumfleth, Detlev Leutner) in which the causes for the, by international standards, high dropout rates in the natural and engineering sciences were investigated from various angles in educational science, psychology and teaching methodologies, has since 2018 been continued and its content expanded in a research association of five DFG-funded projects. For example, based on the results of previous years, courses are developed and tested for their effectiveness in increasing study success as well as being scientifically evaluated (representatives: Profs. Maik Walpuski, Detlev Leutner).

Very important for the success of the "Education in the Digital World Research Platform – ForBilD" was the successful acquisition of the joint management of the BMBF-funded meta-project (MP) “Digitalisation in the Education Sector” by Prof. Michael Kerres. In cooperation with the Leibniz-Institut für Wissensmedien (IWM), the German Institute for Adult Education – Leibniz Centre for Lifelong Learning (DIE), and the Leibniz Institute for Research and Information in Education (DIPF) in Frankfurt, the MP has to date supported the approximately 50 projects of the “Digitalisation in Education” funding line. In particular, design-oriented educational research and its knowledge communication are being developed, which in turn will contribute equally to the development of theory and knowledge within the science as well as to problem-solving in the fields of educational practice and policy. 2018 saw the start of the joint project “Digital Educational Architectures. Open learning resources in distributed learning infrastructures”. The common goal with project partners in the Leibniz Institute for Research and Information in Education (DIPF), the Leibniz Information Centre for Economics (ZBW) in Kiel and the University of Oldenburg is the development of an educational architecture based on the networking of universities and the cooperation of state, public and private actors.

Two other BMBF network projects are focusing their research on the vocational orientation and qualification of young people with and without disabilities. Prof. Thomas Bienengräber and Prof. Thomas Retzmann are working on the project “Vocational orientation in shared learning in secondary schools – a challenge for educational staff” (BEaGLE) together with their cooperation partners at the University of Wuppertal. In the project Inclusive Virtual Training Firm – Vocational training for participation in the general labour Market in the occupational field of business and administration (IvÜFA) led by Thomas Retzmann, an inclusive virtual training firm is being designed in cooperation with BfZ-Essen, which is being tested and scientifically evaluated by several users.

As part of the Federal Government-Länder programme “Quality Offensive for Teacher Training”, the UDE is supporting the expansion of its training focus “Dealing with heterogeneity in schools” with “Professionalisation for diversity” (ProViel). The second funding phase with 26 sub-projects started in 2019. Numerous members of the IZfB are both involved in the sub-projects and responsible for the coordination of one of the three fields of action “Diversity & Inclusion, SkillsLabs | New Learning Spaces and Quality Development and Assurance” as well as the working group “Digitalisation in Teacher Training”.

In cooperation with Prof. Kathrin Racherbäumer (University of Siegen), Prof. Isabell van Ackeren is providing scientific support to the “NRW talent schools”. In this school trial, the NRW state government is strengthening selected schools in districts with major social challenges by providing special teaching concepts, additional resources and support for school development with the aim of achieving greater educational equity.