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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 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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Former research area

Educational Research and Quality Assurance

Team Prof. Dr. Heinz Wilfried Bos


5. Dortmund Symposium: discussion on systemic and individual factors contributing to educational (in)equity

5.Dortmund Symposium

12.07.2019 – To the five-year anniversary of Dortmund Symposium on Empirical Educational Research, leading researchers in Europe discussed which individual and systemic advantages and disadvantages affect the educational success of pupils. The factors range from the socioeconomic environment or migration background to the choice of school, missing individualization during the lessons and transition to secondary school. The experts agreed that there is still a lot of research to do for a better understanding of the mechanism underlying the educational success. Thank you for your contributions and the inspiring discussions!


Meeting of the national PIRLS 2021 consortium - Germany


09.07.2019 – The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) is conducted in 2021. Nevertheless, preparation starts already. Therefore, Professor Nele McElvany has invited the national PIRLS consortium with Professor Anita Schilcher (Universität Regensburg), Professor Andreas Frey (Goethe University Frankfurt), Professor Frank Goldhammer (Leibniz Institute for Research and Information in Education) and Professor Tobias Stubbe (University of Göttingen) in order to adjust the background questionnaire for pupils, teachers and school directors. This survey is crucial to the study as it ascertains important information about the qualification of reading literacy of primary school children.


5. Dortmund Symposium on Empirical Educational Research: Against the Odds - (In)Equity in Education and Educational Systems

Dortmund Symposium

08.07.2019 – Educational success against the odds? On occasion of the Fifth Dortmund Symposium on Empirical Educational Research, leading researchers in Europe will discuss which individual and systemic advantages and disadvantages affect the educational success of each and everyone. The symposium takes place on July 11, 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 pm in the building Campus Treff at TU Dortmund University (Vogelpothsweg 120). It will be held in English. On July 10, young researchers who are engaged in research on systemic, social, and individual conditions of educational (in)equity will present and discuss their work in the context of the Fifth Dortmund Symposium on Empirical Educational Research from 3 p.m.


Closing of IFS lecture series with Professor Birgit Leyendecker


05.07.2019 – At the close of the IFS lecture series “Empirical Educational Research in the Ruhr Metropolitan Area” Professor Dr. Birgit Leyendecker, Ruhr University Bochum, presented results of the Seika project. It addresses language acquisition and educational processes in daycare centers’ everyday life. Thank you very much!


Current research results


Article in Zeitschrift für Pädagogik

Steinmann, I. & Strietholt, R. (2019). Effekte nachmittäglicher Bildungsangebote auf sprachliche Kompetenzentwicklungen. Zeitschrift für Pädagogik, 65(2), 285–306. https://doi.org/10.3262/ZP1902285

In the newly published article, the effects of learning-promoting afternoon programs on language-related achievement and educational inequality measures are examined longitudinally on the basis of ninth-graders. The results provide no evidence that in 2003, it could be assumed that afternoon activities would influence the level of academic achievement or social educational inequalities in German or English.


Article in Learning and Individual Differences

Schwabe, F., Korthals, R., Schils, T. (2019) Positive social relationships with peers and teachers as moderators of the Big-Fish-Little-Pond Effect. Learning and Individual Differences. doi 10.1016/j.lindif.2018.12.006

Students' academic self-concepts (ASCs) are largely formed relative to the ability of their reference group. The Big-Fish-Little-Pond Effect (BFLPE), according to which equally able students have lower ASCs in high-achieving classrooms than in low-achieving ones, is extremely robust. Social relationships are known to be important for self-perception. This study aims at analyzing social relationships as potential moderators of the BFLPE, focusing on two core partners in classrooms: peers and teachers.


Article in School Effectiveness and School Improvement was published

Steinmann, I., Strietholt, R. & Caro, D. (2018). Participation in Extracurricular Activities and Student Achievement: Evidence from German All-Day Schools. School Effectiveness and School Improvement. doi 10.1080/09243453.2018.1540435

The present study investigates the effects of participation in aca-demic extracurricular activities on student achievement in mathe-matics and reading in the course of secondary schooling. We use 2 samples of nonmandatory all-day schools that are part of the National Educational Panel Study (NEPS): N = 1,131 fifth graders at 43 schools were followed until Grade 7 and N = 1,545 seventh graders at 64 schools until Grade 9. We compare students partici-pating in all-day schools’ extracurricular activities homework sup-port, remedial education, and subject-specific programs to nonparticipating students. After controlling for prior achievement and further student background variables as well as estimating school fixed effects, we find no effects of participation in extra-curricular activities on student achievement for both samples and both outcomes. The study contributes to the evidence base on the effects of extracurricular activities. We discuss the findings in light of the international discourse on effective extracurricular activities.


Article in Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaften was published

Sander, A., Ohle-Peters, A., Hardy, I. & McElvany, N. (2018). Die Effektivität schriftlicher und kombiniert auditiv-schriftlicher Wortschatzfördermaßnahmen bei Kindern mit nichtdeutscher Herkunftssprache. Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaft, 21(5), 951–971. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11618-018-0815-1

The article investigates the potential of implicit language promotion, presented in written and combined auditory-written formats. Three experimental groups of 4th graders in elementary schools have been compared. The first group read the intervention texts two times in German, second group read texts in Turkish and afterwards in German and third group listened to texts in Turkish first and read them in German afterwards. Results do not support advantages for the combined auditory-written form including the heritage language.

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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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