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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

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. Wilfried Bos


Nele McElvany presents „Empirical research on education and school development“ in Regional Advisory Council


21.01.2020 – On January 23, Nele McElvany will introduce the topic of „Empirical research on education and school development” and its impact for society to the regional Advisory Council of TU Dortmund University. The Regional Advisory Council conduces to the regional network between science, economy, politics and culture. It is established in the TU Dortmund University constitution, and consists of outstanding personalities from Dortmund and surrounds.


Out now: IFS Research Report 2017-2019


17.01.2020 – What developments and activities took place at the IFS in the last three years? The new IFS Research Report informs about the institutes’ key research areas, conferences, training of young scientists, knowledge transfer and internationalization. Besides the presentation of the research projects, you will find an overview of publications and contributions to conferences.


Introducing project COLD


15.01.2020 – Since April 2019, team Lauermann is cooperation partner in the joint project “Competencies of school teachers and adult educators in teaching German as a second language in linguistically diverse classrooms“ (short form: COLD). The German Institute for Adult Education - Leibniz Centre for Lifelong Learning (DIE) is the head of the interdisciplinary scientific consortium that conducts the project. Professor Fani Lauermann, PhD, and her team pay special attention to the following questions: How distinct are the diagnostic competencies of the teachers? Which cognitive and motivational determinants affect their work? How do teacher and pupils interact? We’re looking forward to interesting findings!


Call for Papers – 6th Dortmund Symposium on Empirical Educational Research

Grafik SYM

14.01.2020 – Under the heading “Optimization of educational processes – what works?” the IFS organizes the 6th Dortmund Symposium on Empirical Educational Research. Young researchers are invited to submit papers on the conference topic until March 31, 2020. Registration for the conference is now open.



Current research results


New journal article in Social Psychology of Education published

Gebauer, M.M., McElvany, N., Bos, W., Köller, O. & Schöber, C. (2019). Determinants of academic self-efficacy in different socialization contexts: investigating the relationship between students’ academic self-efficacy and its sources in different contexts. Social Psychology of Education, 22(6) doi:10.1007/s11218-019-09535-0

The present study examined the four sources of self-efficacy (mastery experience, vicarious experience, verbal and social persuasion, and physiological state) and how these predict academic self-efficacy over time in 7th-grade students. It simultaneously differentiated three different educationally relevant socialization contexts: family, peers, and school. Although existing measures to assess sources of academic self-efficacy have considered different socialization contexts, they have done this neither systematically nor for all sources. Results of structural equation models showed differential patterns of substantial impact on academic self-efficacy in each socialization context. Over time, the impact decreased when controlling for SES. Results deliver only partial support for Bandura’s theoretical approach and indicate the need to revise social-cognitive theory.



Globalised student achievement? A longitudinal and cross-country analysis of convergence in mathematics performance

Stefan Johansson & Rolf Strietholt (2019): Globalised student achievement? A longitudinal and cross-country analysis of convergence in mathematics performance, Comparative Education, DOI: 10.1080/03050068.2019.1657711

Critics of international assessments hypothesize that PISA, TIMSS and other comparative studies lead to a harmonization of education worldwide. In this article, this hypothesis is tested empirically. The results show cultural and regional differences in student performance profiles. Such differences are stable. Evidence for an international convergence of student performance could not be found. 


New journal article in Zeitschrift für Pädagogische Psychologie published

Igler, J., Ohle-Peters, A. & McElvany, N. (2019). Mit den Augen eines Grundschulkindes. Zeitschrift für Pädagogische Psychologie, 1–15. https://doi.org/10.1024/1010-0652/a000243

Students’ ratings are commonly used to assess instructional quality, but studies often show high variances within classes. The newly published study investigates this variance and analyses possible predictors such as students’ cognitive, motivational or emotional prerequisites.


Article published in School Effectiveness and School Improvement

Schmid, C., Trendtel, M., Bruneforth, M., & Hartig, J. (2019). Effectiveness of a governmental action to improve Austrian primary schools – results of multilevel analyses based on repeated cycles of educational standards assessments. School Effectiveness and School Improvement. doi.org/10.1080/09243453.2019.1620294

In 2005, the Austrian government committed all schools to develop school policies supporting the learning of their students. The purpose of the present article is to find evidence for the effectiveness of this governmental action. Analyses are based on data collected by the educational standard assessments including 267 primary schools (2010). Results show that the implementation of schools’ support strategies significantly moderated the increase in mathematical achievement between 2010 and 2013, but not in reading achievement between 2010 and 2015.


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.

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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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