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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


Nele McElvany talks to Spiegel


15.06.2021 – Germany-wide, corona-induced school closures and the alternation between attendance and distance phases have determined the school learning of millions of children and young people since March 2020. Nele McElvany discussed in an interview with Der Spiegel the spotlight that this full brake on regular schooling has cast on the system, the developments that have taken place, and the opportunities for the future.


IFS Virtual Keynote Series with positive resonance


11.06.2021 – In the second IFS Virtual Keynote Series on Education in the Digital World, three international renowned and outstanding experts gave enlightening keynotes. Within the first keynote, Prof. Daniel Willingham, PhD (University of Virginia), focused on how digital technologies changed reading. Within his talk, he revealed that the impact on teaching of reading, reading habits, and reading comprehension was more modest than one may anticipate. The second keynote by Asst. Prof. Matt Bernacki, PhD (University of North Carolina) gave an in-depth view on how student data can be used to personalize, adapt, support, and improve learning. Besides advantages, he also focused for example on ethical aspects of personalized learning. Finally yet importantly, Prof. Barry Fishman, PhD (University of Michigan) talked about his research on grading and assessment. Within his keynote, he criticized dominant grading approaches, instead advocating for gameful learning and highlighting several advantages. Thank you once again very much for the great and interesting lectures as well as the lively and fruitful discussions afterwards!


Matthias Trendtel talks at Stanford University


09.06.2021 – As part of the Mini-Conference on "Item Position Effects" at the Stanford Graduate School of Education, Matthias Trendtel will give a talk on "A Bayesian Item Response Model for Examining Item Position Effects in Complex Survey Data," based on the article of the same name published in the Journal of Educational and Behavioral Statistics. The presentation, like all conference talks, is available in advance on YouTube and will be presented and discussed within a Zoom conference on June 15. For this conference, the Stanford Graduate School of Education has invited an international group of experts in the field of psychometrics on the topic of item posture effects.


IFS presents latest research results at GPJE conference


09.06.2021 – From June 10 to 12, the annual conference of the Gesellschaft für Politikdidaktik und politische Jugend- und Erwachsenenbildung (GPJE) (Society for Civic Education Didactics and Civic Youth and Adult Education), which is being held virtually this year, will take place on the conference topic "Political Education in the Superdiverse Society". IFS will also be present and will present first results from the study on the development of political and social competence in adolescence (EPKO) conducted within the NEPS. We are looking forward to many interesting presentations and exciting discussions!


Current research results

Reading Research Quarterly

New journal article in Reading Research Quarterly published

Lepper, C., Stang, J. & McElvany, N. (2021). Gender Differences in Text-Based Interest: Text Characteristics as Underlying Variables. Reading Research Quarterly. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1002/rrq.420

The study investigates to what extent different text characteristics (text genre, gender-typed topic, gender of the main characters) and students’ gender are systematically related to elementary students’ text-based interest. Using experimentally varied texts, significant differences in students’ text-based interests were found depending on the text genre and topic of the text. Moreover, gender disparities based on the text topic and protagonists’ gender were significant. The results underscore the relevance of text- and person-related characteristics for elementary students’ interest in texts.


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

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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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