The aim of the research project “Adaptivity and Quality of Teaching in Individualized Classes” (Ada*Q) is to generate scientific and practical knowledge on the productive use of heterogeneity in class together with the award-winning schools of the German School Award of the Robert Bosch Foundation.

Most interesting for the research interest is the adaptivity of teaching. In other words, it is to be examined to what extent teaching concepts of differentiation and individualization can help to create the best possible fitting between teaching offers and the individual learning requirements of pupils. Therefor the importance of teaching quality will also be examined.

Acquisiton of Knowledge in Geometry

How do basic competencies in geometry develop?

The project of the Leibniz Center of Excellence for Early Childhood Education focused on the promotion of children’s basic geometry competencies in preschool and the first years of school. The focus was on recognition and categorization of geometric figures as well as spatial navigation. The overarching question was how these basic geometry competencies can be enhanced and which role linguistic interactions play in this process. The project also seeked to identify whether promoting geometry competencies has an effect on processing of quantities and numbers or on arithmetic skills.

Early Childhood Science Education

How do early science skills develop?

Observing phenomena, forming hypotheses, comparing, measuring, and testing hypotheses – so far, there is very little knowledge of how such basic science skills (inquiry skills and practices) effect subsequent learning development. The aim of the project of the Leibniz Center of Excellence for Early Childhood Education was to investigate the extent to which the promotion of these competencies has an impact on the acquisition of new knowledge. The study compared different interventions in which the instructional support for inquiry skills was systematically varied. The overarching question was to what extent available inquiry skills and practices support the development of conceptual knowledge, e.g., in the domains of magnetism, swimming and sinking or aggregate states.

Development Contexts

What are the relationships between general cognitive abilities and domain-specific competences?

The project of the Leibniz Center of Excellence for Early Childhood Education examined early roots of competence development in cooperation with the University of Bamberg. Specifically, we analyzed links between general cognitive abilities (information processing skills, executive functions) and domain-specific competency development (linguistic, mathematical competencies) in early childhood. The role of language and language development received special attention. This was of particular importance for fostering development as language is both an important means of instruction and communication as well as a central means of mental representation. The project focused on two main topics which are analyzed using existing longitudinal data (NEPS, BiKS). On the one hand, we examined the influence of early skills at the ages of 7 and 16 months on later competency development in preschool. The second focus was on the relationship between linguistic, cognitive, mathematical and early science skills in the transition from preschool to primary school.


For actively participating in school, daily life or at work excellent German language skills are needed. While learning a new languague teachers have a key role in teaching German as a second language. The project COLD (Competencies of school teachers and adult educators in teaching German as a second language in linguistically diverse classrooms) focuses on the following questions:

  • What skills and knowledge do teachers have?
  • How do they structure their lessons?
  • Are there any differences between school teachers and adult educators?

The project is a cooperation between DIE and the MI and is led by the DIE.

From April 2019 until March 2022 researchers will focus on professional competencies of school teachers and adult educators in teaching German as a second language in linguistically heterogeneous groups. The project adresses the special needs in teaching and didactics which occured through the immigration of children, teenagers and adults. The surveys take place in real teaching situations in preparatory classes and integration courses.

The interdisciplinary project team includes experts in adult education, subject-related didactics German/German as a second language, empirical educational research, linguistics, computer lingustics, and psychology. The project is mainly performed by PhD students so that a special focus on promoting young researches is set.


The cooperation project between the Institute for Educational Quality (IQB) Improvement, the Leibniz-Institute for Educational Trajectories (LIfBi) and the University of Wuppertal focus on three main questions:

  • How and in which ways is inclusive education in the lower Secondary schools in Germany implemented?
  • Which conditions lead to a successful individual development of students with special needs in an inclusive setting? And thereby which effects for students without special needs can be recorded?
  • How are classroom practices and processes adapted and differentiated for students with and without special needs?

One main reference of the project is the UN-Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), where conditions and claims for inclusive education have been anchored. Furthermore the projects will be monitored by members of the civil society e. g. decision-makers and practitioners. In the first phase of this project, school principals of Secondary Schools in Germany will be surveyed online. In a second step schools will be selected based on the first survey and track students of these schools in a longitudinal study. The research focuses hereby on achievement tests and questionnaires for students, questionnaires for teachers, principals, and also a telephone survey with the parents. In a third study we collect data about inclusive education practices by asking the teachers to document their teaching habits and routines in a diary.


Education through Language and Writing (Bildung durch Sprache und Schrift, BiSS) was a research and development program, in which groups of child day care centres and schools worked together closely in order to exchange their experiences and to implement coordinated language education measures.

In this program, the language education of children and youths was scientifically assessed together with respective measures introduced by the federal states to promote language, reading skills, and their diagnosis, which were evaluated and further refined regarding their effectiveness and efficiency. In addition, the program supported the necessary further education and continuing qualification of child care personnel and teachers.

The MI together with the research domain Intercultural Learning at the University of CologneDIPF and the Humboldt-University in Berlin in cooperation with the IQB as responsible consortium took on the scientific organisation and overall coordination of the program.

The tasks of the DIPF within the consortium included consultancy with regard to content in elementary education, setting up an information and communication platform as well as management and further development of toolboxes: therein, information on the diagnostic instruments and supportive measures (tools) used was made available to the participating groups on a central server. The information and communication platform went online in 2014.

At the Mercator Institute under the direction of Prof. Dr. Hans-Joachim Roth and Prof. Dr. Michael Becker-Mrotzek, blended learning courses were developed for the sustainable qualification of the participating specialists and teachers in the states.


The multimedia textbook (MBook) developed by Waltraud Schreiber’s research group was an interactive and customizable study- and workbook for a classroom setting which reveals its own principles of construction and was prototypically developed for history lessons. Technically and didactically this browser-based and hyperactive book was a new development for competence-based teaching.

The main potential of the MBook lied in the possibility of its use both as a promotional tool as well as a research instrument. The project scientifically examined the capability of the multimedia textbook.

The project examined whether and how the instructional and extra-curricular utilization data can be applied towards the clarification of skills development.

Final report (in German).


In what way are teacher education students different from other students with regards to their interests, occupational orientation, and previous educational biographies? To what extent are teacher education students equipped with domain-specific basic competencies such as, for example, reading competence as well as mathematical competence and scientific literacy? And how are study progress and success connected to the level of these competencies? How does the perceived quality of the preparatory service (“Referendariat”) affect the professional career? And does the professional self-concept change during the course of this second training period?

With the continuation of an additional sample of teacher education students from the NEPS Starting Cohort 5 and by adding survey content specific to the teaching profession to this investigation it will be possible to answer these and similar research questions. Due to its longitudinal approach following teacher education students from the beginning of their studies to their professional lives and also taking into account their life course prior to studying, the project will considerably improve the data pool regarding teacher education. The collected database will be made available as an infrastructure service to the national and international research community.

Learning Types

Homework is a central component of school education and is utilized with the intention to raise students’ performance. Nevertheless, in regards to the effect of the assignment and completion of homework there is a considerable gap between the intended educational relevance and its empirical validation.

The project addressed this gap of empirical research and explored this subject matter in four interrelated partial studies which reanalyzed longitudinally recorded data of almost 2000 eight-graders with the help of latent-profile-models.