The study “Tradition and innovation: Academic and psychosocial development in vocational track schools in the states of Baden-Württemberg and Sachsen” (TRAIN) examines the affordances and constraints of specific learning environments on a variety of outcomes. TRAIN is a multi-cohort longitudinal study which concentrates on the development of achievement, motivation, and interest, as well as emotional, social, and physical wellbeing during lower secondary level. It also examines students’ transition into vocational training and their professional career. The study’s longitudinal design allows for an analysis of the influence of heterogeneous teaching and learning conditions in the different school forms and helps to answer questions about the causal effect of learning environments on the personality development of young individuals.
The TRAIN study can be used to address questions such as:
- Which academic, family, and individual environments are most beneficial for students’ learning?
- How do different types of schools handle their students’ strengths and weaknesses?
- How well-prepared for entry into the job market are students when they graduate?
- How can teaching be successful across different socioeconomic environments?
Data collection began in 2008 with 60 lower secondary schools and 24 middle schools in the state of Baden-Württemberg in addition to 22 intermediate schools in the state of Saxony. In the first cohort, data collection took place each year between Grade 5 and Grade 8. A second cohort started in Grade 8 with a second measurement point in Grade 8. In 2016, the TRAIN study commenced a follow-up study. Former students from Cohort 1 were then approximately 19 years old, those from Cohort 2 were about 22. Most participants from both cohorts had by then completed their transition into vocational training or a professional career. The follow-up assessment thus aimed to compare educational paths and career development.