Main Research Fields
How well does the education system promote the competencies of pupils and students? How "fair" is the education system? Such classic questions about educational effectiveness represent another of the institute's six research foci. In several large, mostly longitudinal studies, such as TOSCA and TRAIN, researchers address the effectiveness of educational programs, educational institutions, and the educational system in promoting competencies and reducing social inequality in educational participation and competency acquisition. The scope of the studies ranges from primary education to lower and upper secondary education, vocational education and training, and the study of the transition from university to work.
How can we study individual and contextual effects on student learning and individual development in realistic educational contexts? How can we best capture and statistically model learning trajectories? How must intervention studies be designed to be meaningful?
Our research addresses these key methodological challenges in empirical educational research and educational psychology. We develop and evaluate statistical procedures for modeling multilevel structures and estimating causal effects in randomized field studies and nonexperimental research designs. We draw on existing data sets from the institute's projects as well as on mathematical-statistical approaches and extensive simulation studies. Our concrete research questions result from close cooperation with substantive researchers. With our work we thus build a bridge between basic statistical research and its application.
How can you instill appreciation for mathematics in students? The importance of students' motivation for their success and well-being at school (and thus also scientific research into the causes and consequences of high and low motivation) no longer needs to be justified in detail - many of the negative consequences of a lack of motivation and effort at school are all too obvious, far too often one hears about those affected among friends and acquaintances, and one or two school failures have found their way into world literature.
In its research, the Hector Institute for Empirical Educational Research focuses on two particularly central bundles of variables: ability and value beliefs in the context of achievement. The theoretical basis for this is, on the one hand, the so-called expectancy-value model of achievement motivation by Jacquelynne Eccles. According to this model, performance-oriented behavior is influenced by the expectation of success or the ability self-concept ("Can I do it?") and the subjective sense of value ("What's in it for me?") with respect to a task. On the other hand, our research builds on the Big-Fish-Little-Pond effect model as well as Herbert Marsh's Internal/External-Frame-of- Reference model, which identify important factors in the genesis of ability beliefs.
In the project Motivation in Mathematics Education (MoMa), we examine how motivation in mathematics can be promoted among 9th grade students.
Are there "the hardworking" and "the lazy" students? Every person possesses a variety of special characteristics that, when combined, make up his or her personality. For example, some children are quieter than others, some teachers are more structured, and some adults are more interested in art and culture than others. A person's personality influences how he or she experiences and behaves in different areas every day. In this respect, it is also central to our research projects to consider the personality of people, whether they are teachers or other professionals, parents, students, or pupils. However, people's attitudes and traits not only influence behavior in teaching-learning environments - for example, children who are well-organized have less difficulty completing their homework - but, conversely, these teaching-learning environments also influence the formation and development of personality: thus, one goal of educational institutions is to educate people, not only in terms of their knowledge and skills, but also in terms of many other attitudes and traits.
In our research on personality, we therefore address three questions in particular: What influence do contextual factors have on personality development? What is the importance of the interaction of personality with contextual factors in predicting behavior? What is the general structure of human personality?
Development of Potential and Giftedness
According to the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany, there is a need to improve the promotion of high-achieving and potentially high-achieving students. Scientists at the Hector Research Institute, in collaboration with the DIPF | Leibniz Institute for Research and Information in Education in Frankfurt/Main, are investigating how this can be achieved as early as elementary school in a series of studies.
Teaching Quality and Professional Competencies of Teachers
Accompany, guide or both - what does a teacher have to do? How much students learn in a school year and how their motivation and willingness to work hard develop depends very much on how the lessons in a class are designed, i.e. how well the teacher succeeds in ensuring high teaching quality. Researchers at our institute are addressing three questions in particular: How can the quality of instruction be validly measured? Which aspects of instructional design are crucial for instructional success? And what role does the professional competence of teachers play in teaching quality? In addition to scientific knowledge, the explicit aim is to be able to make a contribution to the training and further education of teachers.