Developmental Psychology

Feeling Thinking Talking in Primary School (FTT-P)

Advanced Training for Continuous Content-Oriented Language Support for Teachers and Educators

Academic language skills are important for a successful school career. However, many children in primary school have less developed language skills. This particularly affects children learning German as a second language. Teachers and other educational professionals can use language support strategies (LSL).  The specific elements that contribute to the success of language support strategies in primary school and how the support should be implemented in the classroom and in everyday life are largely unexplored. This is where the collaborative FTT project comes in: The researchers involved are expanding an approach to language education to primary school that has already been proven to be effective in the German Kindergarten. In doing so, teachers and educators in all-day schools use a variety of opportunities throughout the day to engage in conversations with the children, especially about emotions (emotion talk).

The approach is based on findings that conversations about emotions can be particularly conducive to academic language skills because they stimulate a change of perspective and the ability to express one's own perspectives. Talking about emotions usually involves the use of complex sentence structures that are typical of academic language. Researchers at Leuphana University and the Universities of Braunschweig and Kassel are therefore developing an advanced training course for classroom and everyday language support that combines language support strategies and dialogic talk about emotions. They are tracking the progress of second graders' language skills and emotion knowledge in a control group design. The results of the research project will enable teachers and educators to promote language and emotional competencies of primary school children in an age-appropriate and targeted manner in the classroom and in everyday life.

Funding: Federal Ministry of Education and Research in cooperation with colleagues from Braunschweig and Kassel (2022-2025)

Breathing Break

Against the background that stress and anxiety are widespread in the higher grades of German primary schools and limit both the performance and the mental health of the pupils, it is important to promote the potentials of these children wherever possible. Children's growing self-regulation skills can be useful in this. Therefore, the aim is to strengthen the self-regulation of 3rd and 4th grade students through the daily implementation of a lesson-integrated short intervention on breath-based mindfulness, i.e., the "breathing break". In a wait-list control group design, the effects of this mindfulness intervention in areas of cognition and emotion known from international meta-analyses will be tested over three points of measurement.

Funding: Ministry of Science and Culture of Lower Saxony (MWK) (2019-2023)

ATEM 3-9: Adaptive Test of Emotion Knowledge

The Adaptive Test of Emotion Knowledge for 3- to 9-year-olds not only asks children to read emotions from other people's faces and to recognize external and internal causes of emotions, but also lets them assess their ability to regulate them. It thus captures emotion knowledge in 7 sub-areas in a differentiated way that is both reliable and valid. Because it is adaptively designed, each child is presented with items appropriate to his or her ability level. No child is overchallenged or underchallenged. Because the ATEM is embedded in an attractive story, children enjoy answering the 35 items of the ATEM, especially in the digital version. The ATEM 3-9 was normed in 2019-2020 with N = 882 children. A paper and pencil version and a computer version of the ATEM 3-9 will appear in Springer Publishing's test series in spring 2023. Translations into English and Hebrew are available.

Funding: Springer Verlag

BISS: Feeling Thinking Talking

Because knowledge of German is not only of enormous importance for success in school, the "Feeling Thinking Talking" (FTT) training for early childhood teachers and educators was developed in this intervention study for the professionalization of language education integrated into everyday life. FTT aims at the everyday integrated promotion of language and uses conversations as opportunities to advance the scientific thinking (speaking about the factual world) and the emotional knowledge (speaking about the inner world) of young children. The FTT training was successfully implemented and evaluated in 13 German Kindergartens. According to a (qualitative) video analysis, the behavior of many trained professionals in teacher-child interactions changed in the desired direction of an educational orientation, which was reflected in longer dialogues with the children. The children from the groups of trained professionals made above-average progress in the acquisition of grammar, memory for sentences, and scientific thinking. Children of trained professionals from a large city also showed above-average progress in emotion knowledge.

Funding: BMFSJ development project within the framework of the programme Education in Speech and Writing (BISS) in cooperation with colleagues from Braunschweig and Hildesheim (2016-2018).

Book: Fühlen Denken Sprechen: Alltagsintegrierte Sprachbildung in Kindertagesstätten. Münster: Waxmann. Available under: