Schools are currently undergoing profound structural change and face growing challenges against a backdrop of increasing societal and individual heterogeneity. Research-based teacher education has so far shed little light on this heterogeneity and its effects. There are no mature and scientifically based concepts that address the interrelationship between individual professionalism, societal developments and the handling of heterogeneity, enable theory-based support of teaching practice based on this or enable students to develop their individual qualification profile. These are the topics on which the researchers of Leuphana's profile topic work on.

Key Topics

Empirical Educational Research

A: Competence Research

Although heterogeneity is not a new topic, the results of international comparative studies in particular indicate that dealing with heterogeneity in Germany is not being managed satisfactorily. On the one hand, learners differ in many conditions relevant for learning, such as abilities, prior knowledge, learning styles, motivational orientations, interests, social and cultural characteristics. Taking this heterogeneity into account, the demand to offer everyone the best possible learning opportunities depending on individual prerequisites, places high demands on the pedagogical professionalism of teachers. On the other hand, the learning subjects themselves are also heterogeneously modeled, especially if one goes beyond the boundaries of individual subject didactics.

In addition to the basic subject-specific scientific, subject-specific didactic and pedagogical-psychological contents, teachers need

  • an interdisciplinary understanding of learning subjects that combines and contrasts different points of view (e.g.: What does teaching German as a second language mean for mathematical learning?),
  • wide-ranging knowledge of the effective interrelationships of these heterogeneity conditions in concrete teaching situations,
  • diagnostic skills related to students' competence development in specific domains and subjects, and
  • Knowledge about possibilities and techniques for support, individualization and differentiation in the classroom and their effects.

B: Teaching Research

A prerequisite for innovative and effective teacher education is grounding in research. In the context of teaching research, teacher education at Leuphana takes up the topic of heterogeneity and specializes in subject-didactic and educational science-oriented projects in which measures, concepts and methods for dealing with heterogeneity are developed and tested for their effectiveness. In doing so, it not only exhibits a general inter- and transdisciplinary orientation, but also differs from other initiatives in its special emphasis on the subject didactic perspective.

In addition to studies on the effectiveness of prevailing teaching approaches, there are teaching-learning experiments and intervention studies to test theory-based new teaching approaches. Studies and projects within this research field are subject-specific and at the same time seek to incorporate interdisciplinary elements. They can direct their focus on:

  • the subject-didactic teaching concepts with their heterogeneity of learning subjects,
  • the development, implementation and evaluation of materials that facilitate self-directed, problem-oriented and differentiated learning,
  • the development and expansion of diagnostic competencies of teachers,
  • the development and expansion of adaptive competencies of teachers through further development of individualizing and differentiating methods in the classroom,
  • the development, implementation and evaluation of support measures and training for special learning difficulties, including the development of an integrative support culture at schools,
  • school organizational forms such as integrative classes, year-spanning classes, all-day schools, community schools and their effectiveness with regard to the promotion of individual learning developments.

Social Pedagogy in Diverse Societies

As one of a few locations in Germany, Leuphana is currently establishing a research focus on social pedagogy with a polyvalent orientation. Basic and application-oriented research is being conducted with a view to both occupational field-specific and training-specific topics. The professorships assigned to the research focus conduct research from an interdisciplinary social science perspective on numerous internationally relevant topics in social pedagogy, such as child welfare/child protection; diversity (gender, generational, ethnic); (forced) migration; social work education; trust and client-provider relationships; social inequality. The anchoring in essential reference disciplines of social pedagogy (educational science, psychology and sociology) and interdisciplinary joint research projects play a decisive role. The research topics of the focus are all grouped around the overarching theme of "Social Pedagogy in Diverse Societies".

Research Projects

An overview of the research projects conducted at the School of Education can be found in our research database.


School of Education



  • Prof. Dr. Michael Besser

Dean of Research

  • Prof. Dr. Marcus Pietsch